A young cisgender* lesbian stepped to the mic at the “Fabulous, Fierce, & Sacred” conference, held 21-23 November in Chicago, Illinois USA, and gave her testimony: “For the first time in a long time, I was able to bring my full self, my full body, mind, and spirit into worship. It was healing.”
Her words brought tears to my eyes. To create a space where someone – especially one who is traditionally marginalized by Christian communities – can experience being part of the convened body of Christ is hard and holy work. Even Christian communities that strive to be nonviolent can have structures, language, theology, and community practices that oppress worshippers, especially those in the queer community.
A broad definition of the community that has reclaimed the word “queer” from being an insult to being a source of power is: those who self-identify as different from heterosexual. Queer is also a verb, as in, to queer a common concept – a way of seeing the world (creatively, not in “straight” lines), and a way of partnering / family-making (blending / disrupting binaries).
Heterosexism targets the queer community. It is a paradigm that places greater moral value on monogamous, heterosexual, married people, their relationships, and their well-being. Like sexism and racism, heterosexism shows up on individual, communal, and institutional levels, and it has severe economic and social implications.
CPT is committed to building partnerships to transform violence and oppression. As an organization, we continue to name and challenge heterosexism and transphobia as part of that commitment.
CPTers and supporters were among the throng of organizers and participants at “Fabulous, Fierce & Sacred.” Indeed the conference lived up to its name, engaging participants in sharing new thoughts, strategizing, and keeping the hard questions of forgiveness, justice, and love alive.
But beyond a conference, “Fabulous, Fierce & Sacred” is a movement – one with which CPT shares similar understandings of social change. Our movements are energized through cross- pollination and mutual support.
In CPT, we welcome every person who is willing to sacrifice, train and commit to peacemaking like soldiers sacrifice, train, and commit to war. Queer members of CPT who survive and thrive in the context of heterosexist violence and oppression bring special and important insights to CPT.
It is out of a vibrant spirituality that deep peacemaking in demanding, volatile settings can occur sustainably. Thank you for being on this journey with us. Your support allows our work to be worship – peacemaking in which all of us are nourished and healed.
*cisgender means someone whose biological sex assignment corresponds with their gender identity.
Originally published as part of the Christian Peacemaker Team’s quarterly newsletter here (sign up!). We got more responses than usual to this newsletter, which was one of my favorite collections of CPT news yet. We connected the violence in Ferguson with what is happening around the world, as well as this article that was a reminded that we do this work in our bodies, and that everyone’s body matters. We got some pushback, but not too much, actually.