IN RESPONSE TO Chris Rice's column "What I Learned When I Opened My Mouth About Gay Rights" ("Grace Matters," May-June 2000), I would like to say what I learned from some other Christians when I opened my mouth about Jesus and joined a church.
I learned that my baptism often mattered less than my lesbianism. I learned that my monogamous, 12-year relationship with my partner was, to some, a lifestyle, though it would have been a life if it were shared with a man. I learned that individuals who never thought they needed to explain their heterosexuality felt surprisingly comfortable telling me that I needed to give an account and justification for my lesbianism. I learned that the same folks who saw no reason to come away from the Bible believing that slavery was a good thing after all or that women should be silent in church, did sometimes come away from scripture profoundly troubled by my place in the church. I learned that some who were saddened by past uses of the Bible to silence and subordinate other groups in the name of faith were sometimes doing the same thing to me and my lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender sisters and brothers. I learned that some church members who approvingly quoted many of Dr. King's works on the civil rights movement seemed not to have read his statement that says it is arrogant for a majority to tell a minority to be patient in pursuit of God-given rights.
I also learned that no evasion, no equivocation, no rejection, no excuse, no discomfort within the church can separate me from the love of God. And I think I've learned that the church is always a gift - although sometimes a gift that is hard not to give back.