This weekend, as we commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots – where the American LGBTQIA+ rights movement was birthed- I was also reminded of where I was one year ago today.
One year ago today, I was in Houston with several incredible Edgewater Congregations Together youth, 2 young adults, and one of my fantastic colleagues for the ELCA Youth Gathering and Multicultural Youth Leadership Event. And I was discerning whether or not I would come out publicly about my bisexuality.
Throughout the week, these youth and young adults created safe spaces for one another to share their struggles, fears, and joys, and they embraced and celebrated each other’s differences.
On the second to last day of our trip (which was the last full day of the Youth Gathering), our youth visited a booth hosted by the ELCA Reconciling Works.
One of these young adults asked my colleague to explain to him what all the LGBTQIA+ flags stood for. After my colleague started explaining, this young adult said: “Wait! All our youth need to hear this!” So he gathered the youth and my colleague began again. The youth were attentive and interested. They asked great questions and shared some stories about how they wanted to better understand and support their friends who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Then they grabbed rainbow tattoos and put them on their arms and took pictures. And that night they gave a standing ovation to the bisexual woman and the 11 year old trans youth who spoke on stage at the main gathering.
This weekend, I celebrated #Pride for the first time since coming out publicly about my bisexuality. And on Saturday I ran the Proud to Run Rainbow Half Marathon as a way to celebrate how God created me just the way I am.
Yesterday after church, several of my youth and young adults – including one youth who was at the Youth Gathering in Houston last summer – joined me in continuing our worship by praying with our feet and proclaiming the good news of God’s love for ALL as we marched in the Pride Parade! It was so incredibly special to march alongside them on this important Pride weekend.
And I have these youth and young adults (as well as those who led the Stonewall riots and all others who have gone before us to work for LGBTQIA+ rights and inclusion) to thank for all of this!
For it was through the loving and fully welcoming space that my youth and young adults created that day and week at the Youth Gathering that led me to come out to them about my bisexuality on our last night together in Houston and to eventually come out publicly last fall. And it was the continuous support I’ve received from them and from my other youth and young adults since coming out publicly that has led me to feel proud of who I am.
We have come a long way in the last 50 years since Stonewall, and yet we still have a long way to go.
So may we choose to follow the lead of these young people and all those who have gone before us to stand up and fight for equality for ALL!
For God is love! Love is love! We are all created by God with love, and we are all loved by God!