Reflection: Why we march

On Saturday, June 28, 1969, six policemen arrived at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village, and loudly announced the start of a raid. The people who were at Stonewall Inn that night weren’t just gay and lesbian; they were the most marginalized people from within the gay community. They were drag queens, homeless queer youth, people labeled as effeminate and transgender people. They were people who were rejected from "polite" gay society, rejected by their families and rejected by their churches. Stonewall was their safe place.  

On that night in 1969, this group of the most marginalized people from within a marginalized group fought back. There was a riot in Greenwich Village that night that continued off and on for the next several days. 

While the rioting did eventually stop, the energy that was created on that night never has. The very next year, in 1970, a group of activists organized a march to commemorate the events that happened at Stonewall the year before and it started a tradition that quickly spread across the country and eventually across the world. Today gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies across the world gather together and take part in what has become known as Pride Parades. 

On June 13 a group of people from across the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts will participate in the Boston Pride Parade.  We’ll be marching to remember what happened that night in 1969 and we’ll be marching to make a statement that there is still so much work to be done.

Forty percent of the homeless youth in this country identify as LGBTQ. Transgender women, and especially transgender women of color, are frequently the victims of murder and assault. Harassment and discrimination against the feminine gay person is still all too common--both inside and outside the gay community. The queer folks of Stonewall Inn are still there with us today and they still need us to march.

As Christians we follow a God who came to earth and hung out with some of the most oppressed and marginalized people in his society. We worship a God who called people into wholeness by telling them they were loved and by starting a movement to create communities where everyone would be accepted and embraced. I like to think that if Jesus were alive on earth today he would show up at a Pride Parade as a way to bear witness to the beauty and diversity in all of God’s creation and as a way to extend radical hospitality to all of God’s children. Most importantly, I think Jesus would show up to let LGBTQ people and their allies know that they are loved. 

--Nathan Belyeu 

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