NYC was one of several cities celebrating Pride today. For those who are not aware, there is a history that colors what today means.
On June 28, 1969, as the story goes, police raided a NYC village bar called the Stonewall Inn. Generally, the bartenders would know ahead of time of a raid–but they were not aware. A raid usually meant that men would be lined up and asked of ID, and people dressed as women would be taken and physically identified in a lavatory. Those who were crossdressing would be arrested. There are many theories why, but the patrons did not comply with the police. People were arrested, but the vehicles for collecting them had not arrived. Others were released, but did not leave, and a crowd formed outside. Tensions rose and the crowd stood up for itself against the police, overturning police wagons and cars, many in the crowd were homeless lgbt youth, according to some sources. The crowd stood up to the police and barricaded them in the bar. Police began a sweep and were met with a kickline. Police chased down protesters and cleared the streets by the early morning. But the crowds returned a second night. This was known as the Stonewall Riots–and well worth learning about.
From these Riots rose Christopher Street LIberation Day which has morphed into today’s NYC Pride.
I work for an organization that helps at-risk LGBTQ youth–many of which have been kicked out of their homes by their parents, all in need of mentoring and love. Today I marched with them down Fifth Avenue. I was struck by the many signs that said “We are so sorry for what the Church has done to you” and “Not all Christians hate you”.
I was moved to tears several times. I thought of one of the beatitudes: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
I realized that it was the LGBTQ community that is insulted, persecuted, and has all kinds of evil falsely said about it by those claiming to be of Jesus…and how their lives and their seeking of equality, dignity, and love was a Prophetic call speaking to the Church universal–a prophecy as strong as the ancient prophets calling us to see God’s true love without our blinders.
The lesson at Evensong today, turned out to be the Beatitudes.
The other was from Acts 2: In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.
I found myself choked up–thinking of the visions our youth have to see–the pain of being kicked out by family, of having to survive on the street, the abuse, the neglect, the deterioration of their dignity. Of the dreams of the folks who protested in Stonewall who are now seeing marriage equality in 50 states, and progress in fronts that surely only seemed like dreams–and of the prophetic message that the lives of the LGBTQ community is sharing with the Church.
It has been a truly moving day for me–and I felt I just had to share.