One of the things Neighborhood can be proud of is being a Welcoming Congregation. By this we affirm that LGBTQ persons are welcome here, and that we are dedicated to equality regardless of affectional or sexual orientation. It is heartwarming to see the tide turning in our nation, and with more states affirming the right of marriage equality, one of the remaining prejudices in our country is diminishing. There is still a long ways to go, but the trend is a good one.
This got a boost this week with the eloquent and moving piece in Sports Illustrated by Jason Collins, the NBA player, coming out as gay. In the New York Times, Frank Bruni has a good editorial about Collins’ coming out that is worth reading, but Collins’ article is a must read. It is intelligent and moving, honest and mature. He says he hopes that he is starting a conversation with his coming out, the first male athlete in a major sport in the US to do so. He went to Harvard-Westlake.
Our faith history, like our nation’s history, has been one of expanding rights, of breaking down the barriers of exclusion, of confronting fears. A hundred years ago, women could not vote; fifty years ago, racist laws were common; homophobia is still common. Just witness the many anti marriage equality statutes around the country, the bullying of LGBTQ teens and youth, or the awful comments by several sports figures about gay athletes.
Collins is seven feet tall, a fact more remarkable than that he is gay or that he is black. And all three – tall, black, gay – are just givens for him, no one element defines him; they are elements among many, just like for everyone. I am a six foot (well, a bit less) sixty six year old liberal minister. I am white. I am straight. But I am much more than those characteristics, just as Collins is. Hopefully we are coming to a time when we are all seen for who we are, not just for one aspect of our self. Maybe some of the deep homophobia will lessen now. That would be a good thing. Maybe some of the overly macho sense of professional sports will decrease; that would be a good thing too.
Maybe, like Neighborhood Church, we can be a welcoming society. That would be a great thing.