Dignity and Pride
by Kathye Hamm
God, we’re working for the future when children far and wide, can live their lives with dignity and pride. As they grow in strength and stature, may they join us hand in hand, as against all hate we stand. (For All Children – verse 4)
I was eight years old when my big brother, who was nine and a half, asked if I wanted to go for a bike ride. We lived in Sacramento then, and much of our subdivision was still homes in various phases of construction. You could always find kids playing inside the empty houses and riding their bikes around our neighborhood – even though it might be beastly hot! Of course, we never mentioned to our parents that we had played in the new homes!
My bike was a Stingray with a banana seat. It had a white basket with flowers which surrounded the rim. I loved my bike! And I couldn’t believe my big brother, Kris, wanted to go for a bike ride with me! He hardly ever asked me to do anything with him!
As we started out down our street, we saw her. Her name was Julie (Not her real name.) She was the biggest bully in our neighborhood. She was always teasing my brother. I didn’t understand why she didn’t like him.
She grabbed a hold of Kris’ bike and forced it up and down a few times. She called my brother a “big fairy”. He turned to me and yelled, “Go home Kathy! Go home right now!” I didn’t know why he had to talk so mean to me! On my way back to our house, I wondered why she called him a fairy. I loved fairies. I had a few of them on strings in my bedroom – one pink, one purple and one blue.
Later, I learned why he had told me to return to our home. He was afraid that Julie might hurt me as well. It wasn’t the last time he would experience fear and violence for being gay. And he’s not the only LGBTQ person who has experienced those things.
We lost my brother to AIDS in 1991. He was my best friend. At his funeral, I thought about Julie and if she still was discriminating against people who she was afraid of or didn’t understand. With all the love swirling around at his Memorial Service, I felt we were all a strong witness of how love is greater than hate and fear.
In about a month, I’ll be marching with Bishop Mark and Pastor Katy – my new colleagues in ministry. We’ll march with other Lutherans at the Pride Parade in San Francisco. (June, 25) We’ll be marching against hate and for compassion, love and justice for all of God’s children. We’ll be a beautiful witness that the church can be a place of welcome and joy for everyone – no exceptions!
A few years ago, when I was marching in the Pride Parade, I saw a young man standing next to another young man in the crowd. When he saw our group of Lutherans marching by him, he yelled out, “Hey! They’re Lutherans! I’m Lutheran, too! How cool is that?” I waved so hard at him and his friend, I thought my arm was going to fall off! I smiled so much, my cheeks hurt for an hour afterwards! I bet God was smiling, too.
O may our hearts and minds be opened,
Fling the church doors open wide.
May there room enough for everyone inside. (For All Children – refrain)
In Christ’s love,
March 13, 2018
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