This week, we celebrate five years of marriage equality, when the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was constitutional and to be implemented across the country. That day my news feeds were filed with rainbows, couples embracing while they wept tears of joy and relief, celebrations, and courthouse step weddings. It was a day many of us had worked for, prayed for and hoped for but never really believed would come.
Five years later, we still celebrate. We celebrate our own Two Rivers Church couples who have their relationships covenanted in legal marriage. We celebrate families that now have legal protections and access to medical care, parenting rights to their children, and end-of-life decision-making abilities. We celebrate the way this landmark decision has made the queer folx more fully a part of mainstream life in ways that seemed impossible even ten years ago.
This anniversary isn’t just a celebration of the strides the queer community has made. It’s a day of lament, a day of grief, and a day that we clearly and plainly say, “It’s not enough.”
We lament because rampant discrimination is practiced openly and without shame. Our current presidential administration repeatedly rolls back rights and protections for LBGTQ+ people, putting their healthcare, employment and lives in real danger. Queer folx experience discrimination at the hands of their employers, landlords, and law enforcement in overwhelming numbers. We lament that full equality is out of reach.
We also grieve today because full equality does not exist in the church, the place where followers of Jesus proclaim that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free but all are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
In our own United Methodist tradition, our queer siblings cannot serve as pastors and our polity restricts our clergy from marrying same-sex couples or risk having their credentials revoked and jobs taken away.
At Two Rivers, we loudly say You Are Beautiful and fully embrace our queer siblings and friends as beautiful and perfect in God’s sight and actively resist the restrictions on anyone’s life of God’s call to serve as pastors or the right of couples to be married by the pastor of their choosing.
We also say that the pursuit of equality is not enough when we see how our queer Black, Indigenous and people of color siblings and friends are marginalized. It is not enough to be anti-racist while homophobia also reigns. It is not enough to lift up the struggle and plight of one marginalized group while ignoring the realities of others. The pursuit of equality must be intersectional because it’s the intersections that bring us liberation and freedom.
And Pride, at its heart, is both intersectional and liberating. It’s about freedom not just for one type of person but freedom for all people. Pride is the place where we bring our full selves – our race, our backgrounds, our abilities, our sexualities, our very identities – and declare that we are free not because of one part of who we are but because of EVERY part of who we are. As people of faith, Pride is where we declare the liberation, the freedom and power that the Divine gives to us to step into the crossroads of our identities and fully claim that God created us perfectly and wonderfully made, that we are beautiful in God’s sight – every single part of us.
The work of Pride is always intersectional. It’s always liberating. It’s always about wholeness and completeness. It’s where we find the courage and boldness to overcome the lament, the grief and the pain of the lack of progress in the pursuit of equality. It’s where we are able to find celebration and joy in becoming all that God made us to be.
At Two Rivers, we hold space for the pain and lament because we know there is still so much work to do and so far to go until all experience the liberation that Pride promises. But we also stand at the intersections of our identities and embrace the power of Pride – the power of freedom, the power of joy, the power of celebration.