While enemies of the LGBT community would use our differences to divide us, we must make our differences our greatest strengths
Each year, as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community gather at the corner of Wycliff and Cedar Springs for the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, I am struck by the vast diversity of our community.
Represented in our parade are people from all walks of life, ethnicities and nationalities:
Among us are those who like to party and those who like to pray, those who work for justice and those who work to make ends meet. Among us are the reserved and the fa-bu-lous.
We welcome our city leaders and those who march with us in solidarity as our family and friends. As we gather, the excitement and energy born of that diversity is infectious.
Our diversity does not stop at the parade. As LGBT people, we collectively have changed the image of Dallas by our diverse presence on councils, in courtrooms, in business, in churches and in schools. It is striking, I think, to note that in the information listings of today’s Dallas Voice, there are more than 50 religious and spiritual organizations representing a myriad of faith traditions and denominations.
Of course, as is often the case, our greatest gift is often our greatest challenge.
Because we are a diverse population, we hold a variety of values and beliefs. We have a vast array of needs and hopes. As we face challenges to our human rights, and as we seek to establish our legitimate roles in the greater society, we often find that we are at odds, even among ourselves.
We continue to face growing challenges to our rights as LGBT people: our right to adopt children, our right to inheritance and our right to basic legal protections. The voice of fundamentalism continues to define, for the greater public, who we as LGBT people are, our worth to society, and our equality as full citizens of our nation and world.
Because of our diversity, the challenge for us is that we have a penchant toward “fighting amongst ourselves,” and those with power and money know that the best way to defeat others is to divide in order to conquer. Truly, if we as LGBT people Anglo, African-American, Latino, Latina, Asian, young, old, rich, poor, able, disabled, Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Wiccan, agnostic and atheist cannot find common ground, none of us will ever experience the full equality, respect and civil liberties that are our birthrights, and our very spirits will be diminished.
The man whom Christians know as the Apostle Paul wrote to a very diverse population of early Christian churches, including the church at Galatia, to whom he said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) I don’t think he was asking those early Christians to forget their individual uniqueness; rather he was inviting them to realize that their commonalities as children of God were greater than the differences that could divide them.
At the Cathedral of Hope, we share an understanding with people of other churches, denominations and faiths, and even those of no faith, that our very future as LGBT people, and the future of our world, may depend on our ability to talk with one another, honoring our differences and our diversity, while striving to find ways to work together to bring about equal rights, justice for all and peace for our world.
Our congregation, with the help of many others who share our vision, will build an Interfaith Peace Chapel with the hopes of sparking this kind of conversation among diverse people.
It is our hope that, as we provide a place of peace, we will find ways to not only live together in peace, but also to create a community where the equal rights of all are honored. Paul encouraged all of us in this effort when he wrote to the church at Ephesus, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)
I can think of no group of people better suited to lead the way in bringing people of diverse views and diverse lives into a common conversation than the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of Dallas. After all, every September we set aside our differences to walk together in unity, celebrating our unique gifts as LGBT people, and our freedom to be genuinely who we are.
Perhaps we can learn from walking together in a parade how to walk together in the unity of the Spirit, that all might have equality of life and live in peace. It may well be our highest spiritual calling.
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson is rector and senior pastor of the Cathedral of Hope.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 14, 2007