Can you be a member of the LGBT community and still be a Christian? A Louisville online talk show recently discussed this topic. Holly Knight's Round Table show, by Prism Productions, invited guests and audience members to explore this issue at the now-closed bar, Starbase Q. (Look for more about that story later this week.)
The show's guests included Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard, ministry leader of Highland Baptist Church's True Colors Ministry; and Charlena Andrews, a local transgender woman and Christian.
The panel began by discussing whether it was even possible for someone to be a member of the LGBT community and a Christian. Bojangles explained that it depends on who is deciding the answer to that question. He feels that Christianity is a personal decision between an individual and the Creator that should not be bound by the determinations of any other person. Charlena added that Christ called for "whosoever believes" without any disclaimer or limitation.
Holly added that, of course, there are side effects of some Christians not believing that members of the LGBT community can also be Christians. Charlena responded that this action comes from people putting the LGBT community in boxes much the same way that people put God in a box. Bojangles said that it also comes from centuries of the church having an elementary view of certain scriptures in the Bible. At the time these scriptures were written, people did not have an understanding of current, loving homosexual relationships. Charlena shared that she has spiritual gifts, and that God did not take back these gifts the moment she came out as a transgender woman.
When asked what can be done to help remove this barrier, Charlena affirmed that LGBT people just have to go to churches and be themselves. Bojangles also noted that there also has to be an apology from the church for the harm that has been done. "Churches have to be more than 'open and affirming'," he added. "They have to actively go into the LGBT community and invite them to be part of the family."
Charlena finds that the transgender community is less accepted than their lesbian, gay, and bisexual counterparts. "When transgender people show up at church," she says, "there is a tell-tale sign that they are there because they are wearing clothing of the gender different from their birth." Gay, lesbian, and bisexual people can walk into church undetected if they wish.
All of the members of the panel are also members of the Kentucky Faith Leaders for Fairness group. This group is part of a larger coalition of groups that are working toward a statewide Fairness law. Bojangles said this group is vital to the cause because, in Kentucky, legislators respond to ministers and congregations, people who can be witnesses in Frankfort that God's people believe in equality.
Photo: openphoto.net/A. Leen