12 steps to becoming an LGBT ally
If you are a seasoned ally or just taking your first steps, I hope you will share your thoughts, struggles and celebrations from your own journey to becoming an ally. If you are a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person I hope you will share your own suggestions for how folks can be allies.
I hope these will help you on your journey.
1. Sit – You may not realize it or you may be in blissful denial, but you likely know someone who is LGBT. LGBT folks are not just characters in gleeful musicals or sit coms about modern families – we are your sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, pastors, teachers, students, doctors, nurses, librarians and law makers – in other words we are your family and your neighbor. Sit down for a while and think about the people in your life, what they add to your life and how you are called to be their friend and ally in a world that (more frequently than you may realize) relegates them to second class citizens, or worse, tells them again and again that they are an abomination, of less sacred worth, deserving of fewer civil rights and maybe even worthy of a death sentence. The rejection almost always starts with poor theology and frequently results in deep self loathing that manifests in depression, self-abuse and higher rates of suicide than other folks. Sit with this knowledge and know you can make a difference, you can even save lives.
2. Pray – Pray for courage to be vulnerable and the humility to be changed. Pray for eyes that can see, ears that can hear, a heart that can discern…
Gracious and loving God,
who was made known to us in the body of a babe,
born into poverty and despised by the state –
Our parent and brother
recognize the stranger as our kin.
listen attentively to our lives.
discern the murmuring of grace
planted by you in our hearts.
hear the deep pain and soaring joy of others.
see our interdependence with others
to be your hands and feet in the world.
3. Invite –
Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart to do a new thing.
Invite new ideas to your table.
Invite a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender friend to lunch, dinner, out for drinks, or for a rousing round of mini-golf and ask them about themselves.
Invite yourself to be fully present.
Invite your neighbor into your heart.
4. Listen –
Listen to the stories of their life.
Listen deeply for places where their story might sound a bit like yours.
Listen for touchstones in their narrative that break your heart.
Listen for places where your stories intersect.
Listen for how their story is interwoven with God’s.
Listen to your heart.
5. Ask –
Ask yourself if you are willing to hear honest answers.
Ask a LGBT person if you can ask them questions that seem weird or uncomfortable – not because you want them to feel weird or uncomfortable or because you are hoping to trip them up but because you need to learn a few things (yes, that means you have to acknowledge a little bit of ignorance and fear but that is actually wise and courageous).
Ask real questions, not veiled, loaded questions that are meant to corner, cajole or convert.
Ask yourself if you learned something new.
6. Hug – God moves in the spaces between two people so create a loving space that welcomes the other intimately into your heart. Opening your arms is a great step toward opening your heart.
7. Read –
Read A LOT about being an LGBT individual in the world.
Read books, blogs that are written by gay folks.
Read books and blogs by allies.
Read authentic voices sharing true stories.
And read your holy texts. Read for all the ways God is calling us into compassion and justice. If you are a Christian and are reading the Bible, please count the number of scriptural references to justice and compassion as compared to the number of times human sexuality (as understood in a particular, historical culture) is mentioned. And Christians who are called to follow in the footsteps of that rabbi who fed the multitudes without asking for a dime, healed the sick (on the sabbath) without asking for insurance and died a criminal’s death – please carefully scan for what Jesus had to say about homosexuality.
Here are just a few resources for your reading list. Please add to this list in the comments below.
Coming Out as a Supporter from the HRC (PDF)
Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America by Mel White
God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage by Gene Robinson
Jesus the Bible and Homosexuality by Jack Rogers
Homosexuality and Christian Faith: Questions of Conscience for the Churches by Walter Wink
Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists Members of the Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists (AWAB) are churches, organizations, and individuals who are willing to go on record as welcoming and affirming all persons without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity, and who have joined together to advocate for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons within Baptist communities of faith.
Brethren/Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests– The mission of BMC is to cultivate an inclusive church and society and to care for the Mennonite and Brethren lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and allied community.
Catholic – DignityUSA works for respect and justice for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in the Catholic Church and the world through education, advocacy and support.
Disciples of Christ – The Gay, Lesbian and Affirming Disciples Alliance is a presence working for the full dignity and integrity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and affirming people within the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Episcopalian – Integrity USA Since 1974, Integrity has been a faithful witness of God’s inclusive love to the Episcopal Church and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. We are working for the full inclusion of all the baptized in all the sacraments.
Lutherans Concerned/North America works for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Lutherans in all aspects of the life of their Church and congregations. They provide a place of comfort and safety. They reach out and teach that Christ’s message, the Gospel, is for everyone equally. They call for the blessing of committed and covenanted same-gender relationships, and for the ordination of those called to minister.
PC(USA) More Light Presbyterians – a network of people seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
United Church of Christ Open & Affirming (ONA) Program – ONA is “shorthand” for Open and Affirming, the designation for congregations, campus ministries, and other bodies in the United Church of Christ which make public statements of welcome into their full life and ministry to persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities.
United Methodist Reconciling Ministries Network mobilizes United Methodists of all sexual orientations and gender identities to transform our Church and world into the full expression of Christ’s inclusive love.
That All May Freely Serve advocates for an inclusive church for all who are disenfranchised: A church that honors diversity and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons as full members. Full membership includes eligibility for ordination to the offices of elder, deacon, and Minister of Word and Sacrament.
8. Watch – For the Bible Tells Me So.
9. Think – A lot.
Think with your intellect AND think with your heart.
Move beyond regurgitating what you have been fed by others.
Think for yourself.
10. Pray some more. Pray persistently. Pray by practicing the presence of God everywhere, in all that you do and in everyone that you meet.
11. Share –
Share with others in your faith community, your work place, your school, on Facebook and in your own home how you are learning to be an ally. This is likely one of the most crucial pieces of the puzzle. Once you have made a choice to be an active ally follow the call to tell others.
12. Act – If you are a writer, write. If you are a speaker, speak. If you are a preacher, preach. If you are a lover, love. If you are an engaged citizen, find out what the issues are, find out how to get involved and for Pete sake, vote.
Here are a few resources to help you get moving, please share more in the comments below.
Create a safe space on your campus, in your workplace, or at your school (from HRC)
Check out some resource (from GLAAD)
Explore a welcoming guide for faith communities (From the Religious Institute)