By: Paul P. Jesep*/TRT Columnist—
It’s not a burden anyone wants. The Giver of Life designates persons, known or not, with a special kind of duty and responsibility. The task can be thankless because it may be met with silence and, sometimes, ridicule by the insecure, the threatened, and the ignorant.
Those chosen sometimes deserve the title of prophet; someone considered an inspired teacher, spiritual mentor, or a person who speaks about universal, cosmological goodness. Prophets are set apart from others.
They can be religious and secular. Jesus, Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., were great prophets. Pete Seeger, through song, poetry, and activism was a prophet.
Harvey Milk was an unapologetic activist for LGBTQ civil and human rights well before it had found a place in mainstream America. He, too, was a prophet.
Christel Highland, the daughter of Kansas Rep. Ron Highland (R), is a prophet. She spoke truth to power when her father co-sponsored anti-LGBTQ legislation. She took to social media to publicly denounce the father she loves unconditionally. Her father apologized and asked that his name be removed from the legislation.
There are three prophets at The Rainbow Times—Graysen M. Ocasio, Publisher of The Rainbow Times (TRT), Lorelei Erisis, columnist; and Mike Givens, Assistant Editor for TRT. All of whom have courageously written about and shared very personal, powerful stories that, for different yet similar reasons, plant seeds to nurture and comfort others.
I’ve read and observed Graysen’s public and courageous transformation and ongoing activism, an extraordinary inspiration to others. Equally powerful is the sojourn of Lorelei writing about being a trans woman and issues confronting the trans-community in general. I’ve reflected on Mike’s columns sharing struggles about reconciling the past to be the man the Creator intended him to be.
Being a prophet is not about perfection. Some would even argue Jesus wasn’t perfect since he did lose his temper with the apostles. This, however, gives prophets authenticity. It suggests there’s always room to grow and improve the world one day at a time. It gives prophets greater depth and complexity and helps us to relate to them.
They have a different perspective on the unfolding truths of the universe. I don’t believe, for example, anyone is changing the Hebrew Scriptures or the New Testament when it comes to same-gender marriage or transgender rights. A higher truth is revealed as humanity collectively grows and learns.
Look at history. At one time the Christian church believed the world was flat and men and women could turn into cats and conjure the devil. Slavery in America and serfdom in Eastern Europe was justified in the name of God. Today, no more. Did “popular culture” change the Giver of Life? Or did humanity learn and grow embracing a higher and greater truth?
This is the role of a prophet–to push society and individuals with civility and respect to see life and all Creation in a broader, expansive way.
I want to invite readers to ask, “Am I a prophet? Can I be a prophet?” The LGBTQ community needs persons of spiritual and intellectual integrity to be prophets. We all have the potential to set a positive example for others.
It can, however, cause loss of friends and family. Relationships in the workplace can become strained. Yet it’s an opportunity to be genuine, authentic, compassionate, and show holy kindness on earth. Speak and live your truth so others can see and hear it.
As Harvey Milk said, “I know you can’t live on hope alone; but without hope, life is not worth living. So you, and you and you: you got to give them hope; you got to give them hope.” Hope also brings a kind word and the affirmation of another’s personhood.
*Paul is a personal chaplain, seminary trained priest, and lawyer in greater Albany, NY. He’s also the author of “Lost Sense of Self & the Ethics Crisis.”
[This column was first published on the March 7, 2019, issue of The Rainbow Times.]