The story of my journey toward accepting LGBT people is really quite short and boring. I never really thought about homosexuality much going up. My friends and I often used the word “queer” as a put down toward classmates, but thinking back it was just a general term referring to anyone who offended us in any way.
I led a very active life in high school, like most adolescents; I was active in my church youth group, sang in the choir, and was a member of the church-sponsored Explorer Post that my sister and I were instrumental in getting to go co-ed rather then let the organization fail. My sister and I were not particularly close, but we did have the above listed activities in common. After high school, like most of my high school friends, I went off to college. It was on a visit home that homosexuality became an issue in my life.
I rode with my sister to pick up a friend of hers at a college a few hours from our home. On the return trip, my sister, Pat, and her friend road in the back seat while I drove. I soon realized that they were holding hands and sneaking a kiss, not realizing that I could see them in the rear view mirror while watching the traffic around me. I was not offended by their behavior. When we got back home I asked my sister if she was gay. Pat asked me if it mattered. With not much hesitation I replied, “No.” She then told me that all of the girls that joined the Explorer Post were lesbians except for me and one other. I was neither offended nor appalled. I was rather surprised that I was so naive.
Later, when I transferred to a different university there were three lesbians on my dorm floor. We became good friends. As I have continued my life’s journey I have made friends and acquaintances with many people from many walks of life. Because of my continued involvement in church, most of the people I am acquainted with are Christians and yes, many are homosexual Christians. I believe and have always believed that all humans are created in the image of God. We are all God’s children and are all equally entitled to God’s grace. When did we, as humans, attain the right to judge, prejudge and condemn God’s creation?
I don’t understand homophobia. I have never had any of my lesbian friends “hit on” me. While I have only a very few gay friends there is nothing in their character that would lead me to believe they are anything but children of God who need love, friendship, understanding and compassion, just like we all do. I hope and pray that in my life time all humans can come together with respect and acceptance of each other.
A side note: My sister was married on December 9, 2000 in the Episcopal Church by a homosexual priest who is an activist in the Episcopal Church for inclusion. Of course, the marriage is not legal in Maryland where the ceremony took place, but most of Pat and Berthie’s family and friends were joyfully present.
Susan Cissel is an Elder at the St. Croix Reformed in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a teacher at the Kingshill School and the mother of two boys.