Since I heard about the horrific mass shooting of LGBTQIA individuals and allies – most of whom were persons of color – in Orlando at the Pulse gay nightclub – a place of sanctuary for many – during the Latin night on Sunday, I have been at a loss for words. What I do know is that I am angry and that my heart aches for all of the beautiful children of God whose lives were so hatefully taken from them. My heart aches for the families and friends who grieve their tremendous loss. My heart aches for those whose safe-haven has now become a place that’s unstable and full of fear. My heart aches for those who witnessed this horrendous act and will never be the same again. And my heart aches for all of my LGBTQIA siblings and LGBTQIA siblings of color who fear being targets of hate and violence because of who they are.
Though I still can’t seem to find the words, what I do want to say is this:
To my fellow Christian brothers, sisters, siblings: we cannot remain silent anymore. Beloved children of God are being targeted, bullied, demonized, kicked out of their homes, and even killed because of who they are. The demonizing is so great that many of our LGBTQIA children, youth, and siblings have taken their own lives. And it is many of our own institutions that have created such systems of “othering” and that contribute to and encourage the demonizing of these beloved children of God.
Jesus is weeping.
We can no longer be silent, for silence is an act of complicity. We MUST put an end to this now!
To my Muslim brothers, sisters, siblings: I see you. And I am so deeply sorry that your faith continues to be blamed for horrendous violent acts such as this. There are extremists who do horrific acts of violence in the name of all religions. My prayer is that we do not allow these extremists – who hijack our faiths and try to claim them in order to justify their hate – to win. We cannot allow our fears to drive us apart. We are better together. I stand with you and I will continue to work to end Islamaphobia and to fight for equality.
To my LGBTQIA sisters, brothers, siblings, friends, colleagues, professors, parishioners, and youth, children, and their families:
You are beloved. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. God loves you just the way you are, and so do I!
I am so deeply sorry for the pain and fear you are experiencing right now. I am so sorry for the times you have remained invisible to many in this world and in the Church.
I want you to know that I see you. I see the beautiful imago dei – the image of God – that God marked you with before you even left your mother’s womb.
I am so sorry for the times when I fail to see and to speak up, when I go back to the comforts of my many privileges and forget, and when I continue to contribute to the systems that oppress.
I want you to know I will continue to commit to fighting against the many forms of LGBTQIA-phobias and for LGBTQIA equality both in our larger society and in the Church.
I weep with you. I grieve with you. I stand with you.
With much love and a heavy heavy heart,
Let us remember and honor the victims of the Pulse shooting and all victims of hate crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity, color of skin, country of origin, mental or physical ability/needs, or religion.