“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
- Matthew 5:11-12 (NRSV)
When you look at the faces of your LGBTQ friends, do you see the light of Christ shining through them? I do. When I see a queer couple holding hands in public, or a Pride Parade on the news, I see nothing but love and acceptance — the very things that Jesus tried to teach us. Yet, like Jesus, we are persecuted for the love we share.
I recently attended my local LGBTQ Pride Festival; however, this time was special because I was able to bring my parents. They had never gone to a Pride event before and were nervous that as a straight couple they wouldn’t be welcome. Of course, they were welcomed with open arms! We walked around the booths of churches, stores, clinics, and other love-affirming companies, checking out the diversity of people and handmade items that passed us. It truly felt like a place where anyone could go and feel at home. It was the kind of hospitality that we read in our scriptures, perhaps similar to the way Mary and Joseph felt when they were accepted into the stable where Jesus was born.
This kind of love isn’t unique to Pride. I’ve felt it at every LGBTQ event I’ve attended. I feel it even stronger when I’m faced with opposition to the love I give freely to people of the same gender as me. God gave Jesus a difficult life. He started out as an illegitimate child of a teenage mother in a poor community. Despite his miraculous work and preachings of love, people opposed him because he was a threat to important social norms of his day.
God gave every LGBTQ person a difficult life as well. We ask for love and acceptance but are met with oppression and violence because we threaten the important social norms of monogamous heterosexual relationships. Just like the story of Christ, there will be a day when queer people are accepted and cherished in society. Until then, we as Christians are called to do the work of Christ by openly advocating for and supporting LGBTQ rights and individuals in our communities. Believing that God is love and created each of us in His (or Her) image means that we also believe that gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, and nonbinary characteristics are all part of God too. Rejecting queer people is rejecting God. Loving us is loving God too.
I see Jesus in every rainbow, every hand held, every shot of T, every drag queen, every marriage certificate, and every adoption given to a same-sex couple. I see Jesus in the LGBTQ community because I see the parallel between our struggles and the stories of the gospel. I see our patience, love, and fever for justice just as I saw them in the story of Christ. To truly love Jesus is to love each other, and that is not something that only heterosexuality can claim.
By Sawyer Stefantos, LGBTQ Justice Organizing Intern