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How could the LGBTQ+ Christian community and their allies support you to overcome the effects of shaming experience(s)?
The best thing you can do is to recognize that people who shame you are only revealing themselves. They're speaking from their own shame. It's all projection. So please, please don't own it! Don't internalize their shame!
Imagine yourself basked in shimmering golden rainbow light, and those shaming words just flow right around you, like water, nothing to do with your beauty and peace and wholeness. You do you and everything else can go right around you.
Meanwhile we, in this community, do what we do best: loving others with tenderness and compassion! After all, that's what it's all about, isn't it??
Provide non-judgmental space for people to reflect and share their stories. Welcome all.
Be present in any discussions. Understand it's OK to ask questions but then listen to what is heard.
Involve LGBTQ in participating and leading worship. Provide opportunities to validate us through ministry opportunities. Encourage those who are called to explore a calling to becoming ordained.
Teach and model an inclusive gospel. Don't be frightened to explore the full range of diversities in our communities.
Look after the physical and emotional needs of LGBTQ, e.g. Unisex bathrooms, Be aware of the vulnerable in your church community.
Be open to change. Provide physical resources and funding if possible (e.g. my church has assisted me to attend GCN conference in the past)
Ensure Christ is the center of everything you do.
Catch me when I'm being self-deprecating, even in a humorous way. I think queer folks have a really easy way of kind of poking at our pain to take the sting out of it, or even poking at ourselves to make light of the fact that maybe we don't like each ourselves a whole lot.
The other thing would be more practical: make opportunities for queer folks to serve in churches. So many of us were already serving in churches before we came out, and being able to come back into a church and serve with our full selves is a deeply healing experience.
Laura Beth Buchleiter
Affirmation is an elixir. We need to hear from each other and from our allies that we are valued. Whether we clock into a cubicle, drive a truck, or speak on a platform - the old narratives are always treading just beneath the surface of our newly affirmed selves, waiting for any excuse to make speak the old likes into our new truths. We need new words and new voices to serve as a proxy for the new reality: the one that says we are worthy and free from shame exactly as we are (even though we are still far from perfect). The two or three people who serve as that voice to me have often saved my life.
Normalizing shame and the particularly common experiences of shame within our community is powerful. Reading Vicky Beeching’s book, Undivided, led to so many “me too!” moments. Every time LGBTQ+ Christians share their experiences, even or especially the cringe-worthy experiences, we collectively reduce our shame.
Love. Unconditionally. Listen to people’s voices and experiences. Hear them and try to listen to understand and not to respond and be right. This would help us all.
LGBT Christian community’s allies could support me by helping to tear down the patriarchy and the toxic masculinity that infects our churches. Don’t make marriage such a central part of our church life either. There are more important things to focus on.
LGBTQ+ Christian? Don’t judge. Let conservative Christians be so and liberal Christians be so. We are all on a journey and don’t need more shame put on us.
We need one another to understand the erroneous tales of shame we tell ourselves, and voice to counter the false narratives we play. My LGBTQ+ siblings are an imperative part of my shame recovery, to model God’s truth for me. I also find it incredibly breathtaking with an ally loves me fully...not because they have to, but because they have learned about the depths of love. I am always moved to sit with an affirming parent who just get it, you know, that persistent, I’ll-fight-for-you-no-matter-what kinda love. They, somehow, move things in my emotional world, bringing order and peace to a once (and still perhaps) bruised heart. I love me some allies!
I’ve already experienced tremendous support from the LGBTQ+ Christian community in the areas of entering into conversations about mental health and trauma. Having honest conversations about the continued effects of shame not only in my own self-esteem but also in my reactions to my work, my performance, and my relationships has helped to remind me of my inherent worth as an image bearer of God. Further ways to encourage this would be to make space in majority culture for representation and for minority voices so that we can give honor to a diversity of experiences and journeys. It is only when we honor one another that we can challenge one another.