so when i was first deciding to come out as a gay [yes. said. just like that. lol], i really thought that the most important thing to do was to reconcile my spiritual life with my sexual desires and orientation. i thought that once that work was done that the work of justice would be complete, that i’d have a clear way to think about the world and how to interrogate it. and that because i thought so much of what i was experiencing in terms of cognitive, emotional and spiritual dissonance was because of the conflictual and complex and contradictory messages and thoughts and ideas and behaviors i was experiencing and noticing among others. i thought once i finally reconciled my spiritual practice with my sexual orientation, then i could be a regular preacher. i figured that what was needed was a simplistic widening of the theological circle, of theological thought, to include me …
and that’s all true. i needed to be included. and i am quite glad i figured out – with a community of folks that held me up and accountable, that showed me otherwise ways to live – i’m glad i was allowed space to figure out how to do that reconciling work.
what was so unsettling was that that reconciliation was so very me-based, it was so very individualistic. and, eventually, such a reconciliation was unsatisfying. it was when i began to think about empire, when i began to really think about how economy and politics affect the everyday living of folks, that i began to think more broadly and to put much less emphasis on my personal, private practice of personal, private spirituality – and importantly, the personal, private practice of personal, private sexuality. it was only when i began – again, with help of community that would hold me accountable – to connect concerns about one’s erotic life to the violent policing that is empire, when i began to think about how empire requires of us to submit to its will, how it requires of us to accept inequity as normative and immovable, it is when i began to think about all those things that the stakes became a lot more clear. the stakes are not fundamentally about my or your personal, private practices of personal, private erotics or other behaviors. the stakes are about the dismantling, the uprooting and discarding of systems that have us bound, systems that perpetuate violence, famine, lack … systems that have the many fight for squandered resources. and insofar as our differences – in terms of erotics, spiritual practice, race or class – marks us, our differences are sent into the world to make us know with stunning clarity that otherwise is possible. (sent: “[A] whole bunch of things sent me to say it…And that’s what I mean – to be sent, to be transported out of yourself, it’s an ecstatic experience, it’s not an experience of interiority, it’s an experience of exteriority, it’s an exteriorization. And so we’re sent. We’re sent to one another. We are sent by one another to one another.) we are sent into the world with the various, infinite differences we carry in order to critique the normative function and form of this inequitable world, to imagine that there is otherwise possibility.
a good friend said to me that we often “don’t realize the deep level of interrogation required” and i think that’s true. so much of the way we think our relation to the world has to be interrogated to really be committed to dismantling systems of oppression. i don’t want a religious community to accept my gay-as-hell-ness while also being a religious community complicit with warfare, with violence against black, brown and indigenous peoples, terrible immigration practices, water shutoffs, homelessness, joblessness, neoliberal logics of school and healthcare privatization, etc.
the stakes are high. we are contending against nothing but systemic world inequity, produced by the very thing that gives or withholds from us our “rights.” and this is not easy. and this is not fun. but it is urgent and necessary.
there is much required of you. and me. to put your hand to the plow of justice means to commit to connecting the dots, to being unflinching – even when, especially if, we are fatigued and tired – to keep pressing. but we press together with community, we share the load, we bear the burden together. there’s so much more to do. but it’s not up to me or you or anyone else to do it alone … but it is up to us that are committed to justice to work together, even through disagreement and argument about how such work gets done, to commit to being with each other in community, to struggling together. because empire would have us be separated…and fighting each other so that it can do its perpetual violence in its many guises.