For the 2015 Northern Virginia Pride Interfaith Service, I was asked to speak on what commitment to LGBTQ equality means to me. I was struck especially by what commitment to the struggle will look like in a post-Obergefell context. Below is my reflection.
As soon as I heard my phone start buzzing in my pocket, I knew that I had missed it. Sitting in another work meeting on that June day, my phone continued to buzz. With each vibration, my patience grew shorter. Finally, like a good Millennial, I anxiously a checked my phone.
“I apologize,” I said, “But I have to excuse myself.”
Following the advice of a lawyer friend, I was certain that the marriage equality decision wouldn’t be handed down that day. He was wrong. I had missed it.
And so, I left work and I ran. I ran toward the Supreme Court building as quickly as I could in dress clothes and loafers. I cheered with fellow celebrators along the way. I high-fived a few drag queens. I called my mother; we both cried together. I kept running.
When I got to the steps of the Supreme Court building, I found friends gathering in a circle. With Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans we celebrated the ancient Christian ritual—sharing bread and cup with one another—and we sang and prayed and savored that moment.
And as quickly as I had gotten there, it was over. The circle broke apart. We each went back to our home or school or work. My heart was still pounding. The adrenaline was still raging. The sweat was gathering on my forehead.
And I wondered, “What’s next?”
June Jordan writes, “When we get the monsters off our backs all of us may want to run in very different directions … [T]he ultimate connection cannot be the enemy,” she says. “The ultimate connection must be the need that we find between us.”
As the reality of marriage equality begins to sink in and celebrations fade and those sacred circles of joy and community that have held us for so long begin to break apart, I have a question and a fear: What’s next?
No, I am not worried about our ability to gather around the next “issue.” I am not worried about our ability to name the many areas in which LGBTQ equality is yet to be realized.
My fear is that we will still mistakenly think that the point of the connection is the “issue” itself.
For me, commitment to the long road for queer equality is based in the connection we find between each of us. It is the friendships that will hold us when the ruling is not in our favor, when we have yet-again failed a part of our community, when the future seems uncertain. For me, commitment to the long struggle means intentional relationship building right here and now.
June Jordan finishes her essay by retelling the story of two women from seemingly different social locations. She writes, “I walked behind them, the young Irish woman and the young South African, and I saw them walking as sisters walk, hugging each other, and whispering and sure of each other and I felt how it was not who they were but what they both know and what they were both preparing to do about what they know that was going to make them both free at last.”
That is my prayer for us, that we might walk as sisters walk.
I pray that we might go beyond “the next issue”—and turn to each other instead.
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