An unremarkable life of love
So I’ve been mulling over something about this here queer life for quite some time, as I’m wont to do, and now I feel like sharing my stewing thus far to see what y’all think.
All day long, all over the world lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all manner of non binary people are confronted with verbal, physical, spiritual and psychological abuse – sometimes leading to death.
Years ago, when I came out, my own mother treated me horribly. Fueled by a faith that told her I was choosing to live as an abomination and was destined for an eternity of suffering, cast into hell by a fierce God, she chose to be verbally abusive in truly heartbreaking ways. After years of alienation (and a heaping helping of therapy for me) we reconciled a few years before her passing. Unfortunately, the majority of my family still holds onto their legalistic (and toxic) theology and I have lost all but a handful of loving, faithfully evolved cousins and a fiercely loyal sister.
If not for the work done, by thousands of people before me, and also by me, to rediscover a fully affirming faith in a God who loves how She created me to love, I would not have the amazing life I have slowly learned how to live into. Thank you theologians, thank you sociologists, thank you psychologists and activists who have and are still working so hard bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice for all of creation.
That said, I am sensing a shift within me that seems to hold in tenuous tension the dichotomy caring deeply whether or not someone is loathing or affirming and frankly my dear, not giving a damn.
Let me see if I can make this make sense.
Imagine if you will a late night browsing of the Twittersphere and mindless strolling through Facebookistan and encountering tweet after tweet and meme after meme pompously posted by otherwise unimportant fellas who feel called to proclaim their personal disapproval of “the homosexual lifestyle” (unrealistic I know). Can you see my half-hearted eye-roll about the willfully ignorant phrase? If you imagine that I am hurt or angry or compelled to respond with some incisive witticism, some carefully chosen scriptural remedy or even a condescending “bless your heart” then you’ve been reading what I’ve been writing all these years. What may come as a surprise, hopefully a pleasant one, is that I honestly and with sincere searching of my soul, is that I SO don’t care what folks like that think. What I feel most profoundly is nothing that in any way impacts how I am living my life.
I wake in the morning to turn on the coffee machine and make two perfect cups of coffee, each a bit different, one for me and one for my wife. I spend a little while waking up and either reading or talking or just staring in a haze as the clock moves rapidly toward my 7 a.m. departure by bus or bike, depending on the Dutch rain situation. I spend my work-day serving a beautiful kaleidoscope of colleagues, students and families who trust me to know and do my job well. Good Lord willing, most days I just make the mark or only fall short in ways that offer me an opportunity to learn and grow. I ride my bike or bus home and walk the dogs (okay, the wife usually walks the dogs) and prepare dinner (okay, the wife is a way better cook) and work on plans for the fellowship of faithful folks I have the honor to serve. I love my wife, I love my daughter, I love my work and I love my life. Little Johnny PontificatingPants bloviating on about whether or not he approves of my “lifestyle” really doesn’t factor into whether or not it is my turn to take out the recycling (it is SO my turn) or if we are going to throw some risotto in the pots or order pizza to be delivered by dare-devil scooter riders.
Now please understand, it is really important to pay attention to what these knuckleheads are saying and doing because with enough of these goobers put together, especially numbskulls with a large platform, wide influence and deep pockets and, well as we all know, dangerous, deadly things happen on both the intimate and international scale. Ever vigilant we must be to not allow these voices to move gentle hearts and minds in the wrong direction, thus leaving millions of our LGBT kinfolk ever on the margins and certainly in harm’s way.
But what if we keep telling them that their opinion simply does not matter because no one gets to have an opinion about how another human lives into their humanity? What if we find cool and clever ways to affirm the irrelevancy of their ignorance and bigotry? What if we just live our lives matter of factly in such a way that criticism wilts in the brilliant light of our well-lived lives?
But, never content to just stir the pot in one direction, another idea of increasing interest to me is my quizzical internal response when someone goes all happy slappy to tell me how they are cool with “it.” This one is a little hard for me to make sense of, so I do genuinely appreciate any insight you have to offer.
I have worked for over a decade, and people have worked far longer and harder than I, to create open and affirming spaces for LGBT people in the church, workplace, healthcare, legal system and ultimately individual hearts. There is A LOT of work to still be done and we seem to be in a painful transition where on one side beautiful allies are showing up at Pride parades an offering much needed hugs, smiles and even faithful apologies for the damage that has been done in the name of God. This is good and necessary work that is making a critical difference in the lives of millions of people. I am the grateful recipient of al life that might have otherwise gone unlived and unloved if not for the affirmations of family, friends and powerful people in all sorts of places.
Just the same, the end game here, and maybe I am just speaking for myself, is to not need all that affirmation. What I most want is to just be me. Just be Kimberly, just be a boring, middle aged, slightly woo-woo (yes, slightly, I see you rolling your eyes) woman who needs to exercise more, eat more salads, drink more water and remember to take her meds.
A few months after we moved to The Netherlands, Betsy stopped by the pharmacy (apotheek in Dutch!) to pick up my meds on her way home from work. When her number was called she walked up to the pharmacy clerk and said “I need to pick up my wife’s medication.” And before she could even brace herself for some sort reaction, the attendant glanced up and said “what’s her date of birth?”
No awkward pause, no raised eyebrow, no OTT smile and unnecessary chatter about how great it is we can be married, just an end of the work day, tired, somewhat bored, totally professional “date of birth?”
And two years later we are still talking about how refreshing it was to be so utterly banal, just as unremarkable as any other customer coming in to pick up their spouse’s medication.
This is what I most deeply desire for myself and everyone who craves it – utterly unremarkable lives lived out in peace in just the way we are created to live. No need for confronting arrogant twitter tirades, no need to weep for joy at the sight of straight mama’s hugging gay kids, no need to rescue abused people from “ex-gay therapy,” no need to correct strangers when they misgender my spouse (all the time), no need to blink and smile as an acquaintance who just figures out that I’m married to a woman tells me that’s she’s totally okay with the gays. While her heart, and the hearts of scads of allies just finding their way, may be in the right place, how much more do I love it when, without skipping a beat, neither consternation nor celebration is the response to a life lived in love?