With Deep Thanks to My Church Family
Pride month (also known as June) is coming to an end. As I reflect on all the activities we have engaged in starting back in May, I am filled with gratitude – and pride – for my church family. Please accept my heartfelt thanks.
Together – more than a dozen of us painted and lettered the doors we have been displaying in the garden with the message “God’s Door Are Open To All”. A huge thank you to Tom and Michelle for finding a way to secure and display them.
Together – 32 of us marched in the Pridefest parade on May 15 behind the First Presbyterian banner. So many were touched – and a little shocked – by the sight of a “mainline” denomination church showing support. What a proud moment it was to join First Church of the Brethren, Heartland Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) and the Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist Congregation in showing LGBTQIA+ folks that there is a place for them in our spiritual communities.
Together – more than twenty of us put together a Pridefest booth and staffed it throughout a warm and sunny afternoon. We greeted people from all over Illinois and shared God’s love and acceptance.
Together – more than 80 individuals attended a service of Pride and Joy in our sanctuary. What a joy it was to come together with Heartland MCC and First Church of the Brethren for a time of remembrance, repentance and revolution.
Together – 28 people attended a class to learn what the Bible does and doesn’t say about “homosexuality”. We had a wonderful conversation discussing ways to talk with someone who doesn’t see things as we do.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of what is known as the Stonewall Uprising. It was one of the first times LGBT folks stood up to a corrupt police department in New York City and said ENOUGH! It was a very public act of resistance that is credited with birthing the gay rights movement. (If you aren’t familiar with the story it’s worth a Google.) I’m sure folks back then would be astonished to see how far we have come since then and maybe a little disappointed we haven’t come further.
The fight for equality continues and the pendulum swings back and forth. The rights LGBTQIA+ people have today are relatively new. It has only been 8 years since PCUSA allowed the ordination of LGBTQIA+ Presbyterians. Only 4 years since PCUSA ministers and sessions were allowed to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies wherever it was allowed by law.
It was only 4 years ago when the Supreme Court, by one vote, found that the U.S. Constitution requires states to license and recognize marriages between two people of the same sex thus making marriage equality the law of the land. How appropriate that the landmark decision would come during Pride month (June 26, 2015). But just two weeks ago Justice Clarence Thomas, in a dissent on a different case, laid the groundwork for overturning marriage equality by telling his fellow justices that they don’t have to follow past Court decisions if they are “demonstrably incorrect”. He cited the Obergefell decision as an example.
The intent of Pride month is to serve as a reminder that we are far from equality and justice for all. Unfortunately it continues to be necessary. As long as the murder of transgender persons of color remains at “epidemic” levels - there will need to be a Pride month. As long as more than 50% of all LGBTQIA+ Americans live in states that offer no protection from employment, housing and services discrimination - we will have a Pride month. As long as pastors still preach against LGBTQIA+ folks with some even advocating a “death penalty” - there will be Pride. As long as Christians discriminate under the heading of “religious liberty” – there will be a Pride month.
There is much to be done. Your support, encouragement and involvement is making a huge difference and gives hope to those of us who are on the margins. For that, I am very grateful.