Day 25: A Gayer Cup

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

-Luke 2:19

Amid all the celebration, Luke highlights Mary’s deliberate withdrawal from emotional exuberance. Perhaps she is an internal processor. Perhaps, as a woman who freshly pushed a baby from her body, she’s exhausted. Or perhaps she is mindful of the patriarchy that surrounds her as men surround her son. Perhaps she holds back because she knows that even though the baby before her is a salvation, she is not yet saved.

The World Cup gave us a fairy tale ending to one storyline, but there is another that feels vacuous and unsettled. Another men’s World Cup has passed without a single out, gay player (or coach). In spite of the solidarity armbands of Western Europe, the sport remains stunningly heterosexual. The queer fans and players return home to treasure these things in their hearts, holding back the fullness of their families and their joy. 

My one hope, if France had won back-to-back World Cups, was that a world-class player from a country that embraces sexual liberation with two World Cups under his belt might have the confidence–and the reputational buffer–to come out. My best case scenario was a French athlete publicly identifying as queer in the afterglow of all that awe. 

It might have been a pipe dream all along. I don’t actually know if any of the French players identify as queer. But I know in my heart that there are players and staff and ref who are treasuring these things in theirs because they are afraid to be fully themselves in public. Because all the institution has ever done is punish them.

My wish for the 2026 World Cup is that there is less pondering in hearts. More gayness on and off the field. More celebration. I hope that North America 2026 is the gayest men’s World Cup ever–which is to say, I hope there are at least two queer athletes. Or coaches. Or refs. Hell, I’d settle for Gianni Infantino coming out. And being celebrated for it.

In 2026, I hope that those who treasure all of this in their hearts do so because they want to, not because they feel they must.

An intersectional pride flag, with the horizontal rainbow rows punctuated triangles of black, brown, blue, pink, and white, to represent BIPOC and trans communities.
Pride flags are great, but creating cultures of inclusion and affirmation is even better.

Day 9: When All Evidence is Hidden

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

Luke 1:39-40

If you have never read the conception of Jesus as a queer story, it’s probably because Mary seems straight–and straightness was always enough for you. But there are ways to read queerness in the annunciation story, and queer people do. Mary’s immaculate conception draws parallels for lesbian couples using artificial insemination. Mary’s run to Elizabeth can be read as a lesbian love scene. The angel Gabriel can be read as a genderfluid or intersex messenger. 

You could argue this is poor biblical interpretation, since there’s no evidence of queerness in the Advent stories. But the lack of evidence is precisely why we read these stories as queer stories: all evidence of queer love has been erased from the Bible (with the possible exception of David and Jonathan). Most likely Mary and Elizabeth were not lesbian lovers, but if Mary stopped to visit her lesbian lover on her way to Elizabeth, she would have “held these things in her heart,” as she did throughout these events. We read queerness back into the heterosexist stories we received because we are confident that God loves queer people and that their presence in the narrative is critical to our collective salvation. 

Amidst all the criticism of Qatar’s treatment LGBTQ+ people, not much has been made of the fact that are no openly gay players among the 830 or so footballers competing in the tournament. Compare that to 38 out players in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. We can recognize the reasons why male athletes may have a greater pull to conceal their sexual orientation. But we cannot, in good faith, believe that there are no gay players in the tournament in Qatar. Instead, it appears that all evidence of gay players has been erased. 

In moments–touches between players on the sidelines, the occasional gesture during a goal celebration–I imagine certain players are gay. But I cannot say for sure; instead, I read queerness where I can in the World Cup. FIFA locating the World Cup in Qatar signals to these men that they must continue to uphold traditional masculinity. They must continue to hide all evidence. Even straight players in solidarity are forced to hide evidence of allyship

Yesterday, the US Men’s Team posted several photos of brokenhearted players embracing their girlfriends. Their sorrow was public and sympathetic only in the context of heterosexuality. What would it take for a gay player to come out, even on the national team of a country that is in the process of enshrining gay rights into law? 

Perhaps, if we are lucky and if we create a safe world, the week after the tournament one or two players (most likely on the championship team) will come out. Perhaps, a generation from now, we will still be reading queer fictions into this tournament because the evidence remains hidden. If so, that would be a sin against the God who created and called each of these players.

Did we get gay-er?: What the Lancaster and Western District Ideologies Mean for the Rest of Us

It certainly appears that the church’s extremes got more extreme this weekend, as it concerns LGBTQ participation. I don’t think this is the case, though–no one has gotten more extreme, they’ve just finally shaken off the paralysis of conflict and are becoming courageous enough to be who they wish to be. Lancaster Conference is making good on their threat to leave the denomination, while Western District Conference has agreed not to punish credentialed leaders who preside at same-sex ceremonies, as long as they have congregational approval.

Have we really become more polarized since Kansas City? Doubtful. How much do these two decisions change things? Continue reading