Pride beyond the Red Doors

The month of June begins a season of special events that includes parades, fundraisers, rallies, and parties celebrating the right to be who you are and to love who you love. The Episcopal Church has been one of the denominations that has worked hard for equality in the Church. We welcome everyone. We ordain people of all genders and orientations. And organizations like Integrity, TransEpiscopal, and Oasis continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ members. We should be proud of our accomplishments.

And are we taking that same passion out into the community? What do we do to support and advocate for our LGBTQ+ family and neighbors outside our red doors and after June? What is our relationship with folks that may never consider joining our congregations because of the trauma of rejection by their faith communities and families of origin? There is a lot of pain and fear out there. Church is not always a safe place. Have we considered taking ourselves and the sacraments out to our queer neighbors as a free gift with no expectation of filling our pews, our volunteer pool, or our pledges?

Even with all the gains made for equality for the LGBTQ+ community in our country in the last few years, it has always been dangerous to be queer. It still is. Even in a city that seems welcoming. Homophobia and transphobia are policy in countries around the world and becoming more so in our own country given the current political climate. Transwomen are being murdered at an alarming rate. Gay bashing not only occurs around the world, but in our own city. People living with HIV and AIDS, even with lifesaving medications, have challenges with compromised immune systems, side effects of meds, and fears of losing health care. And poverty in the LGBTQ+ community is an everyday struggle, especially for transgender men and women (particularly if they are people of color).

There is a lot of suffering in the community. It can seem overwhelming. How do we become allies to folks who need so much? First we spend time listening. Pride events and events at other times of the year like the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (March 17); International AIDS Day (December 1st) and Harvey Milk’s birthday (May 22nd) are great opportunities to learn about the reality and needs of the queer community. We can go out and be in relationship. An important way to build relationship is to volunteer with LGBTQ+ nonprofits. Help with fundraising for folks in need (such as queer refugees, trans youth, LGBTQ+ elders, the list is endless); join safety patrols; answer a crisis or talk line; help maintain the gardens at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park or another site in your area. Get political. Demonstrate. Stand in prayer and vigil. Learn about how to be a better ally and the importance of language. And love and pray with people. And give up any agenda.

Just love. That’s what the community needs. Your love mirrors God’s love.

 

Diana Wheeler is a deacon in the Diocese of California who leads the Companions of Dorothy the Worker, an ecumenical Christian community that ministers with and among the LGBTQ+ community. Visit www.companionsofdorothy.org to learn more.