I hope that life is easy on you right now or you are able to move through it with the least amount of resistance possible. This post will be talking about the trauma(s) that people who are not heteronormative & gender conforming experience as the result of just being themselves. I hope that it helps those of you who identify as something other than what is considered normal in terms of gender and sexuality find peace within yourselves to fully embrace who you are. This is also for those who want to be true allies to those in the community.
For those of you who may read this & become offended, I ask you to consider putting empathy into play. Literally put yourself into the experiences of your fellow humans. I desire to educate on the trauma experienced by this population of people & help them to heal. If this does not pertain to you & you do not desire to understand or be a true ally then please don't continue reading this post because it's going to piss you off. You can either take that anger, do the work to understand why you need to be angry at someone trying to help others, & then work through it or you can disregard everything I say. It's truly up to you. I will pose questions but they are not meant to offend. They are simply there for introspection should you choose to take on that work. Now let's dive in!
The Trauma Starts Early
People in the community experience a higher rate of traumatic events than those not in the community. This includes:
Ostracization From Family & Community
Intimate Partner Violence
According to The Trevor Project, 1 in 3 youth in the LGBTQIA community experience violence due to their identity. If you are also a BIPOC, you will find that you are a multiple minority who has even less spaces to be authentic AND supported in ways that are meaningful for you. It is also the case that your spaces & initiatives often get coopted by the majority for their agenda & we get left in the margins yet again.
Imagine, if you can, from the moment you recognize that you like the same sex or are not your presenting gender there is fear & you know you have to hide it. You do this because you know that it is labeled as sinful, unnatural, perverted, & there is even this vein of thinking that it is a mental health issue & pedophilia. There are still countries where it is illegal to be who you are. You know that you didn't choose this, it's just there & there is not a whole lot you can do about it. You walk through life not truly being yourself because you know there is no acceptance for you, you don't want to be picked on, you don't want to go to hell, murdered, or you don't want your family to disown you. So you walk around with this big "secret" that you don't feel ok sharing with anyone. If you are a male child this can be even worse due to toxic masculinity. This sets a child up for a life filled with identity issues, self hatred, & isolation. A child's still developing brain will struggle with this & it will follow them into every relationship they have, even after (& if) they choose to come out.
This is not helped by the truth that people mistake religious beliefs for scientific fact & truth about LGBTQIA people. LGBTQIA people have existed for as long as heteronormative & cisgender people have but because of the interpretation of sacred texts instead of translation, people have decided that it is ok to murder, ostracize, abuse, mistreat, & criminalize them. Add on top of this Christian hegemony (dominance) across the globe & the prevalence of clergy in the church saying that they should be put in front of a firing squad & projecting their hate filled insecurities onto them & it's a toxic soup that a lot of people in the community are drenched in daily. These hate filled rants cause members of these congregations to feel justified in doing & saying hateful things because they truly believe that their pastor is a servant of God & therefore God must approve of it. I will go into how toxic religious communities silence those who question this in another post.
Interpretation vs Translation
I spoke about interpretation versus translation so I would like to elaborate on that to bring clarity. Interpretation is defined as the action of explaining the meaning of something. This can be influenced by confirmation bias, one's experiences, & myriad other things. Confirmation bias means we look for things to confirm our beliefs as a default rather than look for the unbiased truth. It's a human trait that we must be aware of & work against in order to be truly unbiased when dealing with things that we don't understand & therefore don't agree with. Translate means to be expressed or be capable of being expressed in another language. You should not change the meaning of words when translating. There are some words from the sacred texts that were added, interpreted incorrectly, and/or do not represent the original words. They represent an agenda that is beyond the scope of this post.
There are also words that have no English equivalent. This causes the truth of what the very human authors of these texts meant to be lost. Not to mention the Bible has been used for centuries to justify some the most horrific crimes known to man. Add to that this clergy who have no accountability in judging the "divine revelations" they get that are infused with their own internal bias & shadow characteristics, & you have people who believe that a person's interpretation & opinion are fact. This just is not true or sound reasoning.
I pose a question...If the Bible is the unchanging & infallible word of God then why are there so many versions? Why are there so many denominations? Could it be because people are changing the meaning of the words to suit their beliefs & biases instead of allowing the truth of the words to change their beliefs to that of kindness, compassion, love, & truth? It also doesn't seem that anyone takes the context in which these things were written into consideration. We are a growing & evolving species just like everything else on this planet. That which does not evolve goes extinct. Only using beliefs as a basis to judge human behavior & unchangeable characteristics is dangerous because beliefs change with experience, perception, & knowledge. We once believed that man couldn't fly but here we are, flying everywhere. These are questions of deep introspection. It will require courage to look at & question your beliefs but I believe it necessary to truly be an ally & even address the internalized hate as a member of the community. If you choose to look at what you believe or don't believe I encourage you to reach out for support. I also encourage you to seek those who want to see you grow & don't use fear to keep you from looking at the truth. God is not going to send you to hell for trying to love others the best you can, always remember that.
Being Forced to Live a Lie
What does it do to a person to have to live a lie? It blunts their true expression. It leads to struggles with mental health. It leads to addiction. It leads to suicide. It leads to unsafe sexual practices & behaviors that create further chaos. It leads to doubting themselves so much that they allow others to dictate what happiness means to them. It leads to a miserable existence. I 100% believe that what you push into the shadows will manifest in chaotic ways in your life. So many find themselves having to live a lie as a necessity for safety. It's not just physical safety either. People are left with no safe space due to this & it is incredibly isolating & lonely.
It is a testament to just how much the harmful interpretations of Christianity (not only as it pertains to sex & gender but also misogyny, classism, racism, & elitism) truly are to see so many people marginalized based on lies. I have heard so many people say I'm not like that or my church is not like that but I have yet to hear pastors, members, & clergy stand up & LOUDLY denounce the hate that these people perpetuate in the name of their religion. Let's start a trend of denouncing the hateful misinterpretations that are being spewed. This needs to come from the pulpit if that is what you truly believe. Stand up for your fellow humans in this world. They don't deserve to be treated poorly.
Now I would like to acknowledge the truth that not every church or Christian is this way. There are those who love all people, accept them, know that God loves all people, & show unconditional love through action. Keep doing what you are doing AND call out the hatred & bigotry when you see it.
What Can I Do?
For those who are a part of the community who are not able to fully be who you are, I know it is very difficult for you. I see you, you matter, & I am available to help in any way that I can. As you seek to come out & live your truth please be safe. The ideal world is one where we are all accepted & protected but I am also a realist. We are a long way away from the ideal state. However, I will say to you that there are people out there who are safe for you. Listen to your gut & watch behavior when dealing with people. Behavior does not lie, people do. It is always better to air on the side of caution. Stay safe my friends.
For those proudly out & living your truth, continue to do so. Those who can't need to see you, they need to know you exist. Be that beacon for them & a safe space for them. Always remember to consider your safety as well. While there are spaces where you can be out & proud, I always want you to be as safe as possible.
For those who wish to show that you are an ally & a safe space, step one is to educate yourselves. Talk to LGBTQIA people to better understand them from THEIR experiences & perspective. You will find that we are simply human trying to live in a world that is not always kind to us. We could use true allies.
To wrap up, there is a lot to be done on this frontier. You do not have to make sweeping changes all in one day. This is a very steep learning curve of just allowing people to exist as they are. This does not include looking the other way when destructive behavior is tearing a friend down. The connection that Christianity has solidified between immorality, gender nonconformity, & sexuality is pervasive. We have to dismantle it. If you can be there for your fellow humans as they allow it (because let's face it, there are so many unwilling to hear the truth) you will be doing the work of Christ.
To those of you in the community, look at people's behavior not their words. If they are trying please show them grace. We are truly walking in a world of chaos but there are so many beautiful experiences to be had & people to meet along the journey who are actively working to make the world a better place for you. Seek them, they are out there.