Susquehanna Morning

Susquehanna Morning

Monday, June 3, 2019

Pride in the Face of Death

Yesterday a wonderful local friend posted something on Facebook that made my blood freeze in my veins--a screenshot of the following statement from a man in Watertown, NY:

Watertown is having
celebration. For the
love of God please
let someone go on a 
mass shooting.

The man's name is unusual enough that he was easy to find through the FB search engine. I spent about 10 minutes scrolling down his page, by which time, many LGBTQIA+ folks were already on the scene, trying, alternately, to reason with him, to infuriate him (by posting lots of rainbows and gifs of same gender people kissing one another), and just generally saying, You are a messed up human.

He responded defiantly, invoking Jesus (who, he believes, will show his LGBTQ appreciation through a gay-killing inferno on Judgement Day), and posting meme after meme about how he was waiting for the police to come to his door as a result of the original post (which, to be clear, had been removed by this time-- though, as I said, plenty of folks seem to have taken screenshots of it). 

And, yeah, more information having come out (heh) about the guy, it sounds like he's had a hard-knock life and responded with a lot of anger and at least some light arson. 

But, if I may, the attitude of this man-- that the world would be better if LGBTQ people were massacred-- is pretty much why Pride celebrations exist: in the face of threats of death, at some point, lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer folks, everyone in that alphabet soup that keeps expanding as people tell their truth... in the face of death threats, we say: but we, too, are entitled to our lives.

So, we have Pride.

The threats aren't always literally about death (though, for some, that is increasingly the case-- most notably our trans sibs, who are murdered at the highest rate of all of us, trans women of color especially).

Sometimes it is the death of the soul that is threatened--when families reject us, and tell us we are no longer welcome.

When churches say, "You are not right-- you sin in a way that is worse than any and every other sin."

Sometimes the threat is directed at our livelihoods... as is the case right now, as the current administration strips these protections from us, one at a time, a relentless assault on our dignity and personhood. For a full and detailed account of all the actions taken against us, I recommend this Twitter thread from Charlotte Clymer. Seeing it all together is sobering, terrifying-- a reminder that our lives, at least for this administration, do not count, do not matter, and are simply something to use to gain points with people filled with hate.

In the end, there's not a lot of difference between the guy in Watertown and a religious leader who tells their congregation that being gay is the worst kind of sin.

So, we have Pride.

We raise flags with rainbows on them-- the rainbow, in the bible, a symbol of a covenant of love and faithfulness. And we wear rainbow t-shirts, and jewelry, and kerchiefs, and baseball caps, because there just aren't enough rainbows in this world.

We have parades in which we show our most vibrant, joy-filled selves to the world.

We have festivals. This year, our local Pride Palooza will feature (among other things such as food, trucks, craft vendors, a kids' area, and a drag show) a table where attendees can get "Mom-hugs." Because, if you're gay, or bi, or trans, or queer, it's not a given that your own mom wants to hug you any more.

And so, we have Pride. We have a place where the message is: You are loved. You are worthy. You are welcome. Come and have some cotton candy and a hug. Come and know you are at home here, at least.

And to those who wonder why we don't have Straight Pride, here's what I say:

When people want to kill you just because of who you are and who you love, I'll come to your Pride event.

Until then, please respect and at least try to understand ours.

Image from Saturday's Binghamton Flag-Raising, borrowed-- with gratitude!-- from Patti Loves Bing.


  1. Sending out love and rainbows to you and all the LGBTQ+ sibs.

  2. I enjoyed meeting you long time ago with our children riding at a local horse stable, Rachel. I've followed your words on FB and for a time when you were at Northminster. I always find comfort in your biblical interpretations and compassion for people on this Earth, no matter what race, religion, sexual orientation. Your statement is eloquent and shows your strong faith in words. May I repost? And as a side, note, I hope someone reported this individual to local police because as we are finding not all violent statements are just idle threats but actual events.