Thursday, December 10, 2015

Holiday Wishes for the LBGT Community

The Holiday Season is meant to be joyful.
During Hanukkah, we recall the story of a limited amount of oil keeping Temple lights burning for eight days in a row. The Hanukkah miracle reminds us that during our times of uncertainty, there is an inextinguishable light of hope within us.
During Christmas we imagine the innocence of baby born in humble circumstances but celebrated by angels; that baby reminds us that we are each a child of God.
Kwanzaa honors African heritage and celebrates the gifts, skills, and contributions of descendants of the West African Diaspora. Kwanzaa challenges us to affirm and appreciate our diverse global family.
And the New Year is a time for releasing the past and looking with hope and expectation toward the possibilities that lie ahead.
No wonder the holidays are filled with gift giving, feasting, prayers for peace, and songs of wonder and joy. It is a sacred season.
However, for LBGT people, it can also be a lonely season. We’ve made many advances in recent years and we’ve overcome many obstacles, and yet there are those who do not celebrate our legal and cultural victories with us. The Right Wing of both politics and religion threaten at every turn to do all that they can to reverse recent advances for LBGT rights and equality. Christian fundamentalists have doubled down on their anti-gay rhetoric. Municipalities have proposed ordinances that would deny many people the protections they need if LBGT folk are included in the mix. And some families, influenced by the worst of politics and religion, have abandoned their LBGT family members, or told them they are welcome home for the holidays only as long as they don’t mention their sexual orientation.
For LBGT people, the holidays can bring up old wounds, or subject them to new insults, new experiences of rejection, or fill them with remorse for not having supportive, loving families that embrace them for they are.
So, to LBGT people who have formed strong, healthy families of choice: Congratulations and Happy Holidays! You are demonstrating the healing power of love.
To LBGT people who remain in the closet, or attempt to return to the closet at least in part in order to spend time with relatives during the holidays, my heart goes out to you and I beg you to affirm your own sacred value. You may never persuade your relatives that you are who are meant to be, but please don’t let them persuade you that you are not. You are part of the beautiful rainbow diversity of humanity.
And to all allies of LBGT people, loving parents and siblings, cousins and friends, aunts and uncles, grandparents and godparents who love your Queer family member not in spite of who they are, but who love them exactly for who they are, let me tell you that you are heroes and your love and compassion will enrich lives and touch hearts in profound and life-giving ways.
The Holidays are meant to fill us with hope, joy, and goodwill. As LBGT people often need those very blessings at this time of year, my wish for our entire community is that the best of the Season will fill our hearts and bring healing to our world, or at very least to our experience of it.
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins is the Senior Minister of Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.
This column was originally written for the Florida Agenda

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