It's called the "It Gets Better" project and it's a YouTube based campaign in support of youth facing homophobic bullying, harassment and thoughts of suicide. Saturday I got this email:
Faith voices – clergy in particular – are strongly encouraged to get involved in this campaign to illustrate the love that is available to the LGBTQ teens from the affirming religious community.And so on Sunday I recorded this message -- which is still finding its way to YouTube: (stay tuned for "film at eleven!")
I’m the Reverend Susan Russell, a priest and pastor from Pasadena, California and I’m here to tell you that “It gets better.“
There are lots of voices out there right now bringing that same message and if you are a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning teen I hope you are hearing them and I hope you know that no matter how alone you might feel, you are NOT alone and there is a community that wants to support you in the tough times and celebrate with you in the good times.
And as a priest and pastor I want you to know that anybody who tells you that God condemns you is wrong.
And if anybody says to you “But the Bible says …” I want you to remember this: God gave us the Bible as a tool for us to live our lives -- not as a weapon to beat up other people – and history is full of people who were wrong about what the Bible says … using it to support slavery, to oppress women and to condemn Galileo for discovering that the earth revolved around the sun instead other way around.
And it turns out that the same people who were wrong about what the Bible said about slavery, about women’s equality and about astronomy are wrong about what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Jesus said love your neighbor – not love you neighbor unless your neighbor is gay.
Homosexuality doesn’t grieve the heart of God – homophobia does. Bullying does. Violence against any beloved child of God does.
And you are a beloved child of God. Created in God’s image exactly as God intended you to be.
God who doesn’t just want your life to get better – God wants your life to get fabulous! And I didn't always know that.
Growing up trying to figure out who I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to do wasn't easy and I didn't always get it right. But it got better. And now I'm married to a wonderful woman who is the love of my life, I am a priest and pastor in an amazing church and my life didn't just get better -- it got fabulous. And so can yours.
If you need help believing that, reach out. To the Trevor Project. To a Believe Out Loud church. To my church -- All Saints Church in Pasadena. And remember that God loves you beyond your wildest imaginings and wants you to be exactly who God created you to be.
Believe that promise. Know that God loves you and we are here for you – and grow up to be the best “you” you can be. It DOES get better! God bless!