Friday, October 30, 2015

#HERO Fear and Love and Action

As I write this there is less than 4 hours left to early voting in Houston, where the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance is on the ballot. (Remind me again why rights are on a ballot? Well, we haven't time for that, now.)

So if you're opening this at 6:00pm and don't think you'll get to your local polling station on Tuesday, go vote now. And vote YES on ONE in the Houston city propositions (there are a couple of state and county props, too, and worthy of your consideration). This will be here when you get back. You have until 7:00pm. Click HERE if you don't know where to early vote.

I have three words today:

FEAR: I've said the anti-HERO campaign has been full of fear. I want to ask the people behind this, "who are the people, specifically, who are the trans people who have frightened you? Who are the trans people who have threatened or hurt you?" Maybe they have a story to tell, maybe they're going off what they've heard. Either way, I realize that there is a lot of fear that has not been attended to.

And, look, I'm fearful, too. I'm afraid of the people who are anti-HERO. I'm afraid to be in their presence and tell them I'm a gay man. I'm afraid of conversations I overhear on public transportation that uses "gay" as an epithet, as a way of raising a conflict, of accusing someone of being "less than." I'm afraid of how effective "gay" is as an epithet is in some of these situations. There's lots of fear to go around.

But when we let fear rise to the level of wanting to take away people's rights, when it rises to the level of demonizing each other, most likely without even knowing one another, this becomes, in biblical terms, bearing false witness. It's easy and we've all done it. It's also one of the top ten "thou shalt nots." We need to repent from this fear and the urge to spread lies about one another.

LOVE: Love casts out fear. (Click the link to the biblical reference and a multitude of ways that source has been translated.) I don't know what more to say about love. It isn't warm fuzzy love, it isn't romantic love, it's a harder love love that than, and by harder, I don't mean harsh (as I feel perhaps some anti-HERO people might mean it) but I mean difficult for the one who loves. It involves getting to know someone better. It involves seeing in one another the Image of God. It's not an easy Hollywood falling in love story. It's a practice.

ACTION: I'm, in my soul, Lutheran. By upbringing and education (if not by current church membership), I am Lutheran. We do not believe action (works) saves us. Yet, I don't think you'll find many Lutherans would argue that action is useless. We have whole agencies involved in helping people, from disaster relief to social services.

Here's a confession: I'm a terrible activist. I've been in more than one situation where I've gone to help out on one or another campaign, and when it came to doing something beyond licking envelopes and writing letters, I seize up. Specifically, when it comes to talking to random strangers, either in person on the phone, my entire body reacts in a way that I can't do it. It's ridiculous, given the things I've done in my life, from performance to writing to chaplaincy with dying people back in seminary. It's something I need to explore more, as I obviously have no problem with writing, I've had no problem with public speaking or being on a panel discussion or two (long ago---but would do it again). I've had no problem with inviting strangers in a bar to writie on my lycra-clad body with a Sharpie.

So I write. I bless the people who are able to phone bank, who are able to walk up to a strangers door and ring a doorbell. They deserve so much credit for almost every social movement that has ever gone forward. But I write. I engage, when I can, on social media (slacktivism, I do believe it's called, and so there I am).

But really, the action we need most right now is getting to the polls. Vote.

Houstonians: Please Vote YES on ONE.

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