Love is Queer Power
Why queer formation? Because only Love moves us forward.
One of the reasons I think we need a conversation about formation in the queer community is because, like it or not, we find ourselves at the center of a massive cultural collision. It has long been a marvel to me that when you ask the question about LGBTQ persons in the church, you begin to pull on a string that unravels all our assumptions. Pursuing this thread brings unexpected baggage into the light. This is especially the case for queer people of color, even more so for queer women of color who stand at the intersection of the ruptures in our society.
I deeply hesitate to make claims about what any individual queer person ought to do because of this unique (and unasked for) situation. But some of us may feel drawn to engage, to use our voices to advocate for change in the way that we and other minorities are seen and treated. And to the extent that we are so drawn, I believe we will be transformative (in the long, grand sense) only to the extent that we are formed as people who love well.
The Biblical call to love our enemies is profoundly distorted when we detach it from the revolutionary program of resistance to injustice that Jesus and the prophets model. The call to love, as the call to humility, is not a call to passivity. Quite the opposite. To love those who hate and curse us gives a much longer view to the efforts of activism. It is more audacious to hope that securing the flourishing of queer people will also be to secure the flourishing of “normal” people, that their good (and even good of those who reject us) is wrapped up in ours. I believe loving our enemies is a paradoxically self-affirming position for queer people to occupy.
Love, you see, flows most freely from the heart of one who has deeply internalized that they are Beloved, that their creative and individual presence is profoundly good for those around them. Without this inner belonging, our work of activism or social justice or service loops back around into an attempt to secure our own worth and prove that we belong. This is a sure road to burnout, for there is never a point at which activity is enough to prove Belovedness.
To say that the flourishing of queer people is a key movement in the flourishing of everyone, is to deeply affirm the beauty and belonging of queer lives in our world. It is to say that whereever we are enabled to flourish as we are meant to do, that place will be blessed and enlivened and enriched. This vision not only affirms queer people as allowed to exist, tolerated; rather it sees us as essential to the well being of our neighbors. I suspect that many of us have not dared to think this audaciously.
When I speak of the need for formation among queer people, then, I am envisioning a community of those who have so deeply internalized their own Belovedness and belonging, are so settled within their own skin, feet on the ground, with nothing to prove, that they are empowered to work not only for their own good but for the good of those who would oppose them. This in the end, I think, is what Jesus is after. And I have a suspicion that such queer people, whether they identify as “Christian” or not, will be a profound force of change for good in our world.
But such love is hard. It is not a spontaneous reaction; it must be learned, intentionally, through training. It requires deep work to integrate one’s own self, to rethink our interconnectedness, to practice love incrementally. This is the way of apprenticeship, of formation, and this is the road I believe we need queer lives to walk toward fullness, for the sake of the world.