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An Oklahoma Easter Filled with Microaggressions, Judgmentalism and, Yes, Even Hope

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An Oklahoma Easter Filled with Microaggressions, Judgmentalism and, Yes, Even Hope

Guest Post by Luke Grayson-Skinner

Over a week ago, I took my baby sister to an Easter egg hunt at the church they all go to for AWANA/youth group.

For the first time since I moved to Oklahoma, I saw the unconscious prejudice come off of many other adults. I was the only one that no one spoke to, or really even looked toward. At one point, a kid, maybe 2 or 3, started to walk toward me and almost instantly his dad looked at me, with the look I know all too well, and quickly picked up the kid and walked away.

Since I first came down to visit my family before moving, a few people automatically assumed that I’m gay. I didn’t feel the need to correct them because, well, it’s close enough, and it lets me keep some anonymity and be “normal” (whatever that even means).

The look I mentioned? It’s watching someone smile until they look at you. Then their face quickly becomes puzzled, then disgusted, judgmental and sometimes angry. It’s a look I have seen over and over and over since I first came out at 14. The look of, you’re less than, you’re automatically a threat, you’re a freak, you don’t deserve basic human rights or decency. The look I saw in my own birth parents and church when I transitioned all those years ago.

Two Different Worlds

I knew that moving from Spokane to rural Oklahoma was going to be very different culturally and politically. I wasn’t deluded into thinking that it would be even close to the same, because I know better. Even Spokane Valley is different from Spokane, and they are both different than Cheney and Airway Heights. Every town has their own unique ways.

What I didn’t expect, though, was that it’s so much like North Idaho here. It was almost like I had been teleported back to the small town I grew up in, that was overrun by Neo-Nazis, racism, homophobia, sexism, xenophobia and drugs.

I didn’t quite expect people to be so blatantly repulsed by me simply being within sight. I knew it would be rough and that’s why I made the decision to keep parts of my identity hidden from most (including extended family who didn’t know me before I became Luke).

Is Love Conditional?

These churches on nearly every corner say: “Come as you are” and “All are welcome.” But they really mean: “Come as you are … some conditions apply.” “Come as you are … unless you’re gay or have tattoos and piercings or have a mental illness or have political beliefs that aren’t far right conservative.”

Which isn’t how it is supposed to be. Come as you are regardless, period! You are welcome here unconditionally! It isn’t our place to judge. We were always meant to show love, compassion, empathy and humanity to those around us, not just the ones we agree with.

My sister had a blast and was blissfully ignorant of the looks and microaggressions thrown my way, which is good because she’s nine. She doesn’t need to know this part of the world yet, and I don’t want her to have to worry about it. She got 228 eggs full of candy and little trinket toys, she got to draw with some of the other kids with chalk and she got some one-on-one time with me.

I’m not necessarily mad about how people acted, but it’s sad. I hold on to the hope that people will get better, less judgmental and that I’ll be able to do some good here. It will be a lot of work, and it may not end up working. But I have to try. Because that’s what my Spokane church would do. I may fail, and that’s okay, I’ll figure it out as I go. As long as I don’t take the looks and words to heart. As long as I hold on to my own hope and humanity.

Luke Grayson-Skinner
Luke Grayson-Skinner
Luke Grayson-Skinner is a 20-something, disabled, queer and nonbinary trans person who has been in Spokane since 2012 and is an advocate for the LGBT and transgender communities, foster youth and those experiencing homelessness. Luke is also a slam (performance) poet and visual artist who experiments with acrylic paint, spray paint, graphite and other mediums, who created a spray paint mural at the Spokane County Fair in 2022. Luke doesn't currently know quite what faith-base they "belong in," but grew up in an Evangelical church that they left when they moved to Spokane and has attended an open and affirming UCC church off and on for the last 8 years. He will be relocating to Oklahoma next summer to be closer to his family. Luke uses they/them and he/him pronouns.

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Walter A Hesford
Walter A Hesford
1 month ago

Thank you for your courage in testifying to the human worth of all. Keep the faith.

Chuck McGlocklin
Chuck McGlocklin
1 month ago

Jesus knew who He was, told the truth, did what was right, obeyed His Father, loved and was kind to all and He was crucified for it, crucified because He would not compromise what He knew was right.
Many people that identify as “Christian” do not understand that to be a Christian is to do what Jesus did and love as Jesus loved. Saying you are a Christian does not make you one.
We cannot change others’ hearts. That is what Christ can and does do. Love them. Pray for them. Lift up Christ and trust Him to do what He promised.

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