The Wrong Kind of Authentic

Authenticity. Be  your authentic self. Transparent. Forthright. What you see is what you get. YOLO. This is me. You do you.

Or do you?

These buzz words, slang and phrases have a lot in common. Each one encourages people to be true to themselves, to own their uniqueness and how that plays out in their day to day interactions with others. It places the responsibility of positive or negative reactions outside of one’s self. If people have a problem with it, they are bigoted, hateful, racist, some-kind-of-phobic etc.

These words are used by various communities.

Church culture encourages authenticity. Messages, Christian Living books, podcasts and hit songs talk about the need for grace in imperfection. Followers are encouraged not to hide their struggles, they are told to be vulnerable, available and real.

LGBTQ culture celebrates the authentic self. Members of the community are encouraged to dress and participate in life as they identify and are most comfortable. Regardless of assigned gender and romantic inclinations (or lack there of)–embracing one’s unique mixture of gender and sexuality is to embrace one’s authenticity. In doing so, one walks bravely with their head held high.

Both communities use the same words to convey different thing. Many of us know what happens when someone is transparent about their sexuality or gender expression in a conservative Christian context.

What about when your authentic LGBTQ+ self also has faith?

Suddenly, your truth creates a road block for the members of a community that shouts everyone is welcome. Is everyone really welcome? If someone believes in a God that a group of people were taught (falsely) hates them—that person creates a disconnect. It makes people uncomfortable.

Soon there’s nowhere to fit.

Sarcastic comments and snide remarks on one side and turn or burn doctrine on the other.

Both communities self-identify as a place for all. A place of love. Yet neither loves the other.

I walk in the middle, trying desperately to get each side to remember we are all humans trying our best. I feel like sitting down sometimes. How about you?

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