Guest Opinion: MCC appears to be MIA

  • by Adam Allen
  • Wednesday February 15, 2023
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The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was founded in 1968. Photo: Courtesy UFMCC
The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was founded in 1968. Photo: Courtesy UFMCC

My name is Adam Allen. I came out the first time as a lesbian when I was 19, and transitioned in my 20s. In the 1990s when I was first coming up, the fight for non-discrimination laws and marriage equality was front and center. AIDS was still a death sentence, and being gay was illegal in a lot of states.

And Metropolitan Community Churches were visible everywhere. For those who don't know, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches was founded in 1968 by a gay man, the Reverend Troy Perry. (Perry retired in 2005.) It's the only Christian denomination by and for the LGBTQ+ community. Back then, you couldn't turn on the TV news without seeing them. There was the annual mass wedding to call attention to the legal inequality of our relationships. They marched just about everywhere, and Perry knew to bring the media along whenever they protested against far-right bigots who wanted to dehumanize and murder us. At one time there were two thriving MCC congregations in San Francisco. Today, there is one, MCC-SF, which recently announced its pastor has retired. (See related story.)

Now, in 2023, trans and gender-diverse people are being dehumanized and killed in the largest numbers ever. According to a November 2022 analysis by NPR, at least 306 bills targeting trans people were introduced in state legislatures, and 15% of those became law. As I type this, North Dakota is debating seven anti-trans bills. One of them legalizes conversion therapy, and another bans trans people from using unisex bathrooms. (As an aside, I run the "Gender Identity and Faith" Facebook page. Friends and I started it to counteract an anti-LGBTQ book of the same title that promotes conversion therapy. We are accepting stories from people about their gender identity and faith issues.)

And is anyone from a local MCC church there speaking out against this? No. In fact, I haven't seen an MCC pastor at any of these legislative debates. Not like with marriage equality or non-discrimination law. They were all in there. Those things were important.

Now, this is a problem with all of the left, liberal, so-called open and affirming denominations. They're all sitting on their hands, shaking their heads and talking about how sad it is that trans and gender-diverse people are going through this. But MCC is our church. They're supposed to be caring about what happens to all of us. Not just taking their ball and going home because they got what they wanted.

You might be tempted to disagree about this, and bring up the fact that the MCC denomination ordains trans and gender-diverse people. How nice for it. But now that straight denominations are doing it too, it's become a bare minimum. And ordination is a very narrow niche thing. Opening their doors to care for trans and gender-diverse homeless people, or families with trans youth fleeing hostile states would have a larger impact.

MCC has been involved in overseas work, and credited with saving LGBTQ lives. But in that respect it's also acting like straight churches — focusing on overseas missions while their communities in America are floundering. Our cousins in other countries should not be abandoned. But I'm pretty sure the MCC denomination can do two things at once.

The MCC denomination learned gifts that it could be sharing with trans and gender-diverse communities, such as what to do when no one will release a body to you because "you're not family," or mourning when someone's biological family shuts you out, dishonors them in death, and denies anyone who loves them a chance to say goodbye. MCC could be paying for the funerals of trans folks. The blog PGH Lesbian Correspondents out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania recently wrote an amazing article about the economic costs of burying trans victims of violence. And MCC could be putting itself in between us and the people who want us dead. Seeing church members physically could be so important.

Maybe I'm the only person who feels like this. Maybe it's because I'm a transgender Christian whose life was saved knowing MCC existed when I was younger. Perhaps no one else feels the denomination's absence.

Silence still equals death. Silence is still complicity. #whereismcc?

Adam Allen is a trans man, Christian, and activist who lives on the West Coast. He loves to read, enjoys learning about new things, and is currently working on a project seeking positive stories about gender identity and faith. You can find the Gender Identity and Faith Facebook page here.

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