Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Dawning of a LGBT Inclusive Day

The week of Thanksgiving is here, the signal for the start of the season’s hectic schedules and sharing of one’s self. Our runaway schedules began yesterday as we hosted the Diocesan chapter meeting for the Episcopalian’s Integrity LGBT group within the Church’s organization.

We had been strongly encouraged to host this month’s meeting, since we complained so much about the location of the last meeting, which was in Savannah. Which, for us it is a drive across the state of Georgia. Dan and Jamie, the long time Co-Coordinators of Integrity had asked us if we would like to talk about being transgender and a member of the Episcopal Church. We did not anticipate how difficult and painful that simple request would become for us.

For several years now we have spoken to several University classes with the intent of educating and advocating for the struggles that trans men and women overcome every day of their lives. However, our church, St Barnabas is the one place where we met a lot of emotional badgering as we tried to explain what I needed to do, and how I wanted my home Church to welcome me back into the flock as Sarah. I needed to explain how important my Church family had become, how much I needed, both spiritually and emotionally to be accepted as Sarah. My spiritual survival hinged on the decisions made of that night; because for me there was no other Church in the City that could replace the importance of St Barnabas’ connections in my life.

As Kay and I struggled with how we should approach the meeting, it opened old wounds of hurt and disappointment as the emotions of that night so long ago can rushing back into our consciousness. As the day of the meeting drew closer, the emotional struggles for both of us grew more intense, strong enough to send us into emotional chaos. For me conducting a discussion about my life’s transition with members of my Church family was very emotional, because the church members who were present are part of my extended family. I believe that with my brother and sisters living so far apart and never getting together it was easier to reveal Sarah to them, than it was to open my heart to my Church family, the people I see every week.

When the Integrity group meets we try to hold it to two hours because of the long distances people have to drive to attend any meeting across the lower part of the State. So at the end of the meeting Kay and I were given a standing acknowledgement of the courage we showed that afternoon, and with the Official Picture in front of our yard sign, everyone went home with a better understanding of the language of transgender and emotional toil that is heaped on us to accept the path given to us to follow. Many attendees thanked me for telling my story, and the story of all trans people.

It appears that a new day is dawning for LGBTQ member of the Episcopal Church of South Georgia with the election of our new Bishop, and we will be a visible presence, demanding spiritual healing and inclusion in the years to come.

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