By Brian Antonio Sieve, Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of El Paso.
Stonewall was a riot! It was led by gender Queer people of color in response to police abuse and harassment. Bricks were thrown, fires were set, and property was destroyed in the uprising to gain liberation for the lives of what we would today call the LGBTQQ2SIAA+ community. There were many attempts at Queer liberation before, and many since. Society still is not safe for all Queer folk. This is particularly true for Black and Brown women of transgender experience. So Pride is a protest movement, an annual uprising, rooted in Stonewall. It is the one time a year that our diverse community can come together, reflect on our values, communicate our needs, and declare with hope and confidence that next year will be even better!
Pride is also a celebration. Chicago and New York held freedom marches on the first anniversary of Stonewall. Troy Perry, the Founder of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC, my congregation) led a movement in Los Angeles to organize the first Pride parade called “Christopher Street West!” Troy had founded MCC in October 1968 to be a safe place for Queer folks to find community in non-judgemental faith rooted in God’s Unconditional Love.
Despite the vital importance of this liberation movement, Pride organizations were some of the first to recognize the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of concern for the whole community, face to face Prides activities were cancelled.
We worry especially about those who live in closets forced on them by our hetero-patriarchal society. Countless siblings discover some new freedom at Pride festivals or parades each year. For many, Pride is the only day where they can risk truly expressing their whole selves. It is also a time where all of us can explore our identities, our attractions, and our love for our own bodies in positive ways. Our liberation is a celebration of our sexuality, as much as our rights, and our faith. Our bodies and our sexuality are good, beautiful, healthy, a blessing!
So this year we will continue during Pride, to reach out with social distanced house calls, phone calls, texts, private messages, websites, newsletters, Face Book pages, ZOOM meetings and all the other ways we have been making connections, and building community in this difficult time. Those who are at risk are our first concern, yet we can still find a rainbow lining. MCC of El Paso celebrates all of June as a church season we call Pride-Tide. We have an impressive variety of online events to observe. We’d love for you to join us. All are welcome. We mean it!
By moving so much of our community activity online, we can be accessible to Queer folk and Allies around the world. Isolated siblings in hostile circumstances, if they have access to an internet device, can join us to be seen! to be loved, to learn, to exercise agency, and yes, to celebrate!
Brian Antonio Sieve, is the Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of El Paso.