I want to introduce you all to Rae Schneider, a Christian Pastor and a woman who loves women. However, she was not always known by her real name.
Her journey started out as an anonymous writer, @mysilenthalf. She would frequently write ‘confessions’ to an online community about her struggles with her faith, sexuality, love and acceptance. Rae could no longer run away from her sexuality, and she had run out of excuses to ignore it.
Something that deeply frustrates me about society is the belief that faith and sexuality cannot co-exist. Last year at a SUSU LGBT event, a friend asked me if any Christians were a part of our society. When I replied that I wasn’t sure, she immediately assured me that Christians would not want to join an LGBT society. Now, I do not profess to be a devout Christian. However I had a Christian upbringing and I respect my family roots. I also believe in an all-loving God who would not judge His creation.
Rae asserts that the LGBT community has a right to ‘cringe’ at the word Christian, because the Christian community has failed them. I remember at a SUSU LGBT lunch in early 2014, the House of Commons were debating gay marriage on the big screens in the Bridge. For a long time, the Church had been resisting same-sex unions. However, it had gotten to the stage where the Church had to confront its fear of change.
It has to be said that not all Christians interpret the Bible literally. When Leviticus 18 professes that ‘you shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination,’ some Christians, like Rae place this law in its context. During this time, the Israelites were trying to build a community whereby any ‘wasted seed’ was viewed contrary to the law. This law existed alongside professions against child sacrifice, idolatry and incest. However, society today only focuses on one part of the scripture, the part that seems to suggest that Christianity is utterly against the LGBT community.
Rae understands the Bible as something that ‘grows and breathes alongside us’ and is not stagnant.
Rae sets a revolutionary precedent because she fully believes in Grace and Love. If Jesus were here today, I believe He would love the LGBT community. Jesus wanted to inspire love and union, not social segregation.
I don’t want you to think that I am trying to force religion on you, because I am not. I just want you to be open-minded and to be aware that faith and sexuality can be intimately intertwined.
Rae teaches us not to silent, because if we are silent, it makes us believe that we are alone. Rae asserts that we are not alone, that we are worthy and that we must keep going. Our stories about our sexuality and our struggles are important because they inspire others to find their inner strength. Rae wanted her voice to echo so that others in our community could find hope and that one day they could liberate themselves.
But sometimes, we need a little magic like Rae to help us find our way. Her foreword is written by Tennessee Martin, who also speaks to an online community about her coming-out journey in the Deep South and her dreams that now have her working with Warner Bros in Los Angeles. She taught me to never back down, and to embrace every obstacle, for they present us with a unique opportunity for growth. She embodies everything I hope to become because she has fought, and she has survived. These women are the bravest and most inspiring people I have ever known. They are the reason that I found the courage to come-out and why I do not give up on one day, finding love.
It is an honour to present them to you this LGBT History Month.