Dear Queer or Questioning Soul,
When GFM asked me if I could write a column about Pride Month, I struggled for weeks to figure out the direction I would take this piece.
I could have written an eloquent explanation of the history of the Stonewall Uprising. I could have used every theological tool I had to graciously convince straight church people to finally and truly support us with authentic and effective allyship.
But then I thought of you.
I thought of you sitting on your couches. I thought of you scrolling through TikTok at 2 a.m.
I thought of you sitting on subways and barstools, in church pews and armchairs in florescent-lit therapy waiting rooms. I thought of you hanging in the balance between the blue bubble text exchange watching the ominous dot.dot.dot.
Will they be OK if they know who I really am? What if I lose everything? Will it get easier?
And as I thought of you, I knew I had no other option than to write to you.
After nervously leaping out of the closet in March (talk about spring cleaning!), I feel a much fuller empathy for our community and the costly vulnerability we share.
So, in honor of Pride, I want you to know a few things. Lean in.
- You are magical. You are spectacular.
Your queerness is a radiant, divine blessing. It is not a burden, sin or mistake. You are not too much. Your queerness is a perfect component of your spiritual story. God delights in every corner of you. Period.
- There is no one right way to discern your sexuality/gender identity or talk to the world about it.
My particular journey has involved a lot of crying and napping. I do feel strongly about naps, Cheez-Its, fleece blankets and Kleenex on hand. But other than those very serious convictions, I believe you and God will walk this together in a way that is right for you.
No matter how your queerness surfaces, it is holy and beautiful. Your rainbow colors might be symmetrically separated and identified with ease. Blue. Purple. Bisexual. Non-binary. Trans.
Labels may serve you and ground you. Or, like a stunning sunset, your colors may blend and shift with graceful mystery. Either way, your unfolding rainbow is illuminating something gorgeous.
- You are the perfect size. The box was always too small.
You do not have to defend your queerness or make it fit into a box that is acceptable to others.
When I was coming to terms with my identity, I remember telling the leader of a pastor support cohort in a flood of tears, “I don’t want to be in a box! I’m too big for a box!”
She looked back at me and said, “Jenna, you are the perfect size. The box was always too small.”
- Your felt sense of safety matters.
Listen to your body and spend time with people and animals who make you feel safe. This is really important. Even stuffed animals can help. Help your inner child feel safe as you process your journey.
- You are such a precious gift to this world.
We need you. We need your fearless fluidity, your endless sparkle, your red-lip smile, your enduring resilience, your dazzling bravery, your unique story. We need every fabulous part of you, and we are blessed by your fullest becoming.
And so, I sit here praying for you.
I pray that you have a dog in your lap the second that you need it.
I pray you have access to a therapist or friend who truly witnesses your fears and tears.
I pray you feel God’s hand grip yours tightly as you bravely enter pulpits, podiums, conference tables, FaceTime calls and dining rooms that feel vulnerable and scary.
I pray that you feel the freedom of being fully affirmed and celebrated. And until all of us can feel that every day, we will keep on marching (and dancing) forward with hopeful persistence.
I know you are terrified. I promise it will be OK. You are never alone, and I am so proud of you. Happy Pride Month.
On the couch with you,
An ordained feminist + queer preacher, certified yoga instructor and community pastor, she is currently serving as a pastoral resident at Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas. Sullivan is co-host of “Revs on the Road” podcast.