We need affirming allies to share their stories of how they came to that space, right? That’s what I’ve said over and over and last week I shared my journey. Then what? Do I hope that more will follow after I place my words at their feet, or maybe I build a space for those stories. Maybe I encourage their blooming by planting them here.
I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Beth Richardson. Beth writes to encourage and guide parents of transgender children. I’ve known Beth for over a year and she’s one of those internet friends that is a real friend. I don’t doubt her ability to show up for me, to support me, and encourage me, and I try to do the same for her. I asked Beth to share with us how she came to be the affirming Christian ally that she is. Her words are below, filled with heart and honesty.
“When my oldest child, Ember, came out as gay during high school, it wasn’t a surprise to me. I had already spent years being a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community. At that time, I thought this made me an ally. When my son Leo came out as transgender in 2016, I learned the word ally is a verb. Being an ally isn’t saying you support the LGBTQ+ community. It’s actively doing so.
Being an affirming ally wasn’t something I had to choose to do. My faith is a deeply ingrained part of who I am, and I didn’t turn away from God because my children were in the LGBTQ+ community. What I did do was leave my non-affirming faith community.
Your faith and your church home are not intrinsically tied together. You can take your faith anywhere. The process of leaving that church home, however, can be excruciating, and it can take time. It took me roughly a decade. During that time, God showed me that who I was as a believer was not tied to a building or a denomination. And even though I knew that, it was still hard to leave because in my heart, that identity felt like such a deeply ingrained part of who I was.
For a decade, I talked about why I was struggling with belonging to my faith community. And during that time, it was difficult for people to have those conversations with me. Every time I engaged in these conversations, it reaffirmed that my church community was not the right place for me any longer. A guest clergy at my church recently said, “We have the job of bearing hard truths, and it’s difficult because no one wants to hear it.” Being an affirming ally means you don’t back away from those painful conversations because if there is ever going to be change in non-affirming churches, it starts with people asking hard questions.
For me, being an affirming ally to the LGBTQ+ community meant that I had to walk away and find a church community that would welcome everyone.”
Many thanks to Beth for putting words to what I think many Christian allies feel – the tension between leaving a community to better support another. It’s both hard and delicate work and I’m so grateful to have allies graciously paving the way.
She’s got more resources for you below and be sure to connect with her on Instagram!
When It’s Time to Find a New Faith Community
Open and Affirming Churches and How to Find One
Starting Over at a New Church
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