I watched the process of solving problem by the conference committee and felt that there was no safe space for me.
One of the solutions was to have several lectures about LGBT people by some professors and a famous Japanese gay pastor. They gave lectures. The local church members gathered. It seemed that no one thought there was actually gay Christian in the conversation except my colleagues who knew my sexuality.
At one of the lecture, I presided the discussion pretending heterosexual young single woman. It was one of the most hurtful experiences in my life.
The more hurtful experience was to be yelled by young male pastor when we had an unofficial discussion about the LGBT issue at a retreat. He was a bit older than me. There were the other older clergy and lay people in the conversation. I was the youngest.
I said my opinion honestly which was opposite to the elders, I mean, opposite to everyone there. Suddenly the pastor fiercely yelled at me.
"What do you know about it!!! Do you understand my pain? I was bullied as a pastor's son."
We were discussing issue concerning our conference member's discriminative speech against LGBT. And he started talking about his experience of bullying as a pastor's son. I was confused. I couldn't understand why he was yelling me.
He had remembered my opinion at the lecture, which had held a couple years ago. At the lecture, because he questioned about the difference between bullying to pastor's son and LGBT discrimination, I responded by using comparison of physical surgery. I said that LGBT discrimination is like serious operation that needed structural change and the bullying is also surgery but it is like little toe's one.
I apologized him that I shouldn't have used that comparison indeed. I was too young to have enough vocabulary to explain it. But I didn't change my opinion. He stopped yelling and kept giving me a fierce look. I was horrified. Then the other older people started blaming to me.
"I agree with the pastor. What do you know about it at your age? You are disrespectful."
I was about to crying. No one assumed I was one of the LGBT people. Everyone expressed sympathy to the male pastor's bullying experience.
No one said anything about LGBT discrimination at all. I didn't hear any thoughtful opinion in order to solve the LGBT issue.
After they left, I cried alone and called my friend.
I cried alone at the corner of the hallway until midnight.
At the same time, they had a casual meeting with the chair pastor of a conference committee at someone's room. In Japan, casual meeting means drinking alcohol and often smoking a lot because they can talk frankly without paying attention age difference if they are drunk. They were together. I was completely alone.
I don't like being drunk and don't smoke anyway...
Next morning, I met the chair pastor by chance and said that it was really scary when the young male pastor yelled at me. I expected that he understood it was like power harassment because he was the chair of the social justice and sexual harassment issue committee.
But his answer was
"Oh, he regretted it when we were drinking last night."
That was the solution.
Because of these experiences (I have more), I decided not to come out at least to the people belonging to this conference.
After I came to the United States, I read newsletter of the conference and found the official statement about LGBT discrimination issue.
In the statement, they explained what and when the incident happened but the persons who did discriminative speech were hidden for their privacy. Basically it was an apologetic letter. They apologized, apologized, and apologized. They also explained how many lectures they had. The number of lectures was their excuse.
Does the apologizing change the situation?
Does the excuse heal the serious wound?
Does the statement dare to do justice for LGBT?
Regret, apology, and excuse change nothing.
Justice and love changes.
Regret, apology, and excuse are neither love nor justice.
If the one sincerely regrets, change should be happened.
Change requires intensive education and people's openness, willingness, and conscience.
In particular, knowing power structure by gender, age, class, and social states is primarily important in Japan. This country is still very male-dominated society and Christian church as well. Dealing with boundary issue and anger issue is needed. There is no reason the older person can yell at the younger. Studying relevant knowledge about harassment is required.
After that, it is possible to understand LGBT issue finally.
Regret + Apology + Excuse = Political Performance
Japanese prime minister often says, "It is regrettable..."
Education: Learning power structure, boundary and anger issue, and harassment will be able to change person's mind and then attitude.
Action will be followed and social structure and community will change.
That is justice and love. I think.
I am willing to offer this kind of Christian education to the church in Japan. It is possible as long as everyone is able to act like that the children take on a challenge to ride a bicycle.
|Pedro Ribeiro Simoes (creative commons)|