By Father John Jeffrey
I am a child of God, a follower of Christ Jesus, and a priest in the Episcopal Church. I am also a middle age, queer, white cis man who carries his own share of baggage from the sloppy theology and biblical illiteracy inflicted on so many LGBTQ+ people by “well-meaning” religious people. Fortunately, I am also the son of faithful parents who taught me that God’s love trumps hate-filled dogma. Parents who, like Jesus, showed God’s love by always finding room at their table and enough food in the pot for anyone who showed up at mealtime. As for why I marched in the Queer Liberation March, as well as NYC Pride, Long Island Pride and Brooklyn Pride, and show up at other Pride and LGBTQ+ events, I also want others to know that there is room for absolutely everybody at Jesus’s table.
As a priest, I wear a pretty recognizable outfit – you all know the one I am talking about; black shirt with a white collar. When I show up, just about everyone knows what I am. Sadly, for many of my LGBTQ+ siblings, especially those subjected by religious leaders who taught a false gospel of hatred and exclusion – “all in the name of Christ” – this collar sometimes is a symbol of exclusion and unwelcome. Many of my LGBTQ+ siblings were taught by other men in white collars that God hates them and wants them to burn in hell.
I want them to know that this hateful deity is not the true God. By showing up to Pride in all my God given queer glory and my white collar; by marching with my LGBTQ+ siblings, by talking with them, and by just being one with them, I pray that they get a little glimpse of the true Jesus. I want them to see the Jesus who taught about God’s steadfast and unconditional love, not just by preaching about it, but by walking with people – all people. I want my queer siblings to know that God not only accepts us for who we are, God loves us for it. Most of all, I want my LGBTQ+ family to know that each of us is perfectly and lovingly made and for that we must celebrate.
Happy Pride, Beloveds, and God bless you all in your own queer glory.
About the Author
The Rev. John Jeffrey Purchal, Interim Rector, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Smithtown, NY