The question Queer Theology’s 2018 Synchroblog poses is “What does your queerness or transness call you to do and be in the world?”
It seems lately that everywhere I turn, “calling” and what I’m supposed to (or not supposed to) ”do” and“be” keeps popping up. It popped up in one of the last sermons of my church’s departing pastor, Rev. Kimberly Buchanan (now serving First Congregational UCC in Asheville, NC) last month, for instance. She was preaching on John 1:43–51 where Nathaniel asks Phillip in regards to Jesus, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”. She talked about how his bias was creating “static”, blocking him from hearing God’s calling.
In regards to the prompt question, I think of how much “static” my internalized homophobia and other socialized attitudes created between me and the reality of my queerness; a reality I was actively running from. As I’ve said repeatedly in other writings, it took going to a LGBTQ affirming church to get away from all that static and really accept the fact that I’m bisexual. Ever since that period of realization, it’s been a snowball effect of unlearning attitudes (and theologies!) that kept me confined, confused, and dissatisfied overall with who I was. That breakthrough has bled into most facets of my life from personal relationships to my political ideology.
..which brings me back to what I’m called to do and be. I’ve been searching for what I “am” politically since I could vote (2010). It’s been something that’s been heavily on my mind lately even. I’ve called myself a number of things over the years: libertarian, left-libertarian, libertarian socialist (that’s a thing I promise!). Up until my Queer Breakthrough, it was all theory and being “right”. It wasn’t until I understood how my very existence as a queer bisexual man is perceived and politicized that I realized that my politics couldn’t just be theory and that being “right” just for it’s own sake was empty and pointless. As the popular 60’s and 70’s era feminist rallying cry goes, “the personal is political”; and if I was politically invested in my own liberation as a queer person, then it followed that I must be more invested in the liberation of all marginalized people. To be fair to myself, I was already clued into some issues of racism, homophobia, and poverty but I only approached them from the perspectives I was used to and only listened to the voices I was comfortable with.
I started listening to more voices from the margins of society on issues of faith which led me to listen to voices from the margins on politics too. Hearing those voices led me to better understand not only the oppressive power structures that affected my own life, but also the structures that affected others. Some that, by virtue of maintaining the status quo and occupying a position of social power, I was and am complicit in. So where does that leave me? What or who “am” I?
The journey my queer liberation has taken me down to answer that question has brought me to radical ideas such as basic income and prison abolition. It has reformed my notions of gender and sexuality. It’s brought me to the conclusion that anything that’s holding the least of us of us back is worth throwing out and reimagining. To me, that sounds a lot like anarchism, an ideology that advocates against social and economic hierarchies and State authority, which are the most destructive vehicles of oppression. And for now “anarchist” is what I’ve settled on.
So that’s the “being” part of this question. What does my queerness call me to do? The personal is political but the political is also personal. How can my way of living, my praxis, honor my values as a Queer Anarchist Christian when I benefit from so many oppressive power structures? One way I’ve concluded is to take a radical approach to my personal relationships and to how I conduct myself in my communities, by attempting to mitigate the damage I might do from a position of social power, supporting and amplifying other marginalized folks, and by “queering” the spaces I inhabit.
To be perfectly clear, I’m no activist or scholar. I work a 9–5 office job in the more expensive part of Atlanta that provides relative stability to my household and I’m a musician in the local DIY scene. I’m still learning everyday and I imagine I always will be. I will fail and sometimes fail frequently. I’m often left with more questions than answers but the journey that my queerness has set me on has truly shaped my priorities and the way that I walk in the world and every part of my life is better for it.