I speak as both a transgender woman and as an Anglican priest, currently serving as an Uniting Church Minister. As a Queer Christian I am not alone. There are many of us in Sydney, and across the world. For we, and queer people of other faiths, have always existed. We can be found in the Bible, throughout history, and we are very much alive today. Yet our lives are so commonly denied. For we are an inconvenient truth: inconvenient both to the Christians who oppose us, and inconvenient also to others, including some in the queer community, who would deny our lives. As such, we are at the heart of the continuing culture wars we seek to end today and we share in the solidarity and hope which this gathering embodies. Indeed, without us the battles we face together simply cannot be won. We so need each other and we badly need others to hear our voices and act upon them...
Orlando - a watershed?
The terrible killings in Orlando seem to have a number of complex dimensions and even the FBI have a great deal of work to do in establishing the background and dynamics - not helped by Trump and co. It is a little difficult therefore (unless one is Donald Trump) to be too dramatic in reflection on it. Yet, as we shared a moving vigil last night in my regional community of Toowoomba - organised through the gradually emerging local LGBTI community - I was also left wondering whether this horrendous event may yet be part of a watershed.
I am struck, for example, by the way in which several US Catholic bishops have responded in a sensitive and humbled manner to LGBTI people. Maybe such awful carnage may bring some to at least slow the sex and gender wars? Certainly in my community, amid the sorrow and solidarity, there was a sense in which such an event cannot roll back the past but rather it will empower us to a new level, finally nailing homophobia, for example, as what it is - a (self) destructive mental illness afflicting individuals, particular groups and society as a whole.
In my community, this was only the second time the local council had also affirmed the LGBTI community publicly - lighting up a new central (Victoria Street) bridge in rainbow colours (and a good deal more easier to get permission this time round than for IDAHOT recently) - and I was impressed by the brilliant mutual networking at such short knowledge and the articulate confidence of some of our young people attending: light in the darkness for sure
Last week I heard Susan Cottrell, a strong US Pflag and LGBTI ally, speak about the journey she has made with the LGBTI community. Someone asked if marriage equality had made a positive difference in the USA - yes, she said, but also no: it had driven some hardliners into deeper denial and anger about their 'defeat'. Perhaps the Pulse killings are a symptom of that negative aspect. I suspect however that they may also be impelling a fresh decisive stage in the growing watershed of more compassionate change.
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.