For years, my work has been grounded in breaking open the doors of the church for queer and trans people, but that hasn’t always translated into opening those same doors for myself out in my community. One of my favorite places to share a meal or have a meeting with community partners is a tiny bodega with the best tamales and pupusas. The owner of the bodega, Margarita, always greets me with a smile when I walk in the door. In a way, Margarita has become an abuela to me. However, I noticed I hesitated before going inside whenever I was there for a work meeting about LGBTQ inclusion. I wondered, if Margarita truly knew about the work I do as a queer person of faith, would she still welcome me?
Recently, I organized a press conference of LGBTQ affirming faith leaders for the Masterpiece Cake Shop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission oral arguments before the Supreme Court. I ordered catering from the bodega for the participants after the press conference. When I rushed inside to confirm the catering order, I blurted out, “do you know what I do?!” Her response was short and simple: “You work with churches and pastors.” Though I worried how she might respond, I knew I couldn’t just leave it at that. I took a deep breath and said, “I work to invite churches to welcome and affirm LGBTQ folks, and to live out that welcome beyond the walls of their congregations.” Instead of judgement or shame, Margarita shared with me that she sees her bodega as a gift from God and that her faith clearly informs her practice to have a door that is open to all. I was so relieved hearing Margarita’s affirmation of me and the work I do.
Realizing how worried I was to tell her about it, and that I was willing to cheapen my relationship to her by not sharing about myself was terrifying. Working in NC over the past year, I have been inspired by the number of people willing to step up and clearly name LGBTQ inclusion as a practice of faith. This quote from Gloria Anzaldua, full captures what causes that “knot in the stomach” feeling: “Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.”
At More Light we are working for a world where no one needs to hesitate outside of the doors of a cafe, or the doors of a church because they know they will be welcomed as their full selves on both sides of that door. As we come to the close of 2017, we are asking for your help. We are so close to our year end goal of $3000. A gift from you will help us cross the threshold into the new year with confidence! In a moment when the question of “who is welcome” is the subject of court cases, legislation, and administrative action, we are called to be more clear, direct, and explicit in our welcome as people of faith. We are called to overcome the borders we are creating and that are being created in our name. Join us in creating a world that is #OpenToAll.