Please join us in Old Town Square tonight (Sunday, November 20) at 5 PM for a solidarity vigil for Club Q and Transgender Day of Remembrance. Foothills Unitarian is co-hosting this important gathering. Charlie Williamson – lifelong UU, Foothills Congregant, and one of the leaders of our Foothills Youth Group – will open the vigil. Rev. Sean will also speak and lead prayer songs with our Music Director, Benjamin Hanson.
Our hearts are heavy with grief, and anger, as we take in the news from Colorado Springs and the shooting that took place at Club Q last night. We bear witness to the deaths of five beloved people and the injuries sustained by 25 others.
For those whose gender expands beyond expectations and whose love doesn’t color in the lines, the gay bar has often been a safe place – a sanctuary not too different from a church. Especially in a city like Colorado Springs, home of Focus on the Family, where strategies to destroy queer people have been dressed up in bible verses for decades.
It is not news to LGBTQIA+ people that our lives, bodies, love, and very existence are a threat some cannot abide. In response, the queer community has claimed space at places like Club Q and made whole worlds from freedom, love, and glitter. On the dance floor, we proclaim our inherent worth, our right to unconditional love, and our right to pleasure and life, abundant.
We also know all too well that until the society beyond these sanctuaries’ walls is transformed with this same vision, even our safe places can become sites of terror. After all, even pride was born from violence resisted and returned in a gay bar in 1969.
Over fifty years later, our country continues to fuel hatred against LGTBTQIA+ peoples – with bans on medical treatment for trans kids, proposals to classify drag shows as adult entertainment (like strip clubs), with Hallmark stars sticking to showcasing “Traditional Marriage” on their new TV shows, and with a Respect for Marriage Act that doesn’t even codify the right same-sex marriage in all states.
Even here, in Northern Colorado, our local school district faces unfounded accusations of “recruitment” and campaigns to make support and education less accessible for our children and youth.
And all of this, we want to acknowledge, continues to be sanctified by religious communities who confuse their own fear and hatred with God’s.
We are not surprised that this sanctified hatred continues to put bullets in the bodies of queer people. Especially in a state where our gun-wielding newly elected representative just invited a vigilante teenager (celebrated for murdering racial justice protestors) to join her as her first return act to congress. We are not surprised. But we are still shocked, and we are still grief-stricken, and we still believe that this path is not righteous, or right, or inevitable.
By our faith, we proclaim that being gay (or wherever you fall in the LGBTQIA+ spectrum) is good, healthy, and beautiful. Being queer isn’t something to just be tolerated. It is something to celebrate – even in the midst of this grief. Especially on days like this, we are called to roll out the welcome table and keep setting out more and more chairs. We are called to turn the whole world into the safety and liberation of the dance floor, where we encourage one another to bring your whole, true self. Your fabulous, surprising, creative self. Whatever that looks like, whoever and however you love. Whatever your truest expression of your gender. However any of these things change and shift across your lifetime, or even within a day. Every person and every part of every person is loved in the truth of themselves.
On this day when violence tries once again to silence and stifle and bully us all to play it straight, we continue to say, be more gay. Be more trans. Be more queer. And because it is the sum of all of these things, be more love.
We are holding every person impacted by last night’s shooting in love, and we are especially holding all of our trans and genderqueer siblings in love on this Transgender Day of Remembrance. In your truest selves, you are beautiful, and you are loved.
Revs. Gretchen, Sean and Elaine