The idea was to use the shirts as a conversation starter
(Which oh, they were), apologizing to the LGBT community for the way the church has treated them…
to apologize for people who shout hate and for the judgment Christians have
thrown at them. It was a good day, the kind after which I go home and
feel like I have just been able to catch a glimpse of what heaven looked
like, and feel strangely fulfilled.
I love the shirt.
And I haven’t quite stopped wearing it.
One day when I was wearing the shirt, my aunt (who has been an out
lesbian for as long as I can remember) asked me what I was sorry for.
We were hanging out with a few other family members, telling jokes and
making cracks on each other over lunch. I looked at her and said I was
sorry for the way the church has often shoved the LGBT community outside
of our doors, rather than welcoming them in. And sorry for the pain
that’s caused. And sorry that not enough people looked into her eyes
and said they loved her and that God loved her and that she shouldn’t have to be afraid of being hurt by the people who love Jesus.
She started crying.
There, in the middle of the restaurant, my aunt (we say we’re each
other’s favorites, but we’re not allowed to tell anyone else…) was
broken because of a t-shirt I was wearing, and it opened the door for a
question she’d never before asked me:
Have you ever been ashamed of me?
I… what?! No!
And out came the story… the reason she never came to the parties I
invited her to… the services i invited her to… my graduation…
hanging out with my friends… All this time, she’d known about my
faith and thought, at some place deep inside, that even though we had a
blast when we were hanging out together, that something would change if I
took her around my friends… that I’d find a reason to be ashamed of
being seen with her.
That knocked the wind clear out of me.
For as much as I loved my aunt… For as much as I invited her to every special event in my life… For as much as I envied her ability to be exactly who she is and never give it a second thought… For as much as I found unconditional acceptance in
her arms… She wondered if I would feel those same things in my
communities of friends, seeing as how they were largely Christian and
Christians happened to be the people who judged and shoved her the most.
I looked at her and told her that on the contrary, that it had been
my relationship with her that has made me vocal in those same
communities about the way Christians treat the LGBT community. Because she
matters and because she’s taught me to see that every single person
matters. And if they won’t matter to the world at large, they’ll matter