This year, at the Presbyterian General Assembly, LGBTQ people & allies of the upcoming generation will claim their birthright at members of a just & inclusive church.

27 June 2008

Out of Place - my experience at the OnebyOne luncheon

by Heather Grantham (

I had the opportunity on Tuesday to attend a luncheon sponsored by the group OnebyOne. On its website, OnebyOne claims its mission is to, “equip and educate the church to minister the transforming grace and power of the Lord Jesus Christ to those who are in conflict with their sexuality.” They believe homosexuality is a sin. They also believe gay individuals are not “gay” per se, they are just “suffering from same-sex attraction.”

Walking into the luncheon, Lisa Larges and I were accosted with hospitality. We were ushered to our seats and brought drinks and box lunches. We sat front and center at a table where we, with our rainbow stoles and pins, were obviously on a different wave-length than those seated around us. The atmosphere was awkward. On one hand, the people speaking with us were welcoming and loving. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but think that the people who appeared so loving were also damning Lisa and me into hell for not agreeing with their stance on LGBT issues. We soon stopped our conversation and turned to the podium.

Tuesday’s lunch focused on the problems of “lesbianism” and “bisexuality.” The main speaker was the Executive Director of OneByOne, Kristen Johnston. Kristen focused mainly upon the causes of “same sex attraction.” She delved deep into psychoanalysis, quoting various, unnamed studies showing that most women who self identify as lesbian or bisexual suffered sexual abuse, negative relationships with their mothers, and/or bad body image.

Negative body image and sexual assault is something the majority of women deal with. If sexual abuse and bad body image “cause lesbianism,” why aren’t there more self-identified lesbians out there!? If Kristen’s statements are true, then the majority of women you meet on the street are lesbians! However, this is not the case. OnebyOne, in their attempt to explain lesbian and bisexual individuals, is just placing smaller boxes around an already marginalized group.

I was also struck by Kristen’s statement that many lesbian and bisexual women turn to feminism because they hate men. This is a huge leap in logic and is just plain false. Feminists do not hate men. I am a self-proclaimed radical feminist whose closest friends are men and who relishes in the company of many people on various places of the gender spectrum. Kristin also stated that lesbian and bisexual women have rejected their femininity by refusing to receive. I was a little perplexed by this statement. Why does there have to be this binary of “feminine” and “masculine”, of “receiving” and “giving”, of “gay” and “straight”?

I do not want to bash OnebyOne, however I feel they are manipulating facts to serve their “mission.” I do not agree with OnebyOne’s stance on LGBTQ folk, but I do know they feel strongly that they are being led by God. All the individuals I met at the luncheon were wonderful people, and I could see us agreeing on many issues. But the fact that they want me to deny who I am and who God calls me to be, severs the possibility of a positive, life-affirming relationship. Because each one of us is a child of God’s and is called into community, I feel it is important to dialogue with OnebyOne. It is important to talk to those with whom we disagree in order to grow wiser in the Spirit of God. Perhaps down the road, OnebyOne and That All May Freely Serve can just agree to disagree and stop trying to change each other. But until that day, let’s discuss the things we can agree on - like sexuality being a gift from God.

1 comment:

Heather W. Reichgott said...

Brilliant. That comment "therefore we should all be lesbians" is right on the money. On behalf of someone with little patience for such lunches, thanks to you and Lisa for being such a kind and powerful witness. xo