REVIVAL IMPLIES DEATH
Spring and fall are arguably the seasons when I feel the most in tune with my creative and spiritual energy, and this spring, I've been thinking quite a bit about the cycle of seasons and all the metaphorical wisdom it holds.
Around March and April is when spring typically starts to roll around in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring always brings to mind several different interrelated ideas.
Renewal. Revival. Rebirth. Regrowth. Resurrection.
And if you notice, all those words have that prefix re- attached to the front (sorry, everyone, this is where my inner linguist comes out), which tells you that it's a return to something, a going back to a previous state. But the underlying connotation there is that there was a departure from that previous state first, and in all those words, the implication is that there was some form of destruction or deterioration or death. And as with the seasons, I think this same cycle tends to play out in the lives of queer people as we come into our own. I think many of us tend to wade through a season of sacrifice and loss prior to finding renewal and regrowth.
MANY OF US QUEER PEOPLE TEND TO WADE THROUGH A SEASON OF SACRIFICE AND LOSS PRIOR TO FINDING RENEWAL AND REGROWTH
Sacrifice and loss can come in a variety of different forms, but I think the one of the most common ways queer people experience it is relationally. Queer people can be pushed out of their former homes and families after coming out, and even if the reactions aren't quite that extreme, often the alternative is to remain in churches, schools, or circles that might not be hostile, but that aren't life giving either. Perhaps some might disagree, but I would argue that stagnance is just as detrimental to your mental and emotional health as outright aggression. The bottom line is that fully stepping into your queerness is costly.
Over the course of the last 6 years of this queer journey, I've lost my own fair share of friends and places to call home, and though that's been liberating in its own sort of way, I would be lying if I said it doesn't create a deep ache at the core of being when I really stop to think about it.
FULLY STEPPING INTO YOUR QUEERNESS IS COSTLY
Having grown up in a lot of different evangelical and Southern Baptist churches, I didn't have much exposure to the queer world. Queerness was something that I knew about factually, and I had only come to terms with my own queerness internally late into high school. By my first year of college when I really started to process what it meant to be queer and the impact it would have on the rest of my life, I could count on one hand the number of people I had come to as gay, and I only talk to one of them on a regular basis now. (I like to chalk that one up to the fact that she and I have known each other since I was only nine years old.)
But of those people, one of them still symbolizes the steep price of fully stepping into my own queerness.
We met the summer before my first year of college as we were both figuring things out and asking the same sorts of questions about what it meant to be queer. As we traversed through college, staying in touch primarily because we went to the same school, it gradually became clear that we weren't going to end up landing on the same side of the spectrum of belief on queerness as it pertained to faith and life. And perhaps the most dramatic part was that we flipped which side of the spectrum we found ourselves on at least once or twice over this 5-6 year period where we were trying to figure out what life would look like.
Fast forward and we aren't in communication at all, and he recently unfollowed me on pretty much every form of social media.
Since we don't talk anymore, I can only speculate as to why he chose to do that, but I do tend to be pretty outspoken about queer issues these days, and I also vividly remember one interchange during our very last conversation in which he told me that it was just difficult to remain in any kind of relationship with me because of how drastically different our viewpoints on our own queerness were. He told me that we each had very different people with very different beliefs on queerness speaking into our lives, and though he didn't say it outright, the underlying message there was that those differences were irreconcilable. At the end of that conversation, we said goodbye to each other. And I cried like a baby when the line clicked off.
THOUGH HE DIDN'T SAY IT OUTRIGHT, THE UNDERLYING MESSAGE WAS THAT THOSE DIFFERENCES [ON QUEERNESS] WERE IRRECONCILABLE
These days, that loss still lies as a terrible ache deep in my soul, even as I hold no hard feelings towards him. I don't blame him. Of all people, I know the difficulty in figuring out what queerness means for the rest of your life, so whether he's still in the midst of his own journey or whether that's where he's come to rest, I do understand it at the core of my being, or at least I want to.
No, the pain flares up because it just seems unfair. I mean, maybe he's wrong, but also maybe I'm wrong. And really that's not even the point. Why does one of us have to be right and one of us have to be wrong? Is that what it comes down to now? Who's right and who's wrong? I hate that. I hate it.
I call myself affirming when it comes to perspectives on queerness, but what do I really know? Can I REALLY be sure of that?
All I really know is that fully stepping into your queerness is costly. I lost one of my best friends and one of the people I loved most in the earthly realm because we didn't see eye to eye on what queerness meant for us. I believe to my core that the gay is good and that queerness is beautiful, and at the same time I feel the pain of what it means to proclaim that, the pain of the sacrifices we make, the losses we endure.
And so I remind myself that through some of the dark places we may tread, there's a voice that whispers, "courage, dear heart," and despite all the losses and all the pain, I choose to believe that's the voice of the Spirit leading me onward on this path.
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