Holidays with families of origin or families of choice are fraught with expectations—some positive and some less than positive. Will old habits continue or will new traditions replace them? Some of us simply choose not to go home because it just hurts too much. So even if it is important to mom and dad for me to go to their home church, I won’t. They were too unwelcoming to Walter and I one Christmas eve, and we have other options.
I’m thankful this season for laughter and tears caused by a sitcom—Glee. I’m particularly thankful that they have had a plot line on anti-gay bullying. Not just one episode that solves the problems of the world in an hour, but an open story line addressing the realities of bullying in school.
In the last episode, the gay guy, Kurt, chooses to escape the bully by moving to a private school with a zero tolerance policy on bullying. His newlywed parents forego their honeymoon to pay for his tuition—for his safety–when other options fall short. So, if you can afford it, you can find a zero tolerance zone? Too often those who really need the protection just don’t have these kinds of resources. The recent transgender day of remembrance drives the point home.
But it did make me wonder about these holidays and all the family pressure to be happy and what it might be like if they were all zero tolerance for bullying zones. And what if our denomination could suspend its anti gay policies to allow for such a zone in the church? The October PRRI/RNS News poll, conducted by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service, found that two-thirds of Americans see connections between negative messages coming from places of worship about homosexuality and higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.
What if this Thanksgiving there was no extra expense required to be safe at home or in church? What if this Thanksgiving we didn’t have to light another candle in memory of one who couldn’t find a zero tolerance zone?
In my thanksgiving, I’ll keep a vision of just such a world alive in my heart. That would be something to be Glee-ful about.
Prior to RMN, Troy served for 13 years on the pastoral staff of Bering Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. He directed Bering’s on-site counseling center for those affected by HIV/AIDS. Outside Bering’s sanctuary in 1999, he performed a “street wedding” for a lesbian couple celebrating 25 years together and facilitated Bering’s equal treatment of all couples policy. He also coordinated Bible Study, mission trips, retreats, and nonviolence training. Facing a bomb threat with 50 other couples, Troy and Walter, shared promises and rings on Freedom To Marry Day, February 12, 2003 for their 5th anniversary.