Last night was my dad’s memorial service. I delayed my coming out because of his illness. I knew that he was already struggling with his own mortality and that trying to reconcile the daughter he was so proud of and loved deeply with the ideas he had about LGBT people would be too much for him.
I grew up in the UK during the era of Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female prime minister. Thatcher’s ideal England was as traditional as the Adventist churches I attended every Saturday, and their shared social philosophy was our water and air.
It was Saturday afternoon at 3:38pm: the doors to the auditorium had been open for 18 minutes, and we already had a filled room. We talked about streaming in one overflow room, but we ended up with three rooms. This was the first program Andrews University, the flagship institution of the Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) church, had with LGBT students.
Last week, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed into law a bill that imposes 7-year-to-life sentences for same-sex intimacy, 7-year sentences for those who perform same-sex marriages, and 5-7 years in jail for people and NGOs accused of "promoting homosexuality" or seeking support
Being the loudest queer voice in the Seventh-day Adventist denomination has made me a big target in my church. While many members are genuinely interested in a dialogue, there are still those who wish I would stop talking about equality.
Recently, Brett Hadley, a Bible teacher, pastor and drama coach at Highland View Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school in Maryland, was forced to resign. The reason: he participated in the wedding of his step-daughter, who entered into a same-sex marriage.
“We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced." -Malala Yousafzai
Throughout my life, the majority of negative experiences concerning my sexuality have happened within Seventh-day Adventist Christian institutions, both religous and educational. In school, I learned to use books for shields and hobbies for distractions while words like faggot and abomination were thrown in my direction.
I remember the day I first felt righteous indignation spark deep within my soul about how gays and lesbians were treated in the Seventh-day Adventist church, the denomination my family has been a part of (often in leadership roles) for five generations.