Division & Solidarity: A letter to straight allies
When a person, organization, or government opposes the full equality of queer people, they create a gulf between themselves and me. If there is division when queers come out or speak up, we do not create it; we simply bring attention to the division which is already there, a division we did not create.
I am no longer a member of the church I grew up in. Though the process of separating myself from my church was painful at the time, it was inevitable. My church had cut me out of its body long before I came out.
I recognize that our straight friends and family have a different experience. Though you love and care about us deeply, the lines of division which anti-queer forces draw are drawn around us, not you. Your separation from friends, family, or institutions is not a forgone conclusion. I say this to you, my straight friends, to let you know that I understand the weight of the situation. As a straight person, you can stay within anti-queer institutions. You have the luxury of agreeing to disagree, or disagreeing in silence, or being the frustrated out-spoken critic. You may even be able to achieve some degree of success by staying where you are. You might influence some people, you might change hearts and minds, you might even affect some policy change. I understand this all.
And yet, you accomplish all of those “victories” in spaces where we are not allowed, where we have been removed or silenced or degraded. You are standing inside of the circle that they drew to keep us out.
I understand that you don’t need to leave because they’ll make you, or because you need to in order to survive. I understand it is not your humanity that is assaulted by their policies. I understand that while they cut me out of the body, you will need to cut yourself out in order to leave. It will be painful, and messy, and scary.
I understand all of these things. I want you to know I understand them because I am asking you to leave anyway.
If you can understand that I am not fully affirmed in anti-queer churches; in families which do not accept LGBT children, siblings, parents, or partners; in the eyes of our government, I am asking you to see that you are standing inside a place I am not allowed. And so I do not want you to stay, or to build bridges, or to try to work from the inside out. I want you to stand beside me. I want you to walk across the gulf these anti-gay forces have created between you and me and I want you to stand with me.
I want you to leave my oppressors behind and stand with me. I want you to refuse to cooperate with injustice. We may not be able to close that gap ourselves but we can actively create on our side of that gap and we can refuse to participate in our own oppression. We do not need to sit at the cliffside and beg to be let back across. We can–and do!–create communities, families, support structures amongst ourselves. We can create art, find love, forge alliances, and stand in solidarity.
And so I am asking you to leave your churches that exclude queer people and join congregations that affirm us. I am asking you to cultivate a chosen family that is full of lesbian, gay, transgender, and queer folks. I am asking that you work with us to build solidarity movements that cut across race, class, nationality, immigration status, physical and mental ability, and any other gulf of division which has been created to keep us apart.
I am asking that you leave the places which divide and join the places which empower. In essence, I am asking you to be the change you wish to see in the world; which, of course, is not a new idea at all.