Imagining a QueerWorldReverendKharmaAmosNovember 8, 2006I can't tell you what a privilege it is to be back here at LTS in Santee Chapel to celebrate with you duringwhat I have always affectionately referred to as "Queer Week." It is good to be with you today, to bereacquainted with some familiar faces, to meet new ones, and to observe some of the progress thatyou've made together in the time since I was a student here. I want to thank the organizing group, theadministration, and all of you for this opportunity. I am both honored and humbled to be able to sharea few thoughts with you in this time of worship.Would you pray with me?Holy Spirit, Breath of Life, we pray that you would fall afresh on us during this time of reflection … thatyour wisdom would open and guide our hearts and our minds. Inspire our sacred imaginations, we pray,with clarity of vision about the world you long to bring into being, as well as the role we might play inthat co-creative process. And may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts bepleasing and acceptable to you, O God, our strength and our liberation. Amen.I have to share with you … when I received the invitation to preach today, and Mil told me my topicshould be "Imagining a QueerWorld," … well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Iremember well the conversations that we had six years ago when I and two of my other classmates(Duane Romberger and Kurt Wieser) approached the administration about having a week longcelebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in ministry and in the church. Let's justsay the answer wasn't an automatic "yes," and we spent quite a bit of time talking about whether or notthe seminary was ready to do that … and when the answer to that question became a hesitant "yes", aguarded "yes", a somewhat anxious "yes" … well, then we spent time talking about how we could do sowith appropriate sensitivity to the variety of emotions and opinions that existed among the faculty, thestudent body, the community of Lancaster, and the larger church about issues of sexuality and genderidentity. One thing that was very clear at that time, however, was that the word "queer" was off limits.So, in the words of Queer Saint Holly Near, "Imagine My Surprise!" when I discovered your theme thisyear (on the home page of your website even) was "Imagining a QueerWorld." It made my heart glad.Now, I assume from the insert explaining the use of the word queer that some controversy may stillexist about its appropriateness or usefulness. I want to applaud the organizers of this week for theirdefinitional work … for articulating clearly the ways in which they are (re)claiming what has in ourhistory been a pejorative slur and transforming it into an active word meant to creatively call intoquestion or subvert heteronormative and other normative systems or assumptions. Queer is indeed aword that can be used to describe that which "deviates from the expected or normal; [that which] is oddor unconventional, eccentric or different." (I might add fabulous.) When used as a verb, queer can meanto spoil the illusion, or interrupt the notion, that any such stable category called "normal" even exists inthe first place.