Throughout our years of direct action, Love Prevails has felt called to expose and name the truth. The truth of the goodness, dignity and faithfulness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer United Methodists and the truth of the sins of homophobia, heterosexism, hatred and exclusion that lie at the heart of our denomination’s policies towards people with non-conforming sexual orientations and gender identities.
Sometimes it is hard work to expose the truth to others.
Sometimes the truth shows up on its own.
This is what happened yesterday when the majority of delegates voted to make debate of the Traditionalist Plan, the most extreme and punitive anti-LGBTQ+ of the plans, a top priority. And today it was approved to move to a final vote tomorrow.
From Love Prevails’ perspective, the prioritization and possible passage of the Traditionalist Plan may be the closest to springing the truth than we have ever been. The truth is ugly. This truth is: at the heart of our denomination is a hatred for queer people. We have a deep fear of admitting this is the truth.
The majority of forces within our pro-LGBTQ movement have this same fear: that at worst the powers that be in the church hate us and at best they fail to care deeply about our lives. If this were not so, then why would we accept any plan that does not make a statement of absolute and utter affirmation of lesbian, gay, queer, transgender and queer lives? Why does our movement affirm plans that at best (the Simple Plan) remove the language of hate and discrimination against us, but says nothing affirmative about queer folx, and at worst (the One Church Plan) continue to explicitly sanction discrimination against us at local levels?
Love Prevails believes the following. If the progressive movement were to force an unequivocal affirmation of our queer goodness, the backlash would be so fierce that the truth of the depth of our hatred would be undeniable. So to avoid this truth emerging, the movement returns over and over to the strategies and plans of the past – attempting to convince a moveable middle (that has never moved because it never existed), finding ways of smoothing our speech and actions to protect ourselves from ultimate rejection, and believing that agreeing to disagree is a gospel solution to confronting injustice and evil in whatever forms they present themselves.
The truth is that Traditionalist Plan is who we have allowed ourselves to become, through our own complicity, complacency, comfort, privilege, internalized oppression, inaction, and tolerance of evil. The Traditionalist Plan in the UMC was predicted twenty years ago in analysis after analysis of the Christian right’s strategy to dismantle mainline Protestant denominations after the successes of the 1960s in African-American struggles for freedom, the battles for binary gender equality, and trans-led resistance for queer lives. We have naively believed that this would not happen to us.
Liberals and progressives have a fantasy that we are better than this. This moment reflects that we are not. The greater harm than the Traditionalist Plan may be continuing to lie to ourselves about this. This may sound cynical. We think it is true. We at Love Prevails are not planning to do anything to tamp this truth down. We will see how this process unfolds to reveal just how corrupt the process is and how dishonest we have been with ourselves.