It makes me sad that I spent so many years rallying against religion. Insisting that organized religion was all manners of awful for the LGBTQ community. I was, shall we say, somewhat insufferable on the topic? By the time I was 16 or 17 I was OK with the fact that people went to church or shul or mosque or whatever else people went to, but I didn’t really want much part in it. If a partner had to go to a service for some reason then I’d usually attend, but by and large I wanted nothing to do with organized religion and I assumed that organized religion wanted nothing to do with me.
Fast forward to last night.
Last night I was in a chatroom, something I do every couple of months when I can’t sleep and I can’t think of anything else to do. It’s a chatroom for trans people and usually has between 5 and 15 active people at any one time.
I was also listening to Gail Geisenhainer’s sermon from the 1996 General Assembly, a sermon I’ve listened to no less than a dozen times. She’s talking about the church I attended in Maine, and saying things I really relate to. It’s a great sermon.
At some point somebody said “So what is everyone doing right now?” and everyone started answering.
“Eating dinner. Spaghetti!”
“Um… doing homework. (playing WOW).”
What the heck, I thought? So I put my fingers to the keyboard and tapped out:
“Listening to a sermon. And eating M&Ms.”
“…sermon?” asked one person.
“Intentionally?” quipped somebody else.
I swear sirens went off in my mind. Flashing warning lights, like a submarine under attack. I’d said the wrong thing.
CHANGE THE SUBJECT CHANGE THE SUBJECT CHANGE THE SUBJECT
“Why?” asked a third person.
Oh what the hell, I figured.
“Because I really love this minister’s preaching style and the topic of her sermon.”
“All trans people should be atheists.” explained one person.
At this point the moderator jumped in and gave the official spiel on treading lightly when talking about religion.
“How could you believe in a God who would fucking make us like this?” the same person asked.
I think, maybe, I’d touched a nerve…
“God must be pretty fucked up if he made us like this in a world that hates us. Name one fucking church that doesn’t hate trans people.”
“Would you like to discuss this privately?” I asked.
It was like I was talking to my 14 year old self. And, honestly, I was insufferable.
This person claimed to be 28, and I suppose I have no reason to not believe it. They first went off on the bible, bitching about how it was full of hatred.
“Just so you know,” I said, “I’m happy to talk about my views of the bible, but I’m not Christian.”
“So why were you listening to a sermon?”
I explained a little bit about UUism (which they deemed a pretend religion), and talked a little about the United Church of Christ (Christians who want to pretend the bible is all happy, they explained) and finally, in a moment of frustration, I said, “You seem really angry about this.”
“Stupid people make me angry.” they explained.
“Can you say more?”
“You make me angry. You are being stupid. Pretending there’s some God that loves you and shit when God doesn’t love any trans people.”
“I don’t happen to believe that. I’m not a creationist, I don’t believe that God created us, and I certainly don’t believe that God created us to be mocked.”
At that point I said “you seem pretty set in your views, and I respect that you are an atheist and that you may have been hurt by religion in the past. Here’s a couple of links to different LGBTQ-friendly denominations. Look them over, if you like.”
I logged off.
I was insufferable at 14.
Am I just as insufferable now that I’m on the other side?