|Image by Brett Jaspers, WSKG News|
I want to share my remarks on the occasion of Binghamton's Candlelight Vigil, held on Tuesday evening June 14.
For me, the most moving part of the evening was the sight of perhaps thirty members of our local mosque, the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier, filing onto the stage in a show of solidarity.
Or maybe it was the silence when the candles were lit, soon to be broken by "We Shall Overcome".
Or the sight of lanterns gently lifting off.
This was an event in which we refused to be divided from one another, vulnerable communities-- Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.
I was so very proud to be a part of it.
My name is Patricia Raube, and I’m the pastor of Union Presbyterian Church in Endicott, a congregation that loved me right out of the closet in 2009. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been intentionally ordaining LGBTQ people since 2011, and allowing its pastors and churches to celebrate the weddings of all people since 2014.
Because I’m up early on Sunday mornings, I read about the shooting at 6:30, when the news was “20 casualties.” By the time church was over, the whole country knew that there were 49 murdered, and 50-plus in the care of hospitals.
And we want to know why, and we, some of us, are quick to say why,
even before we really truly know.
But the one thing no one can challenge, the one thing we must agree upon, is that this was an attack whose targets were members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community, as well as the Latino/ Latina community. Queer people and people of color bore the brunt of this act of hate, no matter what impulses or beliefs inspired it. It was an act of homophobia and perhaps racism. No matter what we learn about the motivations of the killer, we must not erase the identities of those whose lives he took.
This was an attack on the queer community and its allies.
But this was also an attack on our safe spaces, our sanctuaries. Many of us in the churches have not done nearly enough to make our congregations the safe spaces they should be, to make our sanctuaries, sanctuary to the LGBTQ community. So our queer community has found sanctuary elsewhere—in places like Binghamton’s own Herizon, and Merlin’s, and Squiggy’s, and Orlando’s Pulse. And now—for so many of us—these sanctuaries have been violated. These sanctuaries are haunted by this terrible act of hatred. These sanctuaries, for some of us, have ceased to be those holy spaces of safety and love.
So where do we go from here?
In one sense, we do what we always have done. We continue to find families of choice, and safe spaces, together. We hallow new grounds and rooms and clubs, and make them our sanctuaries and, perhaps, we re-dedicate and re-sanctify the old spaces with new fervor and intention.
At the same time, for you, for me, for each of us: I offer you what my faith tells me to be true: that Love, a love greater than any of us is capable of on our own, created us, each of us, and made us mysterious, and beautiful and perfect, just as we are. I offer you what I believe with all my heart: that our love and our bodies and our lovemaking are precious, good, and sacred. I offer you what each of us must cling to: that our goodness and our holiness cannot and will not be diminished or erased, no matter who tries to hunt us down, or keep us out of our preferred bathrooms, or in any way legislate us out of existence.
We exist. You, and I, and each person dancing their heart out in their sanctuary of choice. Those whose names we will say tonight, and those who are still dancing cannot and will not be diminished, or forgotten, or erased. Just as it has before: Love will win.
|Image from WICZ News|