It is not often that the Gospel reading matches an "event day". An "event day" you might ask, how is Columbus Day also an event? Well, today is not only Columbus Day, with many (most?) people in the nation's capital off work, but today is also National Coming Out Day. An important day for those of us who are out to stand up and support those who are taking those first steps out into authenticity. Steps into a world that is still frighteningly a place of intolerance and bullying. Yet still, steps people do and must take.
Jesus heals the naked-cemetery-dwelling-legion filled-demoniac in today's Gospel selection from Luke. The people from Gerasene are frightened by this turn of events and ask Jesus to leave their area. The individual Jesus healed begged to accompany Jesus on his travels, but Jesus says no, as you were content to be by my side after I healed you, and were so frightened of me just before I healed you, remember that contentment and go spread the word of the peace that you feel having been healed.
It must have been a hard life for that healed demoniac while he proclaimed the greatness of God to those who asked Jesus to leave the area. Leave because Jesus had healed those legions that had tortured this individual for so long. Hiding in the closet is like having those legions of personalities inside, never allowing the true light of who you are shine forth. But God made us all, just as we are: gay, lesbian, straight, bi, transgendered. As hard as being ourselves can be, we must always be who we are, as God made us. To do otherwise is living a lie and not giving the gift that is ourselves to the world.
Is this still dangerous? It shouldn't be, but yes it is. We need look no further than today's New York Times and see a candidate for governor of that great state expressing neanderthal-like ideas in regard to sexuality. Just as Jesus healed and affirmed and supported those he healed allowing their true selves to truly shine, we need to support and encourage and love those who are coming out, who have come out, and tell the world that God loves all of us, in all of our wild diversity. And in the same breath, and by our example, tell those who profit from bigotry and hatred that they must stop.
A small step in fighting bigotry and hatred is not accepting the use of terms like "alternate lifestyle choice" for people who are gay. These types of derogatory terms should never be acquiesced to: I do not live alternate to my fellow humans, nor is my sexuality a "lifestyle", nor is it a choice. I am quite simply, a human being who God made gay. This is just a fact.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo courtesy of ("borrowed from") The Louie Stewart Collection.