This past Sunday was a milestone for Denver Community Church, where elders recently voted unanimously for full inclusion of LGBT people. They had prayed over the role gays, lesbians, and transgender folks should play in the church, and they sought help from a trans pastor, the Rev. Paula Williams. She spoke with us recently about that experience.
Williams gave her first sermon at DCC this past weekend. Part of it was about how she'd recently reconnected with her parents.
"My mother had an agenda. She's 91. She was going to make sure I knew that I had been born her son. She was there, you know! And she was going to make sure that she only called me Paul, and that she only referred to me in male pronouns. But I had been there about a half hour, and she just couldn't keep up with her agenda. Dad was in the kitchen, and we were admiring some things I've always admired of hers. Some cups and saucers.
"And so she said to my father, she said, 'Well Dave, she wants to take one of the cups and saucers with her, so I told her to pick out whichever one she wants to pick out. And that she can take it with her now.' And I was like, 'Oh that's so sweet. She's correctly gendering me! She had this agenda, but she just couldn't stick with it because she was enjoying this woman who had come to visit with her. I spent a delightful day with them. I took pictures! Pictures of me with my father, pictures of me with my mother. It was a day that I'll treasure forever.
"Dad is 93, mom is 91. When it was time to go, dad came over and very seriously hugged me. And he said, you know, I can't call you my daughter. And I said, 'Well dad, of course you can't. You raised a son, it's OK.' He said, 'I can call you Paula though. Because I don't have to understand this, I just have to choose to love you.'
"We are a fragmented nation. Polarized to extremes. We can't escape it in the news. Everywhere we turn, people are at one extreme or the other. How do we unite? There's only one way. If people find the courage to say the same thing my father said. If we find the courage to say, 'You know, I don't have to understand this. I just have to choose to love you. And if we can say that, we can heal this nation. We can bring unity."