|Kathleen (Kathy) B. Stayton with husband, Bill|
As a straight grandmother married to the same man for forty-five years, with four straight married children, and three grandsons whose sexual orientation is not yet evident, I am honored to be a part of Soulforce. Why? Because my heart is wounded every time a homosexual friend reveals to me the pain she/he experiences when family rejects them; because my heart burns when the church that nurtured their faith as young people now denies them access to congregational life if they are ‘out’; because my heart cries in shame that we heterosexual people, especially people of faith, insist that gay and lesbian people must lie, deny their being and engage in deceit to remain safe; because my heart breaks when religious people speak offensively and untruthfully in fear-producing speech about homosexuals, creating a climate of fear and distrust in our nation; because God calls me to do justice as lovingly as possible. I cannot be silent.
As my formative years were in the arms of a Society of Friends (Quaker) congregation, I am philosophically in line with Soulforce to resist untruth and unjust speech and action in a nonviolent way. Now, as a member of a thriving Welcoming and Affirming American Baptist Church, my justice path is supported by a church family of straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people of faith. I experience the enrichment that diversity within the human family and church family offers.
People in our midst who demonstrate a courageous faith in God in spite of the barrage of words that are designed to make others fear them are inspiring my own faith. Unlike most of us in the straight majority, the gay’s and lesbian’s faith has been tested through fire. My experience with couples who live in supportive love and commitment reinforces my knowledge that such love is of God and that sexual orientation has no bearing on that love. As a gay-ally activist in my community, I know that misleading and wrong information must be addressed and that I must be open to learning about others’ fears. My vision of a reconciling community is always before me, and Soulforce shares that vision.