Home and Hope: Conversations at Church about Including LGBTQ People
By Curtis Cannon
There were so many people, many more than I had anticipated, all gathered in the Church sanctuary that first Wednesday. I’m not a member of this particular faith community, but I was thrilled about the topic they would be considering and discussing during the month’s Wednesday gatherings. The program series was about the Church and their relating to and including LGBTQ people. Momentous and exciting stuff. I was again filled with hope.
My journey in the Christian Church began in my infancy – many, many moons ago. Some of my earliest memories are of playing in the nursery, doughnuts, Tang, felt board Bible stories, “Jesus loves me this I know”…We were a very involved Church family with regular participation in the myriad assortment of groups, classes, committees, choir….all of it. I loved it and drew a great deal of identity from my belonging there.
Later, as a teen in high school, I began to realize and grapple with the fact that I was gay. It wasn’t a phase or an affliction, it was simply who I was. I’m able to say that today with a clarity of age I wish I could have known then. I was very distressed then about what was happening with me. After a few cursory “testings of the waters” with trusted leaders in the Church, I was left with a palpable sense that I was in err, that something was wrong with me. Did I grieve God? Was I an abomination? I no longer felt I could be honestly myself in Church. This all coincided with my heading off to college, so I used the opportunity to bow out from Church.
For ten years I bobbed and tossed through a rather tumultuous early adulthood. I think of that time as my years wandering in the desert. I had some great friends and dear confidants, but wouldn’t a home base of faith and solidity have been great?
In 1993 I moved from San Francisco, where I attended school, to Waco. Yes, that’s right, SF to Waco. A radical transition to be sure, but Waco is my mother’s hometown and I had the familiarity of visits in my youth to see grandparents and relatives. I moved out here with the goal of helping my parents organize and sort through my grandparent’s estate. Little did I know it would still be my home 23 years later or that it would mark the next chapter in my spiritual odyssey to wholeness.
I remember sitting in my car outside of the Metropolitan Community Church for a good while before finally mustering up the courage to venture in. I had heard this was an open and affirming Church and actually came into existence so that LGBTQ people could have a welcoming place to worship. It all seemed almost too good to be true. I was home.
In the years since that wonderful homecoming I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a number of organizations and fundraising groups in Waco that that have worked for the equality and betterment of life for LGBTQ people. I’ve also witnessed landmark legislation and court rulings that have made it possible for me and my husband, Dave to be legally married here in our home state (after we’ve lived together as a married couple for 16 years). I’m also grateful to new friends in other circles of belief and faith that have been so welcoming.
Today, I know of a few more congregations that have adopted the practice of true inclusivity (a definite improvement from a few decades ago). My hope is that more and more faith communities will be open to growing in this direction of embracing all people. It’s challenging work to grow beyond what you think you already know, but it’s possible, and I’m truly heartened by those congregations that are committed to this healing and transformative work.
Curtis Cannon studied Theatre at San Francisco State University. He has been a zoo keeper, pre-school teacher, and house flipper. He’s a member of CrossTies Ecumenical Church (who welcome and affirm all people) and is a mission group member and volunteer with the Gospel Café. He and his husband Dave are big fans of all things theater.
The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.