Thus says the Lord: These I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. - Isaiah 56:7 (NRSV)
Last year, I came out of the closet again and remembered the community I’d found in coffee shops, bars, and women’s music years ago when I had been out the first time. Only half-joking, I said to my new girlfriend, “Take me to the lesbians!” “Ah honey,” she laughed, not unkindly, “we don’t do that anymore. We’re everywhere now.”
We’re everywhere now. I could not have imagined it as a teenager, tentatively requesting a book from the locked case behind the school library desk so I could research “homosexuality” both for speech class and for my own questioning heart. We’re everywhere now. I could not have imagined it as a young adult, in a Bible study where respected elders wondered out loud if people like me should be permitted to be pastors. We’re everywhere now. Even in the decades I was married to a man, claiming bisexuality but effectively closeted, working as an ally in the freedom-to-marry movement, I could not have imagined it.
The books are on open shelves now, not kept locked behind some desk. In many churches, new questions are being asked at Bible study. And, if I choose to legally marry again, I can. We really are everywhere now.
The truth is, we were everywhere before too. We just had to suppress it then. Yes, we have a lot further to go. But in my lifetime, we have gone from furtively hiding to joyfully journeying to the holy mountain. Just as the prophet promised.
Holy One, thank you for your prophets, who both foretell and reveal. With joy, we stream onto your holy mountain, and worship in your house of prayer, a house for all peoples. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is pastor of Vancouver United Church of Christ. Her writing appears in the collection, The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms For the Struggle, available from The Pilgrim Press.