I stumbled across this sign yesterday, in the window of a local police station ...
Like many other things in San Francisco, it made more of an impression than I thought. It struck me that it's a very small thing ... I little laminated sign in a window ... but it adds to lots more small things that make a big impression.
This is a city that, through hardship, has had to recognise that all people are equal, and that all need to be affirmed and included. Deeper than that, all need to be VALUED and PROTECTED. Many of our civil services, institutions and authorities now state (because the law requires them to), that they will accept LGBT people.
However, acceptance is quite passive, and implies that there's something to accept, because you wouldn't ordinarily be acceptable. You accept change, you accept hardship, you accept that occasionally you may have to put up with people you don't like. Acceptance does not say, "I value you," or "I celebrate you," or "I love you." It says, "I'm willing to put up with you."
It's an entirely different thing to recognise LGBT people, not as people who won't go away, but as valuable members of your community, with gifts and talents to bring, that are - not just welcome - but NECESSARY. To send out a message that says, "You are OUR people, we love you and we need you."
This is not about worrying about people flaunting their identity in your face, or worrying that they will appear too 'Gay' (or Bi or Trans or whatever), or that they will have questionable morals. This is not about any of that. This is about people having the freedom to be themselves without fear, about people feeling valued as valuable members of society, about people being respected members of society, about people being able to love and live, about BEING.
True inclusivity is not just acceptance. We need to go further than 'allowing' LGBT people into our communities and our churches. We need to go looking for them, we need to invite them in, we need to celebrate them, we need to use their gifts and their talents, and protect them as our own. That is inclusivity.
And, by the way, this would be the same for any institution ... I'm not picking on the Church ... merely mentioning it, because that is my context.