A single mother struggles with three jobs to provide for her children, one of them a transgender high school senior looking forward to a good college education.

A lesbian undocumented immigrant is happy that her marriage to a US citizen would pave the way to legalize her immigration status, but worries about her siblings who might be deported if comprehensive immigration reform does not happen.

We’ve heard it before: a gay man is fired from work after his same-sex wedding because there are no non-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ persons from being fired or evicted for being queer in his state.

A queer person-of-color is bullied or shot dead because or homophobia and/or racist hate.

Countless homeless youth are LGBTQ – thrown out of their homes after coming out.

Our queer identities are embodied, and so are the intersections of oppression.

As LGBTQ persons, we also need a job, an affordable roof over our heads, food to sustain us, quality education, and excellent health care. We are also people of color, immigrants, women, youth and children – oftentimes seen as mere statistics on a graph competing with the levels of oppression and injustice we face everyday. Our allies need to realize that we are all part of an interconnected web of solidarity that need to be expressed beyond the usual staple of advocacies for same-sex marriage and open ordination in our churches.

If you love the LGBTQ community unconditionally, you need to love our whole identity, not just a piece of us because its trendy.

As I did my farmers’ market shopping in downtown San Francisco this past week, I saw janitors and fast food workers picketing, demanding a $15 wage increase and a union – to have an organized voice on the job. Many of these low-wage workers across the country are either LGBTQ persons or have LGBTQ friends and loved ones. Their tax rate is higher than the CEOs who receive wages over 300% higher than these workers. Their struggle against economic inequality is not only righteous, but is inextricably linked to their queer bodies and relationships.

Where do we stand on economic justice as a Reconciling movement? Is our witness unyielding?

The Obama administration – hailed as a champion of the LGBTQ community – has deported more undocumented immigrants than George W. Bush. Transgressing norms and crossing borders is not something foreign to queer persons, for our embodied identities are fluid, crossing society’s gender and sexuality borders all the
time. Immigrants – again many are LGBTQ and have loved ones and friends who are LGBTQ – cross physical borders so they could provide a better life for themselves and their families. The economic system that puts profits before people – seen through free trade agreements – is harmful to them and their home countries, hence they are economic refugees who we should extend radical hospitality to, the same way we fervently lobby our political and church leaders for equal treatment for the LGBTQ community.

Where do we stand on immigrant rights as a Reconciling movement? Is our witness unblemished?

Passing for straight is probably easy for some, but not applicable to people of color discriminated by a racially prejudiced society. You can’t hide the color of your skin or its hard to pretend you don’t have an accent when you speak English as a second language. When I first came to the United States, I was made to check boxes: am I Asian or Pacific Islander? That’s when I realized I was in a different culture, a different world.

We are so racially segregated in American society in many ways, yet the lines of racist oppression seems blurred when justice needs to be applied when police murder black persons. There are claims we are a post-racial society after the election of a black president, but that is so far from the truth given the killing of many black men and women, including transgender people of color. Heterosexism and racism are intertwined by patriarchy – the notion that one’s sexual orientation, economic class, gender, and race is better than others.

Where do we stand on racism as a Reconciling movement? Is our witness without doubt?

Let us make sure we are connecting the dots, because breaking the chains of oppression for one group of people should be connected with the liberation of others. Yes, injustice stews and grinds at the intersections of oppression, and the Reconciling movement is called to stand by ALL who are crying out for their lives..

Rev. Izzy Alvaran

Israel I. Alvaran is an ordained Elder in the Philippines Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has served in various ministry settings as pastor, youth minister and faculty at a UMC university and seminary in the Philippines. He is currently under episcopal appointment to serve as an organizer with Reconciling Ministries Network. A long-time activist, Israel worked as Person-in-Mission of the UMC General Board of Global Ministries for the Manila Episcopal Area, focusing on advocacy for low-wage workers. For a number of years, he was a community outreach organizer for UNITE HERE Local 2 (the hotel workers union) and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice of California. Prior to joining RMN, he served as national organizer for economic justice with the UMC General Board of Church and Society. A political asylee from the Philippines, Israel lives in San Francisco, CA and is immersed in the life of his community. Until recently, he was an officer and board member of San Francisco Pride at Work, an organization committed to LGBTQI rights in the workplace. He is on the Activist Committee of the Jobs with Justice chapter in San Francisco. Israel has a Masters of Divinity degree and a Masters of Theology degree from Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines. With a dissertation focused on faith-rooted organizing, he received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA in 2010 as a recipient of the UMC Crusade Scholarship. When not in the thick of rallies and picket lines, Israel loves to cook and bake for friends, and spends quality time with his adorable dog Waui Kush.

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