How to Talk with Others about A Queer Calling

We have been blown away by the response our blog has been generating. It is truly humbling to check our daily stats. We have had readers joining us from all over the globe! So many people have shared links to our posts. We’re profoundly grateful to everyone who has encouraged another person to read our blog. Because you have shared and discussed our blog with others, you’re helping us tell our story. We appreciate it.

Conversations about members of the LGBT community frequently involve some discussion of how we use language. In this post, we’d like to talk about the language we use to tell our story in order to help you, our readers, better represent us to others. On all of our accounts, we’ve taken to describing ourselves as a celibate, LGBT, Christian couple or simply as Sarah and Lindsey. Since every post needs some degree of organization, we’ll take those characterizations in turn and explain why we use this language.

We are celibate. As we have shared many times, we have both felt a vocation to celibacy since before we met each other. We have spent considerable time trying to discern actively what celibacy means. Because we’re celibate, some people have described us as a “Side B” couple. We used to describe ourselves as such, mainly because Side B resources are sometimes the only places where any LGBT person who feels called to celibacy, single or partnered, can find support for living this way of life. The language of Side A and Side B has been around for many years as people asked whether same-sex relationships were morally equivalent to opposite-sex relationships. An organization called Bridges Across the Divide developed the language of “Side A” and “Side B” in an effort to create a more neutral terminology for some very contentious conversations. The Gay Christian Network also uses Side A and Side B to describe two positions on the Great Debate as to whether or not God blesses same-sex relationships (or interpreted in another way, whether or not God blesses sexually active same-sex relationships). As we indicate on our About page, we do not use the language of Side A or Side B to describe ourselves or our sexual ethics on our blog. Though we have previously participated in discussions using this language in other places on the Internet and we do have convictions regarding sexual morality for LGBT people, we believe that this terminology is limited, especially when it comes to the experiences of transgender and genderqueer individuals. Too often, the Side B position can be presented as an obsession with drawing lines to define sex or as a theological mandate to force LGBT people to be celibate. Similarly, the Side A position can often be presented as the “socially just” response to LGBT people while assuming that every person in favor of greater legal protections for LGBT people is also interested in reforming various Christian theologies of marriage to accommodate gay marriage. We find little in the Side A and Side B discourse that accurately describes our relationship as a celibate, LGBT, Christian couple, so we no longer use the language of Side A and Side B and have never referred to ourselves using this language on our blog.

We are LGBT people with a queer calling. As people have been sharing our blog, we’ve noticed that they tend to use gendered language to describe us. We’ve frequently been presented by others as a lesbian couple, two women, a same-sex couple, or even two girls. However, we consider using people’s own language to be the first rule of respect when it comes to talking about gender. For example, Lindsey has never used the word lesbian as a descriptor of choice while Sarah happens to be comfortable with the word lesbian and sometimes uses it and also the word gay in personal reflections. The fact that one of us is comfortable with the word lesbian does not automatically make us a lesbian couple. Additionally, we do not use pronouns for one another as we write. Occasionally, we might use pronouns to describe other people. We raise the issue of gendering language because our society has a way of automatically gendering everyone (and sometimes everything). For transgender and genderqueer individuals, the tendency to gender automatically can lead to dysphoria-inducing experiences of being misgendered. When writing together, we use the language of LGBT and queer because it is the terminology with which we are most comfortable, mutually.

We also identify ourselves as Christian. There are myriad Christian traditions, but thus far, we have not definitively identified ourselves on our blog as belonging to one particular Christian tradition. We have decided that we would like A Queer Calling to support people from a range of Christian traditions who are exploring celibacy. Many people have assumed that we must be Catholic because we make regular mention to the Roman Catholic Church and use other terms that many may perceive as Catholic. We tend to cite teachings of the Roman Catholic Church with some frequency because the Roman Catholic tradition of monks, friars, and nuns has produced a wealth of material about different kinds of celibate vocations.

Of course, you always have the option of using our names when you are talking about us. Using a person’s name can be a great way to show respect and regard. We feel especially blessed that so many commenters have chosen to comment using their names. Please feel free to ask us additional questions in the comments!

Comment Policy: Please remember that we, and all others commenting on this blog, are people. Practice kindness. Practice generosity. Practice asking questions. Practice showing love. Practice being human. If your comment is rude, it will be deleted. If you are constantly negative, argumentative, or bullish, you will not be able to comment anymore. We are the sole moderators of the combox.