A couple weeks ago Brian and I did three speaking gigs at various places in Minnesota. We spoke at a church, a college, and held a casual Pub Theology event. It was so fun to be out and about, together, meeting people and spreading the Good News of Queer Theology and Queerness.
Our prepared remarks at all three places were on different topics and encompassed theology, reclamation of words, and more.
What surprised me this time around was how a similar theme came up in the post-talk discussions each night.
There’s a lot in the world that’s pretty terrible right now. There’s a lot of things that are wrong. And scary. And dangerous. And yet the theme that kept coming up was joy.
The questions were all different but they spoke to this same longing: How do you keep yourself going without being defined by your trauma? was followed by “How do you tap into the history of defiance of the movement?” Then after stories of struggles someone asked “What has being queer given you?” And the floodgates opened for people to share their hearts about their love for their journey and all that it has brought them.
I think this is enlightening for two reasons:
1: There is a defiant joy in queer/trans lives and stories and communities. We hold to it and claim it and revel in it. Even when times are hard. Even when the world is dangerous. This defiant joy is our strength and power. It’s our hope. It’s our resilience. And it’s beautiful.
2: So often the LGBT Christian movement (let’s face it, really, the gay Christian movement) is miserable and mopey. It’s that way because instead of claiming their queerness they have framed their identities in reaction to the conservative church. All of their theology and Bible work takes the conservative way of reading the Bible as they only way. It takes the conservative church’s rules as they only acceptable rules. And it sets itself up to be miserable because it expects that only a sober and serious and mopey gay will get any respect.
Which is why the work that Brian and I do is so powerful; it starts from a completely different place. It says that there are other ways to read Scripture. That we don’t have to play by the conservative churches rules or argue via their talking points. We are not fighting to be let in or for scraps from their table.
Instead we are claiming our space and place and saying God is among us, out here, on the margins. God is in our defiant joy and resilience. God is in our queer readings of Scripture. God is in our rupturing of binaries. God is in our anger and our grief but God is also in our dancing and our singing. We don’t have to be mopey and sad. We can have pride and walk with our heads held high. We can revel in our identities and in our bodies. We can claim it all as the gifts from God that it is.
And because of that, everywhere we go, people will see our defiant joy and want to be a part of it. People will see relationships built on health and communication instead of fear and shame. People will see us talking about sex and our bodies and marveling at the good thing that God has made instead of us loathing and hating both our bodies and our sexuality (like so many of the gay Christian movements teach us to do).
I delight in this movement we are spreading. I delight in the defiance. In the anger. In the refusal to accept less than what we are worth.
But most of all I delight in the beauty and the joy.