I observed recently to a friend how grateful I am to be raising children in a time – and in the particular place of Columbia – where they have circles of friends in which queerness is openly assumed. I’m realistic enough to know that it’s not a universal experience (even in Columbia), that there are still too many proverbial closets, and that it’s not safe for every young person to express their queerness in their families, in their schools, in public spaces. Still, the experience of queer youth in the 2020s is decidedly different, in mostly positive ways, than that of queer youth even only a decade ago.
So, I am grateful for the ways our world is changing for our queer youth – that they can see a broader representation of genders and relationships and self-expressions in the places they inhabit, in popular media, in the news, in elected officials’ rhetoric, and in a variety of merchandise that is easily accessible.
I am grateful.
And I am reminded that vigilance is still necessary.
The attack on the crowd at Colorado Springs’ Club Q last weekend is a sobering reminder that while we celebrate progress, there are still very real threats and risks that lead to tragedies like this one. Especially when societal safety nets are fraying. Especially to those among us who are trans and queer in our patriarchal society. Especially when guns are so easily procured.
I keep thinking about @jerameykraatz’s tweet that’s been making the social media rounds: “If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public.”
So, like we discussed in Sunday’s worship (Of Gratitude and Grief), we hold and name our mixed-up feelings.
I don’t want to live in fear – I’d rather celebrate all the ways that queerness makes our world more fabulous. But I know we must also not be complacent – that ours must be an institution that fiercely and vigilantly reinforces the sacred humanity of every single one of us.
As Rev. Ashley Horan wrote in A Queer Prayer after Colorado Springs:
How could we do other than to claim and choose each other, every day?
We dance our resistance.
We sing our belovedness.
We gather each other up
and we do not let go.
As is our vow, today and all days:
we will mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.
And all the while, we will repeat this truth
Til it is lodged in our bones and
And undisputed anywhere:
We were meant for life, for abundance, for freedom.
We were made for joy.