Joys and Sorrows about Pride

On Thursday, June 8, members of Live Oak joined me at the Cedar Park city hall for their City Council Meeting, where there would be an official proclamation about LGBTQIA Pride Month in our area.

What should have been a fully joyful time was dimmed by the news that a young Black lesbian had been murdered just half a mile from Live Oak. The family of Akira Ross showed up to the City Council meeting to make a plea for love and safety in our area.

A week later, we attended the Leander City Council meeting, where they also did a proclamation about LGBTQIA Pride month. Unlike the one at Cedar Park, the attendance was so heavy, it was standing-room only. Also unlike Cedar Park, there was a handful of speakers articulating, often in hateful ways, their opposition to the Pride proclamation.

But there were more people supporting the proclamation, and the LGBTQIA+ community, than opposed – at least 3 for every 1 opposed. One supporter was Stephanie Reyes Rand. Her words were electric. We were prohibited from applauding, but a palpable wave of admiration went through the crowd. Afterward, I asked if I could share her words on social media. Other people clearly responded to Stephanie the same way we did, as the video is on its way to getting 1 million views:

I believe part of Live Oak’s role as a progressive religious community in our wider parish is to hold complex truths in tension. One of these truths is this: that our little corner of the world, encompassing parts of Williamson and Travis counties, is becoming more inclusive, more loving, and more welcoming to all of us who identify as LGBTQIA+. And we at Live Oak do not do this work alone. We have countless allies and accomplices in our area who are shoulder to shoulder with us, building the Beloved Community.

And the other, somber, truth is that there is still homophobia and transphobia in our world. There are still voices who use verses from the Bible out of context to justify their wish for a less inclusive world. And LGBTQIA+ individuals are still at risk of being harassed, attacked, and even killed.

To paraphrase poet Andrea Gibson, the world needs us now more than it ever has before.

There will be a vigil for Akira Ross at Live Oak on Sunday, July 2, at 6:30 pm.

Comments from Live Oak members at the Cedar Park and Leander city council meetings:

Rev. Joanna at CP city council

Katherine Enyart at CP city council

Rev. Joanna giving invocation at CP city council

Stephani Bercu at Leander city council

Stephanie Perdue at Leander city council