The importance of story. How do we tell our story? How do you tell your story? Whose story is the right one? It is said to the Victor goes the myths and the monuments. What happens when there is no victor?
I stood beside the AIDS Memorial Quilt for 5 days. It is a huge monument. So big in fact it could never be displayed as a whole again unless they were to lay it out in the desert. It is almost 20 acres in size and that is without walking paths between each 12-foot square. To the victor goes the monuments?
So today I am lumping the 50th anniversary of stonewall and ONA Sunday all together. So, I am wondering who remembers stonewall. I mean really remembers it as a significant event? The main stream news coverage was minimal, to zero. What is actually worse is it was not the first event that many never heard of…
“May 1959 - Transgender women, drag queens, lesbians, and gay men clashed with police at Cooper Donuts, a hang-out for them and street hustlers who were frequently harassed by the Los Angeles police department (LAPD). Police arrested three people, including John Rechy (a famous author in the los Angeles area who writes on gay culture and is still alive today) but other patrons began pelting the police with donuts and coffee cups. The LAPD called for back-up and arrested a number of rioters. Rechy and the other two original detainees were able to escape.
September 1964 – New York, Organized by activist Randy Wicker, a small group picketed the Whitehall Street Induction Center after the confidentiality of gay men's draft records was violated. This action has been identified as the first gay rights demonstration in the United States.
January 1st 1965- The Council on Religion and the Homosexual held a costume party at California Hall on Polk Street in San Francisco to raise money for the new organization. When the ministers informed the San Francisco Police Department of the event, the SFPD attempted to force the rented hall's owners to cancel it. At the event itself, some of the ministers and ticket takers were arrested, creating a brief riot.
The CRH was formed in 1964 by Glide Memorial Methodist Church, as well as Daughters of Bilitis founders Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin. It included representatives of Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and United Church of Christ denominations”
There are 23 events listed in the before stonewall page of Wikipedia…I think the thing that hits me hard is many people believe the at the LGBTQIAA+ community just came out of nowhere in 1969 but we know our stories, we have lived our stories and many people have walked besides us throughout history…
But what happened that night…how is it that, that night is special…
There is a beautiful article that sums up the events that day
The Night the Stonewall Inn Became a Proud Shrine
It was “a bar for the people who were too young, too poor or just too much to get in anywhere
“The Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Manhattan, which was reopened by a mobster named Fat Tony in March 1967.CreditCreditLarry Morris/The New York Times
By Michael Wilson
June 27, 2019
Hours before it was to become a flash point in the modern gay rights movement and a landmark visited with awe and reverence half a century later as if a shrine, it was just a dark, dingy bar called the Stonewall Inn, just another Friday night in June.
A mobster named Fat Tony with the Genovese crime family had bought the place two years earlier for a song — it had been a restaurant damaged in a fire — and reopened it as a gay bar. The mob owned most of the city’s gay bars, running them as private clubs because they could not obtain liquor licenses. The bars were cash machines.
Fat Tony slapped black paint on the walls and windows and posted a man at the front door. A concrete wishing well, inherited from the restaurant, remained inside the front door. The new owner often boasted that he recouped his modest investment in the first few hours of opening night in March 1967.
There were two bars and rooms for dancing to the jukebox. Bartenders made drinks with cheap liquor served out of bottles bearing brand-name labels. Dirty glasses were dunked in dirty sinks. The drinking age was 18, and broke kids who couldn’t afford a drink held empty beer cans all night to fool the waiter.”
The legend says…I said legend says the gay community had been in mourning because Judy garland had just passed away on June 22 the bar had just been raided two nights before and several other bars were raided and a few shut down in the previous weeks…they had enough a group ended up across the street from the bar yelling in protest, others joined in, someone threw a rock, a brick or a bottle no one knows for sure but several officers ended up barricading themselves in the bar till back up could arrive.
A year later NY had a rally to commemorate pride and Los Angeles had a parade, a church event…Wait what? The first gay pride parade was a church event. Let me quote an op ed from Advocate magazine. It speaks a little of the history of pride but more importantly it speaks of us an open affirming congregation, a reconciling congregation
“In 1970 the Reverend Troy Perry, a Baptist minister turned Pentecostal preacher, organized the first Pride parade. Perry had come out as gay in the 1960s and started a church in his Los Angeles home for gay and lesbian Christians. Soon, hundreds filled Perry’s services, many breaking down into tears when they received communion for the first time as openly gay believers.
Throughout the 1970s, gay and lesbian churches, synagogues, and religious organizations appeared throughout the country. Many still exist today. Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, an LGBTQ synagogue in New York City founded in 1973, has rented a special venue this week because their regular sanctuary cannot accommodate the vast number of people, they expect to attend their Pride Shabbat service. Other LGBTQ religious communities that flourished decades ago have closed within recent years as institutions like the Presbyterian and Episcopal Churches now welcome LGBTQ people as equals.
The idea that religion thrives within LGBTQ communities has garnered some attention this year as the first openly gay presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, has made the media circuit describing his Christian faith and how his marriage brought him closer to God. And gay religious characters have started to appear in popular culture. On Netflix’s newest hit show, Dead to Me, the most pious Christian character is a gay man.
To be sure, many religious communities still reject LGBTQ people. Countless LGBTQ Americans suffer through years of trauma as they sit in pews listening to hatred from the pulpit. And without question, the Religious Right’s influence in the Trump administration and state legislatures has enabled an assault against transgender people in all areas of society, from bathrooms to the military, which we must remedy soon. But this is not the entire picture of religion and LGBTQ people, and allies have appeared in surprising places. Just last week my own alma mater, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis stood by one of its teachers when the Archdiocese insisted the school terminate a faculty member who is in a same-sex marriage. The Jesuit high school refused to fire the gay teacher even as the Archdiocese decreed the school could never again call itself Catholic. I have seen several LGBTQ Catholic alumni express gratitude and words of prayer on social media.
When we fail to recognize how religion has shaped LGBTQ communities, our activism, and the aspirational dreams of so many LGBTQ people, we let antigay religious leaders and politicians speak on behalf of all religious people. Someone like Jerry Falwell, Jr. does not represent all Christians. We need to stop indulging the illusion that he, or Mike Huckabee, or Mike Pence, or any other antigay religious figure is a more legitimate Christian than someone like the Reverend Troy Perry who proudly declared, “The Lord is my shepherd and He knows I’m Gay.” We give the Religious Right too much power by perpetually focusing on them.”
I confess when I thought about preaching today realizing this is the first time this church has celebrated a pride Sunday or an ONA Sunday, I was nervous. I didn’t want to make this about me and it’s not. Yes, I am a gay man but more importantly we have LGBTQIA+ children, young people, who are trying to find their way in the world and the voice of hate is strong and the religious right has been controlling the dialogue. Did you hear todays gospel…? a whole village turned Jesus away…there are too many who know that story personally…
“the son of man has nowhere to lay his head” too many know that story!
“let the dead bury the dead but as for you, go and proclaim the kindom of God!” so many know that story…
“No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God!” so many know that story.
Nowhere to lay a head….Many young people have to leave their home, their Church their family because they are true to who God has called them to be; “agencies reported working with LGBT youth, with providers indicating that 30% of their clients identified as gay or lesbian, 9% identified as bisexual, and 1% as transgender (for a total LGBT population served of 40%).”
Let the dead bury the dead. Many a person where not even welcome home for a funeral and often learned of family passing months to years later just because they were LGBT+ the other side of that is we had so many to bury in the 80’s and 90’s we were dead tired of funerals and memorial services we were dead tired of fighting our own government just to pay attention to us yet we pushed on, act up fight AIDS was the war cry. And many a soldier fell…
No one puts a hand to the plow and looks back…The kingdom of God that the UCC, the American Methodist church and the UU church envision is one that will continue to move forward to fight for a just world for all and make sure our community doesn’t just survive but thrives.
What does a thriving Church look like?
Open, Affirming and Reconciling Statement
We, the faith community of the Federated Church of Marlborough, celebrate that every person is a beloved child of God, made in God's image and redeemed by God's radical love. We recognize that our LGBTQ sisters and brothers have suffered discrimination and exclusion in many places, including and often caused by the Church. Jesus taught by word and example how we ought to love one another, and we reject using Bible quotations as weapons against the LGBTQ community.
Therefore, we welcome all people to be full members of our community without condition. We welcome persons of any sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, race, ethnicity and persons who are physically or mentally challenged. Rich or poor, all are welcome here. We celebrate family in all its forms, and honor, support and bless all loving and committed relationships. We celebrate the rainbow and the richness of diversity. Loving one another as Jesus loves us, and following his example and his commandment to love one another, we rejoice to say that no matter where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here.
In that simple statement you have flung open the doors of this community making it possible to broaden our welcome daily. You have declared this a safe place for LGBTQ+ People. You have made it a safe place for those suffering from disabilities, from mental illness, from discrimination of any kind. You have made the way for us to be a migrant welcoming congregation.
We have work to do. Having a simple statement on the wall isn’t enough. We need to do more to reach out to the world around us. Perhaps next June we can do a pride film series not just lifting up the history of LGBTQ folks but also some fun films that show how we can just laugh at ourselves.
Would anyone be interested in having a contingent in one of the local pride events? By local we are talking Nashua, concord or Manchester???
What can we do around mental health and well being? Can we have a mental health fair where we invite local agencies to display the services they provide?
Can we feed our hungry community more than once a Month? I wonder what would a Sunday brunch service look like at the community center?
I wonder about a lot of things and if there are things, we cannot physically do then who can we partner with?
I am honored to be your pastor, I am proud to be a gay married man living here, I am your pastor and teacher but I cannot do this alone…somethings take money…some things take bodies…some things take initiative
Let’s get out message out there let’s live into our extravagant welcome so that everyone knows truly no matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey say it with me YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!