As we prepared for our “big launch” of our new #BOLAction tool on Facebook today, we discussed what would happen if another piece of anti-LGBT legislation came to the forefront of our movement right before the Supreme Court’s hearings on marriage equality. What would we prioritize? What would we say and do?
Regrettably, we didn’t discuss the more likely convergence—what happens if another black person is killed by the police?
Today, marriage equality will have its day at the Supreme Court, and this time, it is likely that we will achieve nation-wide marriage equality.
Today, my heart breaks for the friends and family of Freddie Gray, as well as those mourning in the Baltimore community, around the country, and around the world.
Freddie’s death is yet another brutal killing of black life at the hands of police. And as a white person, I know I am complicit in this system.
This morning, I was complicit in this system when I posted about marriage equality instead of those gathering in Baltimore demanding justice for Freddie Gray.
So what can we—and remember I’m talking to white LGBTQ Christians and allies—do?
I don’t have all the answers, but I will share with you some of the places I think we can start.
First, we can acknowledge the importance of standing up for racial justice. We can acknowledge that racial justice is LGBTQ justice, and these two movements are not and cannot be mutually exclusive. Separating our movements erases the lives of queer people of color, it sells us short, and it limits the depth of the liberation we can achieve.
Second, we can stand with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, joining protests across the country for Freddie Gray, for Mike Brown, Rekia Boyd, and Jessie Hernandez—for all the individuals who have been killed by police. We can show up, be present, and take leadership from people of color who are organizing for racial justice.
We can show up ready to help.
Third, we can challenge ourselves and our friends to look deeper than the narrative we’re presented in the media. Our media thrives on sensationalism—LGBTQ Christians know this all too well. So let’s remember that the images we see in the media are meant to sensationalize. They’re designed to create controversy, and more often than not, that controversy distracts from what’s really at stake.
As Christians, let’s challenge ourselves and our friends and families to remember where our values really lie. Let’s remember that the destruction of property will never be a greater tragedy than the loss of life. Let’s remember that we are people of faith who value justice and who value life.
And finally, let’s use the growing momentum around LGBTQ equality to fuel conversations around racial justice. Let’s remember that marriage equality is getting the day in court that has been denied to so many black and brown people who have been killed by the police. Let’s raise our voices for the liberation of people of color as well as the liberation of LGBTQ people.
Even now—I’m never confident in what I say about racial justice.
I always wonder if I’m the right messenger, and I worry I’ll say the wrong things. But I’ve learned from experience, from words unspoken, that my faith calls me to speak with courage even when I’m not sure what to say.
Because saying nothing certainly, most certainly, makes us complicit in the killings of black people in our streets.
Photo by Alison Amyx