The Exodus after Stonewall
The exodus from Egypt is the central event of the Hebrew Bible. Even when the people of Israel are taken away as captives in Babylon generations later, they looked back to their freedom from slavery in Egypt as a sign of hope that God would again be faithful and release them from bondage. The exodus is the event the writers of the New Testament looked to as well in describing what freedom in Christ was all about. We too have been brought out of the bondage of sin and have become part of God's new creation.
It is no wonder then that when Christians have experienced all sorts of oppression, we too use the language of exodus to fuel our desire for liberation and our work for justice. This was true of the experience of people held in slavery in our nation. It was true of the struggle for freedom in South Africa.
It also has been true for LGBTQ Christians. The movement that began as a protest outside a neighborhood bar called the Stonewall Inn in New York's Greenwich Village fifty years ago this month has become a global phenomenon, celebrated as WorldPride, looking back to the Stonewall Rebellion—what we Christians might call an exodus event.
LGBTQ people lived in the shadows and in fear of being "found out," prior to the liberation movement that took off in 1969, although there had been a growing movement prior to Stonewall. In the last fifty years amazing changes have occurred in our society and in the church, changes that those early Stonewall rebels could hardly have dreamed of. Now marriage equality is the law of the land. A gay, married Episcopal Bishop is being consecrated this Saturday in Maine. A gay, married man is a serious contender as a candidate for President of the United States. A lot has changed in fifty years.
And yet we still know that prejudice and hate exist in our society. Judgement and homophobia still raise their heads in many places around the world. To be "found out" to be gay, lesbian or transgender in many nations is still a crime often resulting in severe punishment and imprisonment. So as Christians, the biblical experience of exodus still must be the place we look to for hope. "We've come this far by faith," as the song says. "God hasn't failed us yet."
Here at St. John's we too will participate in the WorldPride celebration on Sunday June 30. The Rev. Christopher Montello, head of the Diocesan LGBTQ ministry (called GLEAM) will be our guest preacher. We welcome the Los Angeles Trans Chorus to provide inspiring song and together we will celebrate the movement toward liberation, justice, and inclusion of all God's children. We invite you to be with us at St. John's, at 11:00 a.m. on June 30. Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community or an ally, we all need to remember that the struggle for liberation is one, and we need to stand in solidarity. God's dream for the world is an invitation for all of us to live as we are created to be. Together let's follow our risen Lord to the liberation of the new creation as God's beloved children.