I identify as heterosexual, and I am honored and proud and humbled to carry the rainbow flag from its safe place in the church vestibule to its more bold and prominent place outside. This is something that we do every Sunday morning before church, and lately I’ve started doing it at other times when I’m working at the Fellowship. There are hours during the week when I’m the only one in the building, but flying the rainbow flag is like proclaiming that the Fellowship is open for business—the business of radical inclusion, the business of welcoming everyone with love and fighting for justice.
I’m keenly aware of the irony in my carrying the flag: as a member of the privileged group (heterosexuals), I’m making a statement for the rights and dignity of those who are oppressed (anyone who identifies as homosexual, bisexual, pansexual or asexual). When I’m in the privileged group, I can’t pretend that I know what the experience of the oppressed group is. Nor should I presume to know how to fight for their rights—if I want to be an ally in someone else’s struggle, I need to follow their lead and listen more than I speak.
I happen to be a person with many privileged identities, and my intention is always to be aware of my privilege and to use my power and my voice to dismantle oppressive systems and create loving community. As a straight person, I strive for gay rights; as a cisgender person, I promote transgender equality; as a man, I call for women’s rights; as a person who has been socialized into an identity of whiteness, I denounce white supremacy; as an able-bodied person, I advocate for people with disabilities; as a person with money, I say we need to fix a broken economic system that punishes people without money; and as a highly educated person, I believe we need to address our prejudice against people with less formal education.
Believe it or not, I think about all of these things when I carry the rainbow flag from the vestibule, down the sidewalk, to the Fellowship’s front steps. I’m fiercely glad to be part of religion that believes in justice for all. Proclaiming our beliefs through these symbolic banners makes us a magnet for like-minded people and a target for people who disagree. May we always be ready to declare ourselves on the side of loving multi-cultural community, and against oppression in any form.
May I always see myself in other people, seeing beyond difference to the common humanity within. May I know that our destiny is linked: your freedom is my freedom; your oppression is my oppression; your suffering is my suffering. And may love remove the barriers between us, so that together we can build the beloved community we seek.
Yours in faith and service,
Andrew (Drew) Frantz
September 25, 2019