Hello dear one, maybe we met before or maybe we haven’t yet, but I wanted to write to you to tell you how much you’ve been on my heart these last few days. By now you’ve probably heard directly or overheard that the Yearly Meeting will be divided. That is true, and there are a lot of sad and complicated reasons that led us to this moment. It is ok if that feels scary or feels sad, whatever you’re feeling really or any of the questions you have…they are all valid. I want to assure you that there were better ways that older adult Friends could have treated each other than what you are witnessing. I have faith in you and your generation moving forward to remember this mistake and not repeat it. I don’t want to focus on that too much right now though, because I’m focusing on you.
I remember growing up in a church where all the adults around me, if they would have ever known I was queer, would have seen that as something unnatural, something not to be acted upon, and something changeable. I’m going to be honest with you. It is ok if that feels scary to imagine adults in your church holding those opinions.
I’m still going to be honest with you, and I want to make something very clear. First though, if you are able and would like to, I’d like it if you would place your hand over your heart for a few seconds, or just become aware of your heartbeat.
Inside and inseparable from the heartbeat you just felt, is your soul. There has never been, and never will be, a body and soul exactly like yours. You are unique, and God created you beautifully. Your feelings, identity, and your attractions are gifts given to you by a Spirit who loves you. God created you to be a queer person in this world and you absolutely never need to change that part of yourself, remember, God doesn’t make junk.
You don’t need to take my word for it though, because another amazing thing about you, is that you access to communing directly with God. No matter what is happening, you can always center down to listen for that still small voice. I have faith that you will hear God whisper to you, reassuring and guiding you the same way God has for so many other Quakers in time. That ability to listen and act upon your leadings also means that you are a minister, equal to any other minister of any other age or identity. You were created to be queer, and the most high God of the universe also trusts and baptizes you to be a force for good in our world. No matter what anyone at any pulpit might say, they can never take away that baptism, that communion, and that ordination from you.
Some day, maybe soon or maybe years from now, you might experience a leading or feel the need to leave the church you grew up in. I won’t lie to you, that is a difficult choice in the story of the lives of many queer people. That might feel overwhelming, but please know you are not alone. There will be many former members of Northwest Yearly Meeting, myself very much included, who would love to journey with you and support you in community. You never need to choose between being LGBTQ and being a Christ-centered Quaker. Among us, you can worship in the manner of Friends, and you can worship with all of the songs that connect to your soul. You can bring any person you love with you to our meetinghouses and bring your Bible too.
I also understand needing to make the choice to stay where you are for the time being, that is ok too. Please feel free to reach out to me directly if there are ways I could offer you support, find resources for you where you are at, or even if you’d just like someone to pray with you. I will always make time to be available for you if you need it, and especially if you are feeling like you are in a crisis, please know you can call me or reach out any time of day. If I happen to not be available immediately during a crisis though, please know there are wonderful folks at the Trevor Project and other crisis lines for LGBTQ people who you can privately reach out to as well.
Take a deep breath for me. If you could, please find your heartbeat again. In addition to being connected to God, you are connected to all of your LGBTQ ancestors, and they are so proud of you. And you know what? I’m proud of you too. Pay attention to the Light that guides us, and remember that you are never alone.
In Friendship and with Love,