I decided to use the East Germany ampelmännchen for my image of stop. The red figure means stop in Germany. I remember first seeing the sign as we were doing some traveling in the former East Berlin which would be almost 5 years ago come this summer. At first I thought the images were kinda silly. But then as I repeatedly saw them throughout my week and a half stay they began to speak to me in a different way.
Germany was my first out of the country trip without my family. I think on this trip I had the ability to stop and think for myself about what was actually important to me. I remember that this was the summer before the start of my senior year in high school. I first started really realizing that I might be different than the majority of humans on this planet. I started realizing that I had this vivid attraction to women that I could no longer really ignore. While I was realizing this important piece of who I was I began to notice that my denomination’s stance on homosexuality was not very welcoming and made it so that I was a second class citizen in the church.
I began to wonder why my teenage self was so active in the church when I was still coming to terms with my sexuality. Then I wonder why now, my young adult self is still so active in the church when I’m almost constantly having to explain to people my pronouns or my gender identity. But then I think of Isaiah 43:19 “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness & streams in the wasteland.”
For me that verse makes me stop and think “why am I still involved in the UMC when it has caused me so much harm and despair?” I think for me I’m still involved in the UMC because I know my story needs to be told. And if I can just help one person reconcile their faith and sexuality then I have made all the difference in the world.