Along the Way
Published June 2, This Week at Plymouth
by DeWayne L. Davis
A Renewed Commitment to Pride
Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis
“Human beings have the profound duty to intervene when someone else is being victimized, especially if that person asks them to”—Sarah Schulman, Ties That Bind
As Pride Month gets underway, for the first time in over 20 years, I am filled with anxiety about the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people. What started as cynical political maneuvering, using the wedge issue of gender and sexuality to organize a specific type of voter who is easily motivated to respond to culture war issues, has escalated into actionable threats to and targeting LGBTQ people, venues, and businesses supportive of their LGBTQ customers and employees. Recently, two men posted a video on social media that has since gone viral describing their attacks on Pride displays in Target stores in the Phoenix area and announcing their intent to “hunt” LGBTQ people and their allies during Pride Month. Target shocked its LGBTQ customers and their supporters by announcing that it was pulling Pride Month merchandise from its stores because of threats to its workers.
No, I am not surprised at the inevitable backlash that follows advances in civil and human rights for marginalized communities. However, I worry about the lack of urgency about the danger from those of us who, because of our distance from the immediate danger due to our status, income, and location, have a hard time believing that our opponents will resort to violence. After the passage of Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, I was waiting for the anti-gay political forces to lose steam or interest in targeting LGBTQ people as they turned their attention to electoral politics. But targeting LGBTQ people is part and parcel of their electoral politics, an organizing tool that keeps getting them support, especially at the possibility of doing violence.
That’s where we come in. God’s LGBTQ beloved, especially our trans children and siblings, are asking us to use our voices, power, and privilege to support and protect them. Our progress in civil and human rights for LGBTQ people does not mean our work is complete. And the best counter to backlash is a renewed commitment to the safety and well-being of those on the margins, letting the world know as loudly and publicly as those who are targeting and threatening our LGBTQ kin that we intend to see justice done. We will meet every threat and attack on LGBTQ people and spaces with love and justice. My heart soars, and my courage grows when I think about my forebears, Black and LGBTQ, who faced and overcame “inexpressible cruelty” so I can live and thrive. Because of that work of love and justice, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “the opposition we now face will surely fail.” It is our profound duty to make sure the opposition does fail and make every day a celebration of Pride for God’s LGBTQ beloved. May it be so.