we are love, we are pride!

It has been a while since I have posted something…I have written a bunch of things and have had an opportunity to preach, but haven’t been in a mental space to post. Tonight, I was invited to share a reflection for the new group The Sacred Swarm and it was the nudge I needed to post and recommit to posting. Below is the reflection I shared…and here’s to more blog preaching! As part of the gathering, we meditated on Kittredge Cherry’s Rainbow Christ Prayer (https://qspirit.net/rainbow-christ-prayer-lgbt-flag-reveals-queer-christ/). I encourage you to do the same. Happy Pride to all!

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7, 13: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Buenos tardes todas, todos, y todes.   Felicidades y bendiciones durante este tiempo de Orgullo.  Happy of happiest of Prides to everyone!  A rainbow filled muchas gracias to Nichole for the invitation to sermonize and preach a reflection.  Many thanks to all of you for joining tonight and for being present.

Before sharing my musings, I invite us to take a moment of silence to remember and honor the lives of trans people lost to violence…

  • Tyianna Alexander, also known as Davarea Alexander, 28, Chicago, Illinois
  • Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico.  
  • Bianca “Muffin” Bankz, Atlanta, Georgia  
  • Dominique Jackson, Jackson, Mississippi  
  • Fifty Bandz, 21, Baton Rouge, Louisiana  
  • Alexus Braxton, also known as Kimmy Icon Braxton, 45, Miami, Florida
  • Chyna Carrillo,  also known as Chyna Cardenas, 25, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.  
  • Siblings Jeffrey “JJ” Bright, a 16-year-old trans boy, and Jasmine Cannady, a 22-year-old non-binary person, Ambridge, Pennsylvania
  • Jenna Franks, 34, Jacksonville, North Carolina  
  • Diamond Kyree Sanders, 23, Cincinnati, Ohio  
  • Rayanna Pardo, 26, Los Angeles, California
  • Jaida Peterson, 29, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Dominique Lucious, 26, Springfield, Missouri
  • Remy Fennell, Charlotte, North Carolina 
  • Tiara Banks, 24, Chicago, Illinois 
  • Natalia Smut, 24, Milpitas, California 
  • Iris Santos, 22, Houston, Texas 
  • Tiffany Thomas, 38, Dallas, Texas 
  • Keri Washington, 49, Clearwater, Florida 
  • Jahaira DeAlto, 42, Boston, Massachusetts  
  • Whispering Wind Bear Spirit, 41, York, Pennsylvania
  • Sophie Vásquez, 36,  Georgia
  • Danika “Danny” Henson, also kownn as Pryynce Daniel and Niia Da Don, 31, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Serenity Hollis, 24, Albany, Georgia 
  • Oliver “Ollie” Taylor, 17, Gervais, Oregon  
  • Thomas Hardin, 35, York, South Carolina
  • Poe Black, also known as Oliver Jackson and Legion, 21, Niland, California 
  • EJ Boykin, also known as Novaa Watson, 23, Lynchburg, Virginia  
  • Andrea González and Cecy Ixpata, Guatemala City, Guatamala 
  • For lives silenced whose stories go unreported or misreported 
  • We also lift up those killed at Pulse in 2016 and all who are impacted by violence 
  • We mourn them, we say their names, and we recommit ourselves to fighting like hell for the living 

Presente … thank you.  

As we reflect on this passage, who are the ancestors, transcestors, queercestors, holy people, heroes, sheroes, theyroes, possibility models…all those in our sacred swarm whose lives, spirits, and memories inspire us…

I invite you to share them out loud, in the chat, and/or to yourself 

Love is Patient, Love is Kind … this letter by written by Paul or inspired by Paul to the community in Corinth is used in many marriage rituals as an expression of love and commitment.  It is a challenge to embrace relationships in healthy ways, not only in marriage but in the multitude of ways we all express affection, intimacy, and connection with each other and for each other.

During this Pride I wonder, query, ponder how does this frequently quoted passage apply not only to love in relationship with another but the love we have of and for ourselves?  What does it mean to love oneself proudly and fiercely?  What does it mean to love oneself in our living into fully radical bloomhood? 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love blooms all things. 

Pride bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Pride blooms all things.  

Pride grounded, rooted, immersed in love is not about self aggrandizement.  Rather, Pride is about loving and celebrating ALL of who we are individually and ALL of who we are as comunidad, especially in the face of systemic discrimination, rampant migroaggressions, and dehumanizing violence.  

Love rejoices in the truth, Pride rejoices in the truth that ALL of us are equally blessed and that ALL of us are created in the image, diversity, fierceness, and sassiness of Goddess.  

Or perhaps as Mrs. Which says in a Wrinkle in Time…“Do you realize how many events, choices, that had to occur since the birth of the universe leading up to the making of you? Just exactly the way you are.”  (And the pride with which these occurrences occurred with?!?!)

As a rainbow community we’ve embodied and reflected the spirit of First Corinthians.  We’ve been patient and kind, waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting some more for the day that ALL are equal truly mean ALL are equal. We’ve been patient and we’ve been kind in our pride, like Jesus and Paul often turning the other cheek and adapting ourselves as a marginalized community for the comfort of those in power.  However, also like Jesus, Paul, and many other prophetic voices throughout history we boldly proclaim and rant that enough is enough. We have and continue to actively call out injustice with our blood, sweat, tears, and lives. Embracing Love with pride does not mean the absence of anger, but instead our pride taps into the transformative power of rage and chutzpah to ripple throughout society sparking revolutions. To swarm is to be in comunidad…to swarm also sends a message “don’t mess with us” (or insert expletive that resonates your pride). 

We swarmed and continue to swarm with pride for those minoritized and marginalized within the queer community and outside of the queer community.  For as Marsha P. Johnson, mother of the Stonewall Riots, embodied… ”No Pride for some of us, without liberation for all of us!”     

We must reclaim love, we must reclaim pride.  The commercialization and appropriation of pride by businesses and companies is similar to what Paul warns that love is not to be boastful.  Our pride is not a gimmick to be commodified or a trend to show off or realities to exploit…Pride is the weaving together of struggle and resiliencies within our quirky, snarky, beloved rainbow swarm of misfits—to be shared on our terms.  Our pride is about boldly proclaiming to the world that we are not second class citizens and that our realities of pain and hope cannot and will not be used by others, even by well intended but misguided allies. Our love, our pride, our struggle, and our joy is not to be legislated or commodified or used for branding performative allyship. Yes, use the filters, share the hashtags, slay the swag…just make sure to do so all year long and honor the lives, bodies, and experiences these things represent with fierce humility.  

Our blooming as queer people, women, people of color, people of different abilities, people at the intersections of many different identities is often shattered by different parts of society.  We need to take pride in our isnesses and in our bloomings….We should not, cannot, will not feel shame or fear. This is not to undermine the experiences of hardship that we have endured…discrimination, rejection, isolation, confusion, violence.  

Our pride challenges wrongdoings by speaking, living, and embodying truth, even when it makes others uncomfortable.  We lift up…

  • The murders of trans people in the United States and around the world
  • The reality that yes as queer folks we can get married but we still lack full protections in employment and housing  (and most recently in opening our homes to foster children) 
  • The white washing and heterowashing of the radical gifts and contributions of LGBTQ folks of color
  • The kids who are kicked out of their homes for living and loving beyond the norm
  • The misrepresentation and otherization of our vibrant and diverse community in the media
  • The forgetting of the impact of HIV and AIDS on our community and lack of conversation about the impact of HIV and AIDS on our communities today

I recognize the trials and tribulations but I also honor that we’ve done some incredible things like 

  • Marching in parades
  • Claiming and proclaiming our theological voices 
  • Redefined and expanded familia 
  • Broken binaries creating spaces for trans folks and gender non-conforming folks and agender folks and gender expansive folks to live into their realness 
  • We continue to demand for equal and equitable representation in the media 
  • I get to hang out with folks such as yourselves who teach me about beingness and thrivingness and bloomingness 
  • We get to join our voices to a wider swarm advocating for all are welcome to truly mean all are welcome in church and society.

So yes the struggle is real and needs to be recognized, but at the same time we must almost celebrate our individual and collective badassery of radical blooming and thriving.

Am I sad, angry, and raging, yes…as Paul reminds us, love never ends even in the face of oppression. Paul didn’t say anything about love or pride being about comfort.  In the midst of the pain, we must love, we must be proud, and we must live.  Latino author and poet Justin Torres reminds us that much like those in Orlando were dancing and living proudly before being silenced, killed, and shattered…we too must thrive, dance, and live…by doing so we confront the fear and hatred with fierceness, realness, and pridefulness.  

We reflect and we remember our trailblazers, heroes, sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes”…we take pride in our possibility models of radical blooming…folks like 

  • Ethiopian Eunuch in the Book of Acts, Joan of Arc, Marinus
  • All those who broke the silence in ACT Up and the Lesbian Avengers
  • Bayard Rustin, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P Johnson, and Gloria Anzaldua
  • Albus Dumbledore and Xena Warrior Princess
  • Langston Hughes, Harvey Milk, Zora Neal Hurston, Marcella Althaus Reid, and John McNeil
  • Neil Patrick Harris, Zachary Quinto, Margaret Cho, Janet Mock, Jazz Jennings, Chaz Bono, Janelle Monae, Laverne Cox, Elliot Paige, Frank Ocean, Carmen Carrera, and so many others who are busting up the binaries with us and for us.  
  • We take pride in the allies within our families of origin and our families of choice, recognizing that a swarm that is proud together, changes the world together.   

I close with a quote from my friend and fellow queer theologian Brian Murphy…“Queer people have been ravaged by violence, and AIDS, and shame, and neglect and we have lost too many—God damn it we’ve lost too many to senseless violence and suicide and accidental deaths and not loving ourselves enough to go on living.  But we are here and we are living and we are thriving…we’re showing not only our personal resilience but also our collective political power as we overturn the laws the queerphobes hoped to silence and shame us and shut us down with.  I am proud because every part of the person I am today is tested and hard won…If we can see all of the impossibles that we’ve already achieved, it’s my hope that we can then set our sights on new impossibles and be amazed as we usher those into existence too…I’m honored that being queer means I’m part of the same movement of all the other queers out there, leading lives of greatness and simplicity, thriving and surviving. I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m damn proud of it.”

Is this what Paul had in mind when he wrote or inspired the letter to the Corinthians, perhaps not…honestly who knows what was going on in Paul’s head.  But we know that sacred scripture is living and continues to speak, revealing evolving truths and re-revealing insights into who we are as people of faith and people of spirit.  

Faith, hope, and love abide…the greatest of these is love, love that is love is love is love is love is love and love that is filled with pride for the awesomeness that is us. 

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love blooms all things. 

Pride bears all things, believes all things, hopes all thing, endures all things! Pride blooms all things. 

We are love and we are pride.  Amen, que asi sea.

Muchas gracias!   Happy Pride!  Cheers and queers!  Si se puede!

2 comments

  1. Happy Pride to you and the Sacred Swarm! Thanks for reflecting on our Rainbow Christ Prayer. May the Rainbow Christ be with you!

    Like

  2. I love your list of “trailblazers, heroes, sheroes and “insert-gender-neutral-pronoun-roes” — and am saving their names as inspiration for my LGBTQ Saints series at Qspirit.net. Thanks!

    Like

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