The UMC and I Almost Helped Someone Commit Suicide
Intersectionality is a difficult concept to explain to people who are not sociologist or psychologists, and it is even more difficult system to live in. Intersectionality is the study of intersections of discrimination, domination and oppression; meaning instead of just focusing on how a Black woman is being oppressed via sexism it would also look at her economic disadvantages, her racial oppression, her social status in her community, her sexual orientation, her gender identity and all that makes up who she is to effectively assess her situation. As a person who is a sexual minority, a racial minority, and a Christian that actively participates in one of the largest homophobic and racially exclusive denominations in the United States, the intersections of my oppression are constantly on my mind. Earlier this week those intersections met in the most violently disturbing way. One of my friends posted suicidal statuses on Facebook. This person has is LGBT and has a history of self-harm. I sprang into the limited action I could, you see this person had moved to another state for a relationship and I had no clue what their address was, the phone calls I made to them were unanswered, as were the text messages and Facebook messages I sent. I called the police in the general region where that person is staying and they could not help. So I did what I could, I cried and I kept calling until this person finally answered the phone and I told them that I was worried for them, that I cared, and that I would always be there for moral support. Crises averted? Well, not really.
I am an active participant in the United Methodist Church, a very hegemonic denomination, it tells LGBT people that they are not welcome, they are not valuable and that they are not fully loved by God. It is in this denomination that God has called me to ministry, it is in this denomination that I serve as a youth director, it is in this denomination that I give my tithes. My money, my time, my gifts, my talents, and my personhood is given to this organization that actively works to oppress people like my friend who almost took their own life out of a sense of utter worthlessness and hopelessness. These ideologies are not foreign to me, I have felt them too – I felt them in Middle School when I was taken to Pastor John because of my “temptations”, I felt them in High School when I was called “faggot” and “nigger” everyday of freshmen year, I felt them last summer at Annual Conference when my friend’s marriage was deemed incompatible with Christian teaching and her call to ministry was cast asunder. I felt these feelings when my bishop sat in a room with me and other seminarians and revealed that though our church rules are unjust to him he will continue to act unjustly because that is his job. I feel this every Sunday I go to work and sit behind the person who sponsored me on my Walk to Emmaus and supports the oppression of LGBT people in the secular realm and their exclusion from participation in our denomination. I feel it every time I see my bank account has sent a tithe to my home church, and I know that money will end up in my conference, a conference that lets youth conferences higher men that force kids to pray against the evil “homosexual agenda”, I feel these feelings every time a Methodist has the audacity to tell me to be patient. I feel these feelings every time I see that my denomination does not value people that look like me.
No child of God should ever feel worthless and hopeless in the churches called to the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. No child of God should ever feel guilty for tithing. No child of God should be the only person of their race in their congregation. This is not the Kingdom of God Jesus promised us.
I cried on Monday afternoon from 3:22PM to 4:05PM because if my friend had taken their life that day, I would have been an accomplice in it. My money, my time, my talents, my gifts, have gone toward building up an institution that tells my friend that their life is not as valuable as a heterosexuals, that God would care more for them if they were only the right sexual orientation. I cried because I felt overwhelmingly guilty for this, but I should not feel guilt- God called me to the UMC, so the blood would be on God’s hands and not mine. And if I felt as guilty as I did on Monday, I can only imagine how guilty God must feel seeing Christians work so hard to kill, demonize, oppresses, and exclude their siblings. If I cried, I wonder how much God wept.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.