Five people were killed and at least 25 injured when a young man walked into a queer bar in Colorado Springs and started shooting.
We don’t need any more “thoughts and prayers” after these acts of violence. I’m not saying don’t pray for people, but I am saying don’t announce it. Pray in your closet.
What we need is bravery.
We need politicians who are willing to lose their seats in order to do what is right, whether that is to pass a bill guaranteeing marriage equality or enact sensible gun control or stop the foolishness on school boards or in governors’ offices that want to ban books and prevent teachers from talking about LGBTQ issues.
“We need pastors who are willing to lose their pulpits to speak truth about LGBTQ lives.”
We need pastors who are willing to lose their pulpits to speak truth about LGBTQ lives, to call for full equality and inclusion in the church, and to challenge other pastors who pass on lies and bad biblical interpretation about LGBTQ people.
We need churches willing to get kicked out of associations and denominations for welcoming LGBTQ people, calling LGBTQ pastors, and engaging in meaningful ways with LGBTQ communities around them.
We need straight people willing to lose friends and family to speak up on behalf of LGBTQ folks, to intervene when lies and misinformation become part of the conversation, to participate in activism around LGBTQ concerns. We need you not to act insulted or afraid if someone labels you LGBTQ, as if that’s a bad thing. We need you to stand with us.
What we need is investment.
We need investment in accurate, age-appropriate sex education. We need access to gender-affirming health care.
We need centers for LGBTQ youth and suicide prevention efforts and education for teachers, pastors, doctors, parents and others who regularly interact with LGBTQ kids.
We need infrastructure for addressing homelessness, addiction, violence, HIV/AIDS and other systemic problems that arise from homophobia, transphobia and their intersections with gender, race/ethnicity, social class, age, ability and religion.
What we need is safety.
We need to be able to walk down the street, go to church, shop in any section of the clothing store and go to our nightclubs without fear of ugly words, assault and death.
We need to be able to come out without worrying whether or not we’ll be mistreated or rejected.
We need help when the abuse and hatefulness and self-loathing drive us to suicidal thoughts.
“We need Christian people to stop harming us by saying, ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner’ and then proceeding to mistreat us in the name of God.”
We need Christian people to stop harming us by saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” and then proceeding to mistreat us in the name of God.
We need people to stop killing us.
We need accountability.
We need people who have done harm to make restitution.
We need the society and people who have enabled violence against us to take responsibility for their roles when they have preached against LGBTQ people, called LGBTQ people an “abomination,” mocked and ridiculed LGBTQ people, supported homophobic and transphobic politicians, called for book bans and censorship of LGBTQ education, tried to interrupt drag queen story hour and make public drag illegal, and opposed gun control.
We need the church to renounce homophobia and transphobia and work to mitigate the harm the church has done in its behavior toward LGBTQ people.
We need understanding, compassion and action.
We need people in the pews to care enough about LGBTQ people to get out and vote for candidates who will enact legislation to support LGBTQ people, to call pastors and church staff who will lead in efforts to welcome LGBTQ people in their churches, to engage with LGBTQ communities on issues that affect them, to love and support their LGBTQ children, and to oppose every effort to target, limit and stigmatize LGBTQ people in church or education or health care or law.
We need bravery.
We need everyone to stand up despite the cost and take action to end bigotry, discrimination, hate, violence and oppression against LGBTQ people.
And we need everyone to work for welcome, full inclusion, equitable treatment and celebration of LGBTQ people.
So if you want to offer thoughts and prayers, do so by your actions. Otherwise, thoughts and prayers are just words. And we’ll have more dead queer people the next time and the next and the next.
Susan M. Shaw is professor of women, gender and sexuality studies at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Ore. She also is an ordained Baptist minister and holds master’s and doctoral degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Her most recent book is Intersectional Theology: An Introductory Guide, co-authored with Grace Ji-Sun Kim.
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