Today, we as a nation along with the greater global community continue to mourn 49“Holy Innocents” whose lives were stolen in the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on Sunday morning, June 12. They were brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, friends and neighbors, boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives. Mostly they were young and primarily Latino. But above all, they were Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming and Allied human beings who were loved and had hopes and dreams for long, full lives. This tragedy has lead us all to a defining moment in our U.S. history.
The implication of such moments in our lives is that of clarity and purpose. Defining moments are the times when it is obvious to ourselves and to others who we truly are and more significantly, who God calls us to be. It becomes the true definition of who we are. And who we are is found, not in who we say we are, but, in how we embody who we say we are. Even more, it is how we persistently live out our lives within this “who” in the aftermath of transitions. Through these moments, our respective “who” is always a process, a time of transformation. But, defining moments are not always easy moments.
The Orlando tragedy is an assault on our country and on our lives. Many pastors offered words of comfort for the victims’ families; words denouncing violence and gun culture; and prayers for a more peaceful world. Then, there are those other guys. “Pastors” in Florida, and Texas, who said unspeakably hateful things about the LGBT community; who publicly prayed that God might “finish the job” and kill the rest of them; and some other terrible things that does not need repeating. Suffice to say, as long as they are out there, then we can’t be safe and comfortable wherever we are.
In contrast, there are clergy colleagues who have insisted, “those of us who have not spoken are complicit in the violence”. Yet, despite the muteness of my voice and an overall numbness, my heart aches; my frustration grows and I sit, watching, listening and silently praying. Through it all, my mind flashes to God saying, “Love one another as I have loved you.” The question then that looms before me and before us all is: “Will we love one another as our God loves us? Well, we can if we…
Let love be genuine; and love one another with mutual affection…
Be ardent in spirit. Rejoice in hope… persevere in prayer.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
(Selected from Romans 12:9-21)
That’s it! That’s how we are called to live our lives and particularly as followers of Jesus the Christ. Still, how do we as Believers live this out? How do we love one another as God loves us? How do we show God’s love and presence in this world? How do we overcome evil with good? As I ponder these questions, I’m at a loss. I realize I don’t have perfect answers. I come up short and I feel small and helpless and unable to do much in the face of Orlando.
But what I do know is this…what I can do, I will do. For the time being, I’ll continue to pray. I’ll make monetary donations to justice campaigns. I won’t point fingers and I won’t blame others for the suffering. I’ll forgive those who inflict pain and misery on others during this tragic time. I’ll welcome the stranger. I’ll continue to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. I will serve God until I die. My love will be real.
So, in this our defining moment, we must never forget the 49 names and their stories. We must stand in the spirit of our Jewish brothers and sisters who declare, “never forget” the holocaust; just as out brothers and sisters of African Ancestry remembering the genocide of the middle passage and the endurance of slavery; we will never forget not only the “49” lost in the Pulse Night Club (2016), but also the saints of Stonewall (1969) as well as the “martyrs” of the Upstairs Lounge (1973). Let’s commit, each of us, to one another. After all, our movement is only as solid as our ability to stay united and strong to the cause. Pick a justice lane and work it. Let our spirits rest in this…
My God calls to me in the morning dew
The power of the universe knows my name
Gave me a song to sing and sent me on my way
I raise my voice for justice I believe
(Songwriter: Bernice Johnson Reagon)
FINALLY, OUR CHALLENGE TODAY is to use our voices. We must shout out from every corner to proclaim, declare and speak truth to power. We’ll call out hatred and hypocrisy everywhere in this world. Collectively we’ll strive to tear down power structures that work only to demean those who are viewed as lesser; we’ll insure that those who feel that their voices are taken away, find an avenue to be heard. But in order to be effective in our fight, a lot more of us who are LGBT-GNC must do the work of self-love to improve the way that we feel about ourselves; and to like ourselves better before we can hope for others to love us and join us in our efforts for equality and justice in “The Mourning After” .
…Yours in fellowship