Reckless God Talk: Who Dares to Love?
by Keshia Pendigrast
One in Four Homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
As we navigate the depths of systemic hate, our Love must be nothing short of revolutionary. In fact, that is the very ethic the Bible conveys. Through eons of trauma and humiliation, Love comes, in spite. God Loves us, in spite. God creates us, in spite.
So what does this have to do with Holy Week? What do queer communities of color have to contribute to this movement to unabashedly claim #BlackLivesMatter ?
Last week, I watched the Melissa Harris Perry Show. It is one of my favorite shows, because it bothers to attempt nuance and debate and sometimes, dares to be controversial. But there is something about the religious right that struck me this time. When we talk about Ted Cruz, when we watch Indiana’s political manifestations in horror, when we become desensitized to the rising number of queer homeless youth, one thing should be clear: the religious right has almost completely and successfully cloaked its movements of hate by unabashedly claiming the Will of God.
Systemic homophobia is not simply a result of people being freaked out by love that looks different. The violence it allows is not simply because people have not evolved to understand its presence in all kinds of species outside humanity. The terrifying reality behind most of our queer childhoods stems from the memory of understanding that God condemned our very existence. How many families do you know that hate their queer children, out of “love?” Because they thought the Bible told them so? How many families participated in traumatizing their children out of yearning for them to go to Heaven? How many of us have had to sink in the understanding that our very existence might be immoral?
Somehow, in the name of love, our parents were convinced to hate us.
And yet, through millenniums of hate and lies, those who have claimed God use the existence of queer folk as evidence of evil. As our history continues to be violent, and we in turn are violently erased from the histories of our people, as entire national political movements surge to make our love illegal… WE engage the Divine and pursue love in the most revolutionary ways — in spite of what this tide of reckless God talk brings.
So tell me, when do we get to claim God? When do queer people of color get to say we Believe without being looked at sideways? And isn’t everything short of claiming the Divine as the source energy in our veins, that which enables us to fight to love — reckless?
When ‘liberal’ religious leaders and thinkers sat around that table last week on the MHP show, and all they had to say in response to Indiana was “The Bible is clear, Love thy neighbor”: they participated as recklessly in this talk about God as the Religious Right. As the religious left, we can no longer shy away from God. Too many families are in danger. Too many children are out on the streets. We have no time for this reckless God talk. We MUST dig deeper and claim the passionate narratives of radical love that seep through the Bible. If we focus on the hate within its pages, we have simply missed the point.
How do we as queer souls in brown bodies find courage to have the audacity to claim God? How do we navigate the lies that are told by white queer communities, that people of color are innately more homophobic? How do we talk about the deep racist history of the Christian church and simultaneously claim the way we love?
We must go deeper.
In my brief interaction with humanity on this earth, I have not found that heart fluttering freedom within the confines of listening to a white man tell me about his Zeus-like-God. Instead, my encounters with the Divine are potent in witnessing beautiful courageous whispers of the poetic existences that queer people of color seem to lead. The audacity to be both brown and queer can only be explained by a Divinely sourced courage. We understand the nuances of protection from a racist society that our families want for us and simultaneously navigate the learned understanding of our queer love as a threat to that protection. Our identity is too volatile to be protected. So can we find the strength to exist? Is it not reckless to claim God as our source, and the vessels in which we experience this earth proof of the ethic that Jesus also claims? In spite of historically systemic attempts to eradicate brown AND simultaneously queer communities of love, we exist and thrive in spite. Isn’t that the narrative of resurrection?
This year I am radically reclaiming Holy Week. It is not a quaint little celebration because Jesus died on the Cross for me. That is lazy. That is too convenient. And that lets me off the hook. A system killed Jesus — for daring to love radically. He was a brown man that navigated this world outside the heteronormative vehicles of marrying a woman to procreate and was killed under a white empire. It is time to remind the reckless that our love is revolutionary in spite of their hate. That our love is DIVINE in spite. That we get to claim God, because God has always claimed us.
That is what #ReclaimHolyWeek is about.
About the Writer: Keshia Pendigrast was born and raised in Colombo Sri Lanka to parents of mixed racial and ethnic decent. As a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and a current student at Union Theological Seminary, Keshia’s research interests lie in post-colonial feminist issues and the intersections of theology and sexuality. She also currently serves on the board for Women’s Voices Worldwide working to create systems of empowerment for women everywhere and is an avid fan of New Day Bronx. Follow her on twitter at @pendi22k
Originally published at reclaimholyweek.tumblr.com.