Sunday, July 26, 2015
Cute Clothes, Comfort Zones and Jesus
I’ve been asked to serve as a fashion consultant this week and I am excited. I was approached by someone at my church to assist in something called a ‘Glam Closet’ and you know I was intrigued. It is for the Trans Pride celebration in Orange County. I’m as surprised as you are as this is something far, far outside my comfort zone. But I am reminded those who don’t leave their comfort zones, never grow and I am all about growth, y’all.
I never knew a transgendered person before I moved to Long Beach back in February. I have long held a particular grudge against this part of the LGBT continuum as I blamed them for making society think all gays are weird. Drag Queens and those people who dress in leather were bad enough but those were costumes, not day-to-day reality. I’m just trying to be honest.
I have never been outwardly rude to anyone and I have mentioned this opinion to very few, but deep in my heart of hearts I was not supportive and didn’t want to talk about it. Transgendered people, I simply did not get as I have never had any issues with my gender identity. But it isn’t my job to get it.
I wanted society to let me be me even if they didn’t understand it but hypocritically I never offered this same understanding to the transgendered community. Prior to meeting the young man at church, my only information about this population was via Chaz Bono and I pitied him as I assumed the root of his identity crisis was mainly Cher was his mother. I adore her as an entertainer; I don’t know if I would want her as a parent.
I never gave my prejudices much thought, mostly because it wasn’t required. My line of thinking was I don’t know any trans people, so who cares what I think about them.
My church family is studying a book series called “The Good and Beautiful God”. The subtitle of the series is “Putting on the Character of Christ”. I have been doing a lot of soul-searching and praying and trying to get myself more in line with the way God really is, not necessarily the way I was taught when I was growing up in the church. And I’m not picking on Southern Baptists; many denominations give us false narratives about who God is and what He cares about and how He feels about certain populations in our society. Baptists are just my frame of reference as I attended Southern Baptist churches from birth until 2009, including while I lived in Alaska, Ohio and Massachusetts. There’s Southern Baptists all up and through this nation, people.
The transgendered man at my church is a happy person, smiling, laughing and just a joy to be around. Full disclosure, I wasn’t truly aware he hadn’t always been a man when I first met him. I never really engaged with him and his wife but I also didn’t avoid them either. We’ve chatted outside church but never really had an actual in-depth conversation. Several weeks ago he asked me if I could help a friend of his who had just come out of the closet and was in need of a makeover. Makeover?! Yes, please! I am all about helping someone look their best.
One of my spiritual gifts is encouragement. I love to build someone up to ensure they feel a part of a group of which I am a member. Knowing what it’s like to always be the new person and what it’s like to feel ostracized, I always make sure I speak to those to whom no one else speaks. And while I have very specific, vocalized opinions about fashion, I would never tell someone their outfit was unacceptable. If I am asked for my input I am honest but I try to temper it with kindness. I’m not a mean person. But if someone is soliciting my opinion, well you know how much I love to share, right?
I have been paring down my wardrobe of late, shedding items I don’t wear and was looking for some place to donate them as I want to spread the wealth and Goodwill and Salvation Army have already benefitted from my significant downsizing.
Just last week, I was trying to figure out a way to put a face to a population as this is how I have learned to let go of my prejudices. I'm glad he approached me because when he told me the activities were part of the Trans Pride Event on July 30 in Orange County, I had to smile. What a happy coincidence, you might say. Coincidence is when God doesn't take credit for maneuvering us to right where we need to be. I told him I would be honored to help men and women learn how to develop their style and properly dress for their chosen gender and body shape and also learn their colors. My church is also sponsoring an outreach booth at the event. I am proud of the way we are showing God’s love in Southern California.
One thing I have learned through my spiritual journey is my opinion about a topic should have no effect on my goal of being kind to one of God’s children. I don’t have to understand the transgendered community to show them God's love. I don’t have the right to tell them what to feel or whom to love. Those things are between them and God; they’re not my business.
What is my business, you ask? To quote Jesus, the first and greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself. Period. There aren’t addendums, codicils, postscripts or caveats, y’all. It is an imperative sentence. It is a command.
Everybody needs to know God loves them and everybody needs a cute outfit.
And that’s all I’m saying for now.