‘On speaking queerly in public’: message from a visit to a US church

A few days ago I visited the Dumbarton United Methodist Church in Georgetown, Washington D.C. We have a fantastic exchange with Reverend Cornwell and other church members, talking about how churches can (and should) be welcoming and safe spaces LGBGTIQ+ people.

At the end of our visit, Reverend Cornwell read out the below message, ‘On speaking queerly in public’.

Every time the word “gay” rolls off my tongue. when the words “queer” or “intersex” or “‘trans” or “nonbinary” or “bisexual” bless my lips…no matter what I’m talking about, I am also, always, sending a love letter, casting a lifeline, praying a prayer, and yes, obviously, waving a flag.

So many generations of silence and slurs, of words of violence and of quiet, lonely does-anyone-else-in-the-world-feel-this-way? My heart could burst every time I speak the imperfect but earnest attempts at finding ways to communicate lineages of “us.” Every word, a reaching toward each other. A “you’re not alone” or a “we got each other” and a “isn’t it divine, being this way?”

It’s never too early to start teaching this love language and planting these seeds of assurance…Train a child up in the way they should go, says the scriptures. And I want them all to go queerly, go freely, go in belonging.

I want us to raise a whole generation of kids who never learn to hate themselves. Or to treat others like monsters. Or that there’s anyone even god is against.

M Barclay

This is indeed part of my queer agenda: To expose children as early as possible to all the possibilities of their beautiful becoming. To leave no doubt that whichever way their love blossoms and their gender blooms and their body unfurls, they will be protected, cherished, celebrated, loved.

In the world as it is, to even begin to balance out all the messages otherwise, these things cannot be said enough. So we say them in every form they take across languages and cultures. We say them as early and as often as we can. We say them, especially, when they’re not welcome. We say them with all the love we’ve got and we will never, never stop.

M Barclay, enfleshed

I am visiting the United States on an International Visitor Leadership Program: Advancing Minority Rights. The programme is organised by the US State Department, with thanks to the US Embassy in Malta.