A Response to the 2019 United Methodist Church (UMC) General Conference
by Michelle Capell
March 2, 2019
To the UMC:
I grew up in a church that would not and will not ever accept the whole of who I am as a queer person who absolutely believes in the essential wholeness that comes from doing life and love through a community drawn together by something bigger (faith, morality, decency – whatever) and not necessarily worried about needing to define that under a particular godhead.
Finding my way through the dichotomy of taught and felt broke me in ways that made me question everything and brought deep grief and lots of callouses. It also, eventually, set me free and opened places within myself that may have never been opened otherwise. I have always been grateful for being born queer and having this catalyst towards love.
Churches have incredible power. To be an LGBTQIA person (and especially youth) unwillingly embedded in the throes of these dangerous politics can be life threatening and life taking. I used to make excuses, try to rationalize between lack of understanding and the deep good I knew lived in the people who looked at me with such sadness and who would never celebrate life with me in the same way they would other, straight members of my birth family. It tortured me for a long time – not because I believed myself less but because I was making room to allow them to believe me less.
I have pretty strong opinions about all this, and they aren’t gentle and tame and forgiving. It honestly infuriates me. It’s absolutely unnecessary and drenched in every ism that clouds the love waters. I have little patience for it as I do for so many other attempts to quiet the voices that bring all the colors and stripes and beauty to the surface.
The truth is that buried in these debates are LGBTQIA people who hear again and again how unworthy they are and to whom leaving means great loss and great grief because they have to choose a very hard and often lonely road. And at the same time, it is often the only way to be truly free. And all of this could be shifted by a church body that leans into love and inclusivity and calls its people to do the same. If you have children, please don’t make them live in this tension. It stunts and distracts and darkens and paralyzes the most beautiful beings. Break them free from this bullshit.
Used with permission.