Who’s That Swirl?

What would Jesus do? A church in Kentucky has banned interracial couples from worshipping together. I say the Bluegrass State has it wrong. What say you?

“I think they’re talking about us,” she whispered, tilting her head toward a small group of people who were sharing a table at the restaurant in which we were dining. I wasn’t surprised. We were a far from our ultra-liberal neighborhood, and we were two women holding hands.

She continued.

“Racists. We’re an interracial couple, not freaks.”

You see, the woman with whom I was doing the hand holding was Hispanic by way of Mexico, and I was Caucasian by way of Scotland–still am. But this was the first time I had ever thought about it. We had nearly the same color skin, and neither of us were particularly steeped in our cultures. In fact, both of our ancestors had been in the U.S. for several generations.

I explained to her that our gayness was probably more off-putting to people than our supposed ethnic differences. But I couldn’t get it out of my head–because she wouldn’t let me. After that day, she frequently brought up our ethnic differences.

“That’s because you’re Caucasian,” she would say when I’d tell her about something nice that someone had done for me, “My people aren’t treated as well.”

“It’s because I’m Mexican,” she’d say when she got yet another rejection letter from a publishing company.

So, I’d talk to her about how I thought the world would be a better place if people weren’t so focused on their differences and instead concentrated on their shared experiences. She would cry and stomp out of the room, slamming the door behind her after telling me that I didn’t respect her culture, saying I was trying to “whitewash” her.

But I wasn’t! Or, I don’t think I was.

She decided we needed group therapy for interracial couples, and I agreed to go because we were having sex and I wanted that to continue. Plus, I cared about her and was willing to try to see things from her point of view.

We walked in to the local LGBT center and all eyes fell upon us: we looked like we could be sisters. I listened as women and men in interracial relationships told of being discriminated against, sometimes by their own families. It was hard enough being queer, but now their parents didn’t want them dating, the other parents at their children’s schools gave them the side-eye, or their straight friends wondered why they chose to make their lives even more difficult by choosing someone who looked so different from them.

After the first session, I was sure she’d get it and move on. Instead, she really identified. She was so excited that we had found our people.

— ∮∮∮ —

A church in Kentucky has decided to vote on whether or not to allow interracial couples to become members and participate in worship activities. The finally tally was 9-6 that they be prohibited from doing those things.

According to the Huffington Post, the holy hoopla all started when 24-year-old Stella Harville and her 29-year-old fiance, Ticha Chikuni, a native of Zimbabwe, visited Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church where her father is the secretary. Stella and Ticha sang a song for the congregation, after which Stella’s father was told by the pastor (who has since been replaced) that his daughter and her fiance would not be permitted to perform again. That pastor also wanted to go on record as saying that his church did not condone interracial marriage.

While I’d like to dismiss this as the racist ramblings of one man who seems not at all interested in the words of the book on which his church was founded, the decision was voted upon. Naturally, local people are embarrassed by the pastor’s actions and the attention that they are receiving because of this story, but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? As far as we’ve come in this country, there’s still much progress to be made.

John 13:34 reads “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It really seems like Jesus would have been okay with interracial relationships.

My interracial sweetheart and I split up not long after our stint in group therapy. Not necessarily because we didn’t see eye to eye on this issue*, but it didn’t help. That relationship didn’t teach me to see people differently, but to be a bit more patient with how people see themselves.

As for the people at Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church, I’ll bet they are getting a lesson in tolerance from people all over the world right about now. Which is good, because we could all use a little enlightenment.

* As she left, she yelled something about me having a Jesus complex and always being on the cross. I yelled something about her maybe now finally getting a damn job because she wouldn’t have someone to support her.

— ∮∮∮ —

Editor’s Note

Photo by: Lori L. Stalteri

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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