LGBTQ Flag Lowering Ceremony Speech
Thank you for inviting me to speak at this LGBTQ Flag Lowering Ceremony. I want to spend a few, short minutes sharing what it means to be “Rainbow Radiant” and why I believe the LGBTQ community is poised to become a bright, moral light that will make a positive difference in our country.
But first, how many of you know the song by Kermit the Frog — Rainbow Connection? If you do, I’d like if you’d sing the first line of the song with me: “Why are there so many songs about rainbows and what’s on the other side?”
Thank you! There is strength in numbers. It’s one thing to not sound great when you sing song by a pop star, it’s quite another when you’re being compared to a Muppet.
Why are there so many songs about rainbows? The answer — because everyone has a rainbow in their heart that arcs toward a dream they hope will become a reality.
As we come to the end of Pride Month, we stand before a radiant symbol of hope — our rainbow flag. It represents a dream that gay activists and advocates held in their hearts when they were discriminated against, beaten, and wrongly imprisoned because of their love for others. I’m sure there are those among us today that remember the days of Anita Bryant’s crusade against the gay community. Yet — here we are, standing beneath a symbol not only for gay men, but a symbol of inclusion for all whose gender and sexuality differ from the majority.
To those of you who struggled and suffered to get here — thank you. Your live has made a difference in our world, for me personally as a transgender person, and for the lives of all of us who are freely “out,” today. Welcome to the other side of that rainbow.
So what rainbows of hope does the LGBTQ community hold in its collective heart today? Certainly equality and dignity. Though much progress has been made, there is still much work to be done in overcoming discrimination in schools and bakeries and bathrooms and churches and workplaces. And, in the continued splintering of our nation into divisive factions on nearly every topic imaginable, we need to protect the rights we currently have.
But, I know that each of us has a personal rainbow dream, too. Mine is that the LGBTQ community will grow into a shining moral light of hope and love to those in need of help and healing. I don’t know how many people enter these hospital doors as victims of violence or abuse depression or diseases that waste away the body, but I suspect there are many.
It is my belief that the LGBTQ community has a special, empathetic connection to these patients. I believe this because collectively, we have shared similar sorrows. The good news is that we have also collectively strengthened so that we might shine in a beautiful, radiant, exciting, and FABULOUS way. If you’ve been to any large Pride Event — you know exactly what I mean!
I use the term Rainbow Radiance to describe this fabulous expression of LGBTQ love and joy. It is a Divine Light of love that shines through our hearts and our tears to create a brilliant rainbow of hope & healing and love & inclusion.
I believe Rainbow Radiance is more than just a Pride Month or Pride Event expression. I believe that it has substance. I believe that our Rainbow Radiance has the ability to shine a Light of Hope wherever there is darkness — opioid addiction, gun violence, or children being torn from their families to name but a few.
We can be the hands and words of comfort and hope in our country at a time when the political divides are growing as deep as canyons and when those who should’ve been our moral lights have dimmed or extinguished entirely.
Our flag expresses our Rainbow Radiance. While simply beautiful, each stripe has meaning. The red symbolizes life; the orange symbolizes healing. This is the work you do here at Chester County Hospital. You don’t do it only for the LGBTQ community, you do it for all who enter these doors.
But — two stripes do not make a rainbow, it takes all the colors, both bold and nuanced. This is true about the LGBTQ community and our families and allies and supporters, it takes all of us, united, to shine a Rainbow Radiance of love and healing and inclusion to a world that is quick to isolate and discard any single person who doesn’t fit the norm.
Right now, this flag is flying high above us. As is lowers, I ask that you might hold out an open palm as if to receive the last of its lowering colors and bring them close to your heart. In doing so, you’ll symbolize bringing the radiant love of a unique, colorful, and diverse people into your heart. For those of us who identify within the LGBTQ community, your hand is also receiving the tears and sorrows of our forebears and peers. You are bringing that mist of sadness close to the brightest light within you — your love — and thus shining with your personal Rainbow Radiance. Throughout this coming year and until this flag is flown again, our rainbow radiance must shine, and I believe will shine, whenever we see a heart that needs love or a body that needs healing.
Why are there so many songs about rainbows? Because everyone … EVERY one of us … has a rainbow of hope in our heart.
May you all shine Rainbow Radiantly.
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Presented on 6/29/2018 at the Chester County Hospital, West Chester, PA.