Friday, 23 November 2007

A lesbian asks, "Ain't I human?"

In November 2003, V. Gene Robinson was consecrated bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, having been elected by church members to serve as their spiritual leader. The election left the worldwide Anglican Communion divided over the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop; in the U.S. four dioceses have begun the process of leaving the national church.

The question has been four-square in the news. Members of many faiths, often facing their own questions about gay clergy, are carefully watching the issue in the Episcopal Church.

As a lifelong member of the Episcopal Church who is gay, and a postulant for ordination to the priesthood, I was struck by Sojourner Truth's call for justice. She has inspired my perspective on efforts to diminish others.

"Ain't I a woman?"

More than 150 years ago, Truth put that question to the Women's Convention meeting in Akron, Ohio. It was 54 years after she was born; the Emancipation Proclamation was still more than a decade away. It was 69 years before women's suffrage that she would not live to see. In her powerful voice, she was confronting other women about her right to belong - her right to be accepted in the fullness of her being.

"I have borne 13 children and seen most of them sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief none but Jesus heard me. Ain't I a woman?

"Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman!'"

Her lament about her status echoes on - no, it thunders on to this day.

Ain't I a human? Read more
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