This year’s Pride celebration is such an important one for queer people. Not only are we still fighting the good fight, but we are also remembering the Stonewall Riots that happened 50 years ago. We honor the strong and courageous queer folks behind that uprising and continue the work that they have started 5 decades ago.
Brian: Welcome to the Queer Theology podcast!
Fr. Shay: Where each episode, we take a queer look at the week’s lectionary readings. We’re the co-founders of QueerTheology.com and the hosts for this podcast. I’m Father Shay Kearns
B: And I’m Brian G. Murphy. Good morning and happy Pride! Today is Sunday, June 30th, 2019. It is Pride in New York City — World Pride. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It’s a big weekend for queer people. It’s also my first Pride away from New York city in 11 years. I’ve been a queer man living in New York City for 11 years and so, Pride, in particular, and The Village and Stonewall all feels deeply personal to me. I’m excited to spend the morning talking about LGBTQ Pride and how that intersects with our lives and faith as queer Christians. So Shay, what do you have to say about this?
FS: Yeah, it’s so interesting. I still feel like, you know, I always reflect on the fact that growing up, Pride was considered the worst of the sins. And then, coming out, I really had to grapple with what it meant to be proud of my identity and who I am. It seemed like the double sin, right? Because not only was I queer and trans — which was definitely not okay in the church that I grew up in. But also, I was gonna be proud about being queer and trans? Which just felt like a flaunting that was just more than people can handle. And over the years, I’ve come to really love this sense of being proud. Particularly proud of something that so many other folks denigrate and say, shouldn’t exist. I find a lot of strength in being proud of my identity and a lot of strength in this sense of pride as resistance. Especially moved, this year reflecting on the fact that it’s been 50 years since Stonewall. And that Stonewall wasn’t a parade, it was a riot, and it was an uprising. It was a group of poor and people of color, sex workers and trans-women of color who finally said: “No!” We are not gonna let you harass us anymore. We are not gonna let you shake us down for money. We are not gonna let you kick us out of this space that we have, that we love and that’s safe. We’re gonna fight back. It’s so beautiful that that’s what started this movement for rights and I’m glad that people are reflecting more about the fact that it wasn’t white cis-gays that started Stonewall and that it was trans-woman of color. I’m seeing that more in the narrative now which I think is really beautiful. And I am also reflecting about how much work there’s still is to be done. I went to this orchestra event the other night. It was a Pride event, so they were playing works by composers who were LGBT. And I was struck by 2 things: 1) they only had one trans composer in the program and they left her out of the program, but it was an accident, you know, air quotes. But I was just really struck by the fact that seriously, the one person that you are going to leave out is a trans woman. And then the night ended with a white cis-man, I’m assuming, doing this “Aren’t we so happy about marriage, equality. I couldn’t have even dream that as a kid. Happy Pride!” And I was sitting in the audience and they had a trans flag on stage which I was really moved by. But like, in the past month, multiple trans-man of color have been murdered. There have been multiple rollbacks for trans-protection from the current administration. And I felt like, how tone deaf do you need to be, to get on stage and say the fight’s been won. So I’m approaching this anniversary with both this sense of joy, of yes, how far we’ve come, and also there’s a shit ton of work still to do. So, let’s get on it and start doing the work.
B: Yeah. So, so much work! You know, I’m really lucky that I’m surrounded by queer people all of the time. Almost all of my friends are queer, a significant number of my co-workers are queer. I grew up in the suburbs and was surrounded by all straight people, but since graduating college, I’ve lived in New York City and now Los Angeles. And so I take for granted that I’m around queer people all the time and that’s not true for everyone. So I think that Pride celebrations, especially in places outside big cities like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago, are really a time where you can be amongst our people. I think that there’s something holy and sacred there. I think you were talking about how Pride was seen as this bad sin and you shouldn’t take pride in being queer. And I am so thankful that I’m queer and I find so much pride in my community. And I think that as a cis-white-bi-sexual, in a lot of ways, things are really good for me. There’s still a lot of shit in my world that I have to go through as a queer person still, and as a polyamorous person, right? But in general, I’m living my life. I think that our lives are enriched by our relationship and by people that have different experiences and bring different perspectives back to the table. So, I as a cis, white, bisexual, when I see folks who have been left out of the Pride narrative for too long and being put back into it and sort of being able to claim their place — that makes me happy because I think that our community is richer when we can see the full scope of history and depth and brilliance of our community. And just like here in QueerTheology we talk a lot about the importance of reading the Bible in its context. If you don’t read the Bible with an eye to the communities: who it was written by and for, and the socio-religious-political context of its time. You might miss some really important things. I think the same thing is true about the queer movement and the queer community. That you have to take us all in context: our historical context and the community context. We are so much richer and powerful when we see ourselves for who we are and embrace all parts of the community and work in solidarity for justice and freedom.
FS: If you are interested in more of our takes around Pride and the different things we have done to cover pride over the years, we will put a link to all of those in the show notes. You can find that in the queertheology.com/283.
[outro music plays]
B: The Queer Theology podcast is just one of many things that we do at QueerTheology.com which provides resources, community, and inspiration for LGBTQ Christians and straight cisgender supporters.
FS: To dive into more of the action, visit us at QueerTheology.com. You can also connect with us online: on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, and Instagram.
B: We’ll see you next week.
This episode talks about:
- The deep and personal meaning of Pride to both Brian and Father Shay
- Remembering how the Stonewall riots changed the history of queer people
- Mad respect for the people of color and trans women of color who sacrificed a lot for the uprising 50 years ago
- The magnitude of work that still needs to be done for the rights and protection of queer people
- The importance of having a supportive community as a queer person
- How all this relates to reading the Bible in its context
Here are some articles where we talk about Pride, our thoughts, and personal experience.
Photo by Mercedes Mehling
This article was published by Brian & Shay, Queer Theology
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