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Pride essay: Time to work toward a just world

by Jane Spahr

The Reverend Dr. Jane Spahr. Photo: Rick Gerharter
The Reverend Dr. Jane Spahr. Photo: Rick Gerharter  

[Editor's note: Jane Spahr wrote this in April for San Francisco Pride.]

It is such an honor and joy to have been voted as community grand marshal in this 50th year of LGBTQAI+ Pride. What a historical moment for us as we celebrate 50 years of working toward our freedom.

This year is a challenging one once again. This year continues to be very difficult for our whole world as we face together this pandemic.

Our community has faced adversity and grief through the AIDS epidemic/pandemic and understands about loss of life and the need for adequate and specific health care to be in place. We understand discrimination and the need for equity in making sure that communities less advantaged due to systemic racism, sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, ageism are especially lifted up and find the care that is so desperately needed.

Our Pride march defies the myths and stereotypes that have promoted hatred and violence. Our parade is one of being counted — that we are here, queer, and visible. We have defined ourselves and taken back our lives. We are everywhere in this world — multiracial and multiethnic. We are made up of huge diverse communities who are struggling with all the power dynamics, isms and inequities that face our world. Pride brings us together to experience that diversity and to celebrate all of who we are.

In a more normal year, Pride brings people from all over the world to our city where every contingent speaks out loud of who we are. This year, that will take place online during SF Pride's virtual programming. San Francisco under the rainbow flag lights up a rainbow City Hall and for that day we feel community. We feel our oneness. Our "closets" are emptied. Many of our families, friends, and allies celebrate and have marched with us. We are ecstatic with happiness knowing and feeling our Yes! when so many of us have heard no. Our love continues to survive hatred and fear. Our Pride parade gives us voice, gives us hope, gives us joy. It says — We are here to stay, to be our full selves. The affirmation of who we are resounds throughout the streets of our great city.

This year we will have to hear and feel the Yes from deep inside our bones. We will not be marching as in years past even as we did during the AIDS crisis. This year will be very different. We understand about disease, sickness, and death. We too understand we can make our way through this virus. Now we are and can help to change access for others and work for equity and equality. We are and will be a part of creating policies that lift up those who are down — for we know this first hand.

This 50th year is another year of change as we work together toward a just, healing, and hope-filled world. Let us continue to fly our rainbow flags and celebrate who we are in different ways and virtually hold each other through our work for justice and love.

Pride continues this year not in a parade but in our very beings. May we be a part of creating a new June day of love, justice, healing hope and peace in a world that needs us as caregivers, as caredoers, and carelovers. Yes, this great queer community — the earth and folks in it — need our care and our love more than ever. We are here to help and do the work so we ALL ARE FREE-- so we can ALL celebrate our freedom together.

See you next year! In the meantime, be well, be safe, and celebrate in place.

The Reverend Dr. Jane Spahr is a lesbian and retired Presbyterian minister. She was publicly rebuked by the Presbyterian Church USA for performing same-sex marriages and convicted by the church's highest court in 2010 following a widely publicized church trial.

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