In 1978 I was a 12 year old girl growing up in Kansas knowing nothing about politics, gays, lesbians or discrimination. I was a white girl growing up in the white bread basket of Kansas. I grew up in a religious family, Christian, Wisconsin Synod Lutheran. I went to church every Sunday, attended parochial school until the 8th grade, was baptized and confirmed in the church. When I was 21 I was removed from the church because I lived in sin with my boyfriend who, seven years later, became my husband.
I always questioned religion. I always questioned everything. I have never been a submissive follower of anything. That was the beginning of my very long search for God, a God of Grace.
Watching the Harvey Milk story I was struck by two things. One, how one person can lead a movement to change his or her part of the world. Two, how much hate and discrimination really is at the crux of all conflict in the world and sadly, how much of that hate and discrimination is religious based.
I am not gay any more than I am not black. I am not a minority in the US, in Rwanda I am. Whatever my religious beliefs are, and they are strong, they are my beliefs. I believe in a God of love and grace, not one of adherence to some man made, man interpreted sense of morality. I rank Anita Bryant and John Briggs, the anti gay legislation advocates right up there with the Muslim Jihadists. Both groups hate, both groups discriminate, both groups have forgotten the Golden Rule of Life...Love your neighbor.
I believe gays and lesbians should have a right to the same opportunities as a heterosexual. Does it really matter their sexual orientation? I personally do not agree with that lifestyle, but honestly, it is not my job to convert, fix, discriminate, legislate or judge their life. It is their life and it's between them and God, Allah, Buddha or no one. As a Christian, I only must show grace and love.
I respect Harvey Milk and the movement he led against Anita Bryant, John Briggs and Prop 6. I am happy they persevered and yet, I am Christian. Sadly, Harvey was taken from this world much too soon. Because of the hate of one Christian man, Dan White, two innocent men left this world much too soon. It is no different than the hate James Earl Ray had for Martin Luther King Jr., than the Sudanese Muslims have for the Nuban Sudanese Christians, than Hitler had for the Jews. In the end, the hater always loses.
This morning as I sat down to write I saw an article on Facebook, "Kansas House Green Lights Anti-Gay Bill". Have we not learned anything? Does hate have to continue under the guise of legislation? Kansas is also the home to uber gay and lesbian hater, Fred Phelps. Is it 1978 again? When I started "googling" this proposed legislation I came across a blog, Joe. My. God. I don't know anything about Joe, but he had written a blog about this legislation. What struck me was not the blog, but the following comments:
I wasn't quite "there" yet, but after reading this I'm beginning to really hate christians.
God I get sick of gay people trying to make excuses for Christianity. Pick a side and show a little loyalty to your tribe. Christianity is our enemy, and they deserve all the hatred we reflect back at them.
Just more hate....hate on both sides. Do not lump me in that hatred pile. I choose to believe in Grace. For that reason I pray for both sides. I pray for all the haters in this world.
At every meal Team Rwanda prays. We stand in a circle holding hands with one another, with Pentecostal Christians, 7th Day Adventists, Catholics and Protestants, Muslims, and guests, guests who are Jewish, Buddhists and unbelievers. I hold hands with all and we pray together. We pray in Kinyarwanda, English and French. We stand together, white, black, two sides, once mortal enemies in the 1994 genocide. We are one group with many different beliefs, but one thing we all hold in common....love, it is the greatest of these.