A number of years ago John and I went to Nova Scotia / PEI for our holidays. We stayed at the Rainbow Lodge just outside Charlottetown. I had been invited by our host to preach the PRIDE service that year in the Presbyterian Church in Charlottetown---go figure.
Communion, and I always state it’s Christ’s table and ALL are welcome and, for some reason went on about denomination not mattering, personality not mattering, GENDER not mattering.
I asked for some volunteers to come and help with serving. All men. I said this is not going to happen until I have at least one woman here as well. We are gender inclusive too!
An awkward silence, but a good awkward. A woman comes forward.
At the end of the service, she came to me. She was quietly weeping. “I was raised Roman Catholic and have been waiting all my life to do what you allowed me to do today.” I cried with her and thanked God for giving her what she needed to be fed.
That is what PRIDE is all about for me. ACCEPTANCE. The entire GLBTQTQAetc&H: Which roughly translates into: gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer, two spirited, questioning, asexual, etc. [for whoever isn’t covered] AND our heterosexual friends as well.
In A Blessing In Disguise Daphne Rose Kisyma writes of her father’s dying of colon cancer and her journey with him.
He was 65, a college professor loved by his students.
“I often sat with him in his room watching the mysterious unwinding of his body from his soul.”
One of his favourite students arrived---a young man he had befriended, offering the unconditional love his father had been incapable of.
He was in tears because he had forgot the present he had for this cherished teacher.
Daphne’s dad said, in a voice filled with love, “You have brought yourself, you are the gift.”
“You have brought yourself, you are the gift.”
Those eight words changed a young man’s life forever. They changed Daphne. They changed me and I pray they change you.
“You have brought yourself, you are the gift.”
The self, the TRUE self is what we seek to embrace.
We are celebrating PRIDE Sunday when we welcome our God given sexuality in whatever form we may choose to express it.
But our sexuality is of no meaning if we are not true in ALL aspects of our being because only then---warts and all---can we truly call ourselves liberated.
It took me nearly sixty years to fully embrace all aspects of my being. And I have learned that when you are real there is room for real love. Your brothers and sisters rejoice.
But be forewarned: You will drive people who aren’t real crazy.
BUT if you, to the best of your abilities, bring your true self to the table you become the vessel in which all others can find room and home.
Rev. Cheri DiNovo was one of my classmates at Emmanuel College. She actually married the first same sex couple---two lesbians---who were from Central America.
Their first names were very uncommon by Canadian standards and the gender box was missed when the license was processed at Thunder Bay. It was legal.
The June after that John and I were going to march in our first PRIDE. We met up with Cheri and she was stressed. She needed the women she had married for a photo op prior to the start of the parade.
Cheri gets things done. “Warren / John get in the convertible. I need shots of a same sex couple and I’m not worrying about gender.”
So we get in, the pictures get taken, and I’m thinking:
“Oh my God! My pastoral charge south of Hamilton will have a bird! Everyone will know! [Internalized homophobia is freaky. John had, at this point been living with me in the manse for over 2 years!!!]
In retrospect the only person not knowing and naming I was queer was me!!!
Our old testament reading speaks volumes to me. How each of us could be like Joseph, away from family and when re-connected not even acknowledged or recognized.
Shepherds stink. In ancient times they were with their flocks 24/7. They didn’t check into the local B&B each evening or the Dessert Hilton. Bathing was a luxury unknown to them.
Joseph is now years older. Wiser. Perfumed, kohl around his eyes, a Pharonic headdress because he was, after all, second only to Pharaoh. Blindingly white Egyptian linen, enough jewels to boggle even our eyes today.
They didn’t know their own brother because of the packaging.
My husband John worked for the federal government. A number of years ago he was at a GLBT Union event in Vancouver.
There was a “Meet & Greet” the first evening. As he entered the room he noticed a tall woman, dressed in full leathers including a leather cowboy hat, LOTS of tattoos and LOTS of piercings.
He walked around her and got a drink.
The second morning the head co-ordinator of the event asked at the start of the day’s business how folks were doing.
The leather clad, pierced, tattooed woman stood and said: “I came here expecting to be welcomed and not judged. Since my arrival NO ONE has spoken to me.”
John can not re-tell this story without tears. The entire room gasped.
What if she had been Joseph?
What if she had been the Christ?
The question and the challenge is when do we not know or acknowledge our own brother or sister because they look TOO Fabulous / or have too many piercings / or too dark or too light a complexion. They speak differently. They are from the “wrong” part of town.
When I was 4 [1950!!!]Ceven I shudder at how long ago that wasCI wanted a bride doll for Christmas. I got up Christmas morning knowing there wasn=t a chance. Boys don=t get dolls. I stepped into the living room and it was a movie moment. Zoom lens. Bride Doll!! Full screen. Beautiful dress. Blonde.
I looked at mom and she was smiling. Only child and the kid was happy.
I looked at my dad and knew instantly that I had disappointed him. Somehow there was something wrong with me.
The only other person who saw her was Michelle, my friend who had a cottage across the river.
It=s now been awhile. I was at my Spiritual director=s and was telling the bride doll story. She stopped me cold and said, Awhere did you keep her.@
In the top drawer of my dresser. I never took her out unless I was alone.@
And Flora, God love her, moved me into a guided mediation. AGo back in time. Picture your room. Open the drawer. Take her out. Close the drawer. Let her be.@
I visualized pulling the drawer. Picking her up and closing it for good.
Another high drama moment of intense sobbing.
I went straight from there to Zeller=s being a frugal drama queen and bought a bride doll and brought her home and put her up on the mantle. Nearly hid her but resisted.
That weekend we were up at Les & Bill=s and as I walked into the kitchen saw a box suspiciously familiar with my name on it.
A brunette to go with my blond vision of loveliness.
I'm the only person in our circle with two lesbians in bridal drag on the mantle.
Affirmation! Acceptance! Pride!