Angel was 16 when I first met him at church. He came with other members of the church. It was a while before I realized he was trans. The only thing I knew was he had a cool-looking tongue ring. I found out later that my noticing his tongue ring was the thing that kept him coming to church.
As a part of his journey, he was not allowed to obtain testosterone legally and so he was getting it by other means. This is all too common among our young trans community. Fortunately, he had a supportive mother, church and friends who stood by him. He was bullied at school and his mother took him out of school and enrolled him in the Walt Whitman School in Texas, one of the few schools in the country for LGBTQA students. Angel later graduated, traveled the world and graduated from Harvard with a Master’s degree in Divinity.
I share this story because Angel’s story is a positive one, but many LGBTQA youth lives are not as positive as his. In my time as a pastor, I have heard and seen many stories which do not end as well.
Today many of our LGBTQA youth are coming out at younger ages. They are recognizing who they are, and they are in need of support and role models from the adults whom they encounter. I am amazed they are so in tune with their bodies and their sexuality as early as five years old.
I have the privilege of knowing a little boy named Jackson who has been very clear since the age of five he is a boy. He is in a loving and supportive environment, which is comprised of his two fathers and his two biological sisters. He is allowed to be fully himself at school, at home, at church and in the world — another positive story.
It saddens me that we live in a world where Angel and Jackson’s stories are the exception to the rule. Statistics show our youth continue to be bullied to the point of suicide. When is it okay to hurt someone to the point where they feel their only option is death? This speaks to the lack of support and the ignorance which still exist in our society. As I look at our country today, I am afraid for our youth. We must come together and protect each other, especially our youth. As adults, it is our responsibility to teach tolerance and stand up for what is right even if we disagree. The future of our community rests in the hands of our LGBTQA youth today. I believe it is important we empower them and not silence them.
Thankfully, Charlotte, North Carolina has resources to aid our youth. We have a wonderful youth center and several spiritual places along with others which can provide support and sanctuary. These places can offer the connections our youth need to help them understand they are loved and supported for who they have been created to be. Get in touch with these organizations to see how you can help our youth: Time Out Youth Center (timeoutyouth.org), Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (pflag.org) and/or Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte (mycharlotte.org or mccchurch.org).
info: Rev. Wanda Floyd is transitional pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Charlotte.