This week, the FDNY released a really powerful video as a part of the It Gets Better Project. I’m so thankful to have been included in this project. There are so many wonderful, caring members of the FDNY, and it’s a privilege to get to serve as one of their chaplains. For me, this job is a dream come true. But I will confess that going through the interview process, I wasn’t sure that the FDNY was really open to hiring a gay chaplain, particularly one who is married with kids. Even after I started the job, I had my fears and doubts. But here’s the thing – they were MY fears and doubts, and they weren’t grounded in reality.
The reality is that YES, I can be my full, authentic self as a chaplain for the FDNY. Twenty years ago, as a scared kid trying to figure out her sexual orientation, I never would have imagined a life full of so many blessings. I’m thankful for friends and mentors who helped me see that living in fear and hiding my authentic self limits my ability to fulfill God’s calling in my life. If I had assumed that I wouldn’t have been welcome in the FDNY, I would easily have talked myself out of applying for the job.
If I had one wish for everyone reading this – no matter who you are or what’s going on in your life – it’s that each of us can remain open to the possibility of being loved by those around us not because we conform to some expectation for who we need to be. Rather, that we open allow others to love us just as we are – as our most authentic and human selves.
To paraphrase from the FDNY’s press release, “The department’s hope in making this video is to communicate to LGBTQ youth around the world that life gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to improve quality of life for them. In the FDNY-produced video, twelve active FDNY Firefighters, Paramedics, and EMTs discuss the challenges they faced throughout their lives and the success they have found both as adults, and as members of New York’s Bravest.”
You can view the video here: http://youtu.be/LViB1zEE1TA
Please help spread the word. If we can inspire just one person to believe that life gets better, it will have been worth it. And yes, you really can be a LGBT Christian, pastor, firefighter or EMT.