There used to be magic to the holidays. I couldn’t sleep on Christmas Eve, thinking of all the fun to be had the very next day. But the holidays changed for me when I came out. Now, it can be somewhat of an awkward time for people like me — a bisexual Christian.
Underneath the holiday's superficial consumerism, there's the religious message that proclaims only one man and one woman may kiss under the mistletoe. That if I were to kiss the man I love under the same mistletoe, it would be seen as an act of act of defiance to the “sanctity of marriage.” Then there’s the reminder that this is the time of year to spend with family. Luckily, I have a family to go home to. But not everyone from the LGBT community does. Too many have been shunned because of their sexual or gender identities. Others are still constrained by the chains of the closet, unable to be truly festive with those they love.
For someone like me, an proud bisexual man, I have to maneuver the social minefield around extended family avoiding the rainbow elephant in the room. Yes, ’tis the season to be reminded that I’m still only an outsider. This reminder is only echoed by my church.
Churches, which are intended to be sanctuaries, bring me anxiety — even as a person of faith. I know that if I were to bring a man I loved, I would, at best, be glared at and whispered about—at worst, asked to leave. Yet as a queer person of faith, the holidays aren’t all bad news. The lack of welcoming spaces in the families of LGBT people and in our churches is a reminder of the biblical story Christmas commemorates.
Mary and Joseph were outsiders. For being with child before they wed, they were looked down upon, judged, and shamed as being immoral. On the eve of the birth of the son of God, weary from travel, they had doors closed in their faces, on the excuse that “there is no room for you here.” Whether the Inn was really full, or whether it was because this young girl was pregnant, we don’t know for certain. What we do know is that they had to make their own space in the lowliest of places. Yet even being in a stable, God blessed them. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Can it be the LGBT community is blessed despite our marginalization? Maybe even because of it? It’s hard to entertain that idea when such a high percentage of the youth homelessness population is LGBT. A large chunk of them are homeless due to abandonment of religious families. They too have had doors closed in their faces. Yes, that idea can be something hard to imagine.
But blessings can come from strange places. The things we’ve won have been hard earned. Our community is resilient. Many of us who have severed familial ties have made community in the loneliest of places — we’ve made community in the stable.
We’ve found community in the place Christ was born. Jesus was born on the fringes of his society, shunned and continued to live His life with those who were outcasts. Until the day He was crucified He ate, laughed, and lived with those on the margins. Jesus Christ, the Christmas miracle, belongs to all of us who have been told “there’s no room for you here.” Jesus belongs to the LGBT community. The people who shut the doors are not only shutting the doors on us but also on Jesus.
Many doors will be slammed in our faces and many of us will be outcasts in our own families. But God makes all things good. When we find the blessing of inclusive community, whether through reconciliation with blood family or in our chosen families, we are in fellowship with Jesus. Every time we go through tribulations our stories reflect the Christmas story. When we invite others who have been shunned into the stable, we are doing holy work. Now that’s magic. No matter what hardships I encounter I can take solace in the fact Jesus is in the stable with us.