The account below, first published by by Robin Williams, on her site, Green Fern Coven, provides an example of how one can make a difference in the workplace and society despite relatively limited power or influence, especially, by reaching out to others. It also shows that resistance and reform can and, perhaps, must, occur from within and without, to change institutions. Whilst the wider impact of one’s activism might be hard to measure and may feel small or insignificant, the sense of promoting one’s personal values can be greatly empowering and meaningful and, ultimately, essential for healthy wellbeing and development.
I Work for a Church – But I’m a Queer Artist
Yes, you read the title correctly. I’m queer and work for a church. I’m well aware that there are some beautiful churches out there that do support and love us lgbt+ but the church I work for and grew up in, is not one of them. So then why do I work for them?
The short answer is: I have horrible social anxiety. I got my first job when I was nineteen years old, working as a social media coordinator, and it’s been a blessing. I rarely have to worry about people, only have to answer the phone if my co-worker is off or out, and I have the freedom to channel my inner creative to share with the world.
The long answer: I believe in changing the environment I grew up in.
I am not out to the congregation of my church. I’m not out to my pastor. Only my family is aware and I’m currently okay with that. But I still want to integrate my beliefs into my church, and as the social media coordinator, I can.
During Pride month, my first thing to post if I could, would be the Pride flag telling the community that love is love and all are welcome here. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. So instead I pulled verses from the Bible that spoke about love and kindness, and I pasted those words onto solid colour backgrounds. Each coloured background was in the order and shade of the Pride flag and has been scheduled to post through the entire month of June.
It’s no bold act, it’s subtle, but it’s enough for me to feel like I’ve done something. The church doesn’t realize that their social media posts line up as the flag. They don’t know that each week when I make them a playlist of Christian songs, I go out of my way to find an artist who supports the lgbt+, who may even be part of the community themselves. They don’t know that their prayer card readings are formatted the same way my Tarot card pulls are.
And they don’t have to. Anyone looking will know. Anyone who cares enough will know. And if they want to reach out, by reading the list of staff in our office, they’ll see my name and next to that bold text, the words Alphabet Mafia.
And they’ll know that I am their safe space, here, in a place where they will be condemned by the people they grew up around. I work for this church because I know that there is someone else just like me, trying to find comfort and love in the place that preaches it, but doesn’t practice it.
by Robin Williams, Green Fern Coven, June 28 2001.