For the last several years I have said and thought “Gay Pride” had really lost it’s punch.  It was no longer a large political, social and spiritual gathering bringing together hundred’s of thousands of queer folk to stand in solidarity for a common cause.

In fact over the last several years it seemed to me “Pride” had become simply a major street party and a vendor’s dream come true.  When the decision was made in Atlanta to move “Pride” from June and the rest of the country to October well I thought if it is going to be a party at least the weather is better!

Then much like in the “Godfather” movies in step the religious and political right.  Just when the community seems to making incredible progress on the road to equality the heat from the right gets turned way up.

We begin to see headlines and tragedy from several parts of the country:

  • Minneapolis Archbishop Withholds Communion from Gay Activists.
  • Last month Catholic churches in Minnesota mailed about 400,000 anti-gay DVDs to Catholics in the state as part of a push to amend the Minnesota constitution so as to legally bar gay and lesbian families from accessing marriage rights.
  • Bishop Eddie Long is sued by four young men and the media (main-stream) turns the story into something that reads like what the “right” has said for years: “homosexuals are predators after your children.”
  • A staffer from a US Senator’s office thinks it is ok to publicly say: “All faggots must die.”
  • 60 plus people are thrown to the floor in a gay bar in Atlanta in a raid style we have not seen since the 1960’s.
  • Early this year some TV want to be star makes headlines which say, “Joe Rogan Explains Why Gay Slurs Aren’t Anti-Gay.”
  • The US Congress says it is ok to be LGBTQ and die for your country, you just can’t say you are LGBTQ.
  • A young man in Savannah Georgia is beaten senseless by two marines because one of the marines thought the young man winked at him. Of course the charges are reduced to misdemeanor offenses.
  • A gay pastor and his partner are assaulted as they have a picnic together in a park.
  • A judge thought it was perfectly all right to tell a male to female trans person in a letter for the record, “You have explained to me you consider yourself a trans-gendered person, that you are taking hormones and that you have breasts.  However, until you are no longer considered legally to be a male or until you provide competent medical evidence that not dressing as a women presents serious risk to your health, you must not dress as a women for **** court.”

Then we have this little summary from the Out at Emory list serve at Emory University:

  • Eleven-year-old Tyler Wilson of Findlay, Ohio, whose arm was broken by two boys because he joined the cheering team on August 31st;
  • Fifteen-year-old Billy (William) Lucas of Greensburg, Indiana, who was found dead on September 9th in a barn at his grandmother’s home after taking his own life. Friend and classmate Nick Hughes said that he was tormented for years because of accusations of being gay;
  • Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old Rutgers University student, who took his own life on September 22nd after his roommate secretly filmed him during a “sexual encounter” with another male in his dorm room and posted it live on the Internet.
  • Thirteen-year-old Asher Brown who killed himself September 23rd after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students in Houston, Texas.
  • A University of Wisconsin at Whitewater student assaulted on September 26th after she was called “faggot” for wearing a “Legalize Gay” t-shirt.
  • Thirteen-year-old Seth Walsh of Bakersfield, California who died September 28th after nine days on life support after he attempted suicide. He was continuously bullied for being gay;
  • Raymond Chase, a 19-year-old openly gay student at Johnson & Wales University commit suicide on September 29th;
  • Chris Armstrong, the openly gay Student Government Association President at the University of Michigan attacked by the Assistant Attorney General of Michigan, Andrew Shirvell. Shirvell created a blog about Armstrong, calling him “Satan’s representative on the student assembly” because of his work to create gender-neutral student housing.

Let us not forget our sisters and brothers in the Transgender community continue to be slaughtered as well:

  • Grief and Outrage Over Transgender Murder in Puerto Rico
  • Paulina Ibarra was found dead on the floor of her apartment at 939 N. Mariposa Ave. around 8 p.m. Aug. 28, and police are looking for 24-year-old Jesus Catalan.
  • Neighborhood Safety Issues Raised After Transgender Murder
  • Mariah Malina Qualls Location: San Francisco, California Cause of Death: Blunt force trauma to the head.
  • Myra Chanel Ical Location: Houston, Texas Cause of Death: Many wounds and defensive bruises.
  • Amanda Gonzalez-Andujar Location: Queens, New York Cause of Death: Strangled
  • Toni Alston Location: Charlotte, North Carolina Cause of Death: shot to death
  • Chanel (Dana A. Larkin) Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Cause of Death: Shot in the head
  • Sandy Woulard Location: Chicago, Illinois Cause of Death: Shot in the chest
  • Roy Antonio Jones III  Location: Southampton, NY Cause of Death: Punched repeatedly and grabbed by the neck
  • Victoria Carmen White Location Newark, New Jersey Cause of Death shot

All of this continues to happen because the religious and political right has decided the LGBTQ community is the equine-fecal matter of the earth and spend vast sums of money and hysterical propaganda to prove it.  The religious right laments we are the abomination of God and continue to use all of its resources to wage war against us.

So it goes anything that is done to the LGBTQ community is fair game, justice only matters if you are not LGBTQ. Equal rights are for anyone except those who are LGBTQ. Common decency and respect for one’s neighbor is for everyone except those of the LGBTQ community.

We are discussed by the political powers as if we are not in the room and it is costing our community dearly.  We are paying with our lives, our health and well being. (I have news for those who do that-we will be in the room this weekend.)

There are those who say we need to be more patient, polite and less confrontational. Really?  Have they read these lists?  If this were their little kingdom being intruded upon in this manner, they would declare war on somebody.

About a year ago I wrote a blog where I signed on with Bishop Sponge and a manifesto which I said I agreed with: and that needs to be said again.  For the sake of space here is the URL: http://reverendbitchsir.blogspot.com/2009/12/time-has-come.html.

So yes, the religious and political right has succeeded in making this year Pride is extremely important maybe more so than in it’s previous 39 years and leaving me saying: “”Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

So yes “Gay Pride Atlanta” is more than a street party, it is more than merchant’s selling their stuff.  It is more than the Politian’s showing up to get our votes.  It is more than photo ops for star wanna be’s, it is more than folks dressed in everything from barely legal to wildly entertaining.  It is more than the special entertainers, more than a “marriage ceremony”, more than the dyke parade or the march on Sunday.

For it is all of these things together for which 300,000 LGBTQ’s and their allies will come to Atlanta. Pride this year and every year is about not letting the religious and political right control and direct the national conversation.  It is saying in very clear terms: as we gather this weekend, “you have tried to legislate us out of existence, you have viciously beat us, you have denied us basic human rights, you have fired us, you have denied us housing, you have denied us our children, you have stood in the way of hospital visits, you have even killed us…but “We’re still here. We’re still queer. So please get used to it.”  Therefore today I say to those who seek to do us harm if they have a problem with our sexual orientation, gender identity or theology, God bless you and may they get over themselves soon. Let the party begin!

 


Rev. Paul M. Turner is the Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta. For more information, please visit www.gentlespirit.org or e-mail info@gentlespirit.org.

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