Ryan Muralt, Program Development Associate
ReconcilingWorks: Lutherans for Full Participation (@reconcilingwrks)
Invisibility is often a desired “super-power” to be used against enemies or to light-heartedly spook your friends and family. However, there are those in our society who are forced into their invisibility; they do not get the choice to become invisible. Marginalized people like sex workers, transgender people, men who have sex with men, lesbian, gay, bisexual people and children with HIV are often forced to the margins and out of sight only illuminated for the split second mention in a high level speech.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Pause for a moment and think about how this phrase lands on your ears and then continue reading.
This phrase was used in the opening plenary session of the Interfaith Pre-Conference by a faith leader in a moment of grace as he showed the love and care for an HIV positive gay individual who became infected in a way which this theologian deemed sinful. As someone who identifies as gay, this phrase has been used towards my community and towards me personally in the work that I do. I can assure you, I do not feel loved when people say this.
This phrase erases a part of who I am, a huge part of who I am. My life and love with my boyfriend disappears. The legacy of my LGBTQ advocacy work disappears, and it is not an acceptable theological frame for people of faith to root their advocacy work in.
The beauty of this moment during the opening plenary session, is that it had a huge effect on the rest of the pre-conference. It contributed to one of the biggest joint callings for people of faith: to work towards de-stigmatization by rooting our advocacy in a scriptural and theological frame that provides gracious space for the entirety of a person’s life as they live with or are affected by HIV/AIDS.
This work can be difficult as it involves having deep conversations about stigmatized topics and it involves deep relationships which are fostered with our hearts. As people of faith, and as Lutherans, we must work within our theological and Biblical perspectives to make sure our advocacy involves everyone’s whole identity and all of their lived experiences. Invisibility must remain a super power that people wish to elect into in order to spook our families for fun. It cannot continue to be a lived experience, especially when those identities are often sitting right next to you in your pew.