In the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, a police raid started on the Stonewall Inn, a gathering place in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City. The inn had been a safe haven where everyone was welcome no matter whom they loved, and the arrests unleashed an upwelling of anger, setting off days of demonstrations, the spark of a burgeoning LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Every June, LGBTQ+ Pride Month honors the Stonewall Riots and celebrates the ensuing progress. The world's LGBTQ+ communities and allies come together with parades, festivals, workshops, and parties. Memorials are held for those who died from hate crimes of HIV/AIDS. In addition to celebrating the freedom to be ourselves, the month emphasizes the impact that LGBTQ+ people have had on history around the world.
We invite you to use the following quotations, prayer, and book suggestions to deepen your experience of this celebration.
"Celebrating gay pride is an essential affirmation of our human dignity, whether that takes the form of marching in a parade or being more honest with our friends and family about who we are.
"Pride can surely elevate the gay spirit, but what about the gay soul? Feeding the spirit requires that we envision our ideals, put our philosophy of life into action, and have a strong sense that we are a woman or man with dignity and integrity. Positive self-esteem is vital for these endeavors. In contrast, soulfulness does not care about what's healthy or unhealthy, or whether an experience is joyful or melancholy. Soulfulness insists on being true to what's real without pretense or apology. Being soulfully gay means not using false pride as a shield over our pain, shame, and guilt. Authenticity demands that we allow a place for all our feelings, especially the uncomfortable ones that we'd rather cover over with denial, secrecy, and rigid thinking."
— Joe Perez in Soulfully Gay
"We don't even have a word for homosexuality in our language; we don't care who someone sleeps with as long as they get up in the morning and contribute heartily to the tribe. In fact, it is well known that homosexuals were spiritual directors to our greatest chiefs; the homosexual brings special spiritual power to the community."
— Seneca-Iroquois elder José Hobday in Confessions by Matthew Fox
"The poor have a mission to the rich, the blacks have a mission to the whites, the handicapped have a mission to the 'normal,' the gay people have a mission to the straight, the dying have a mission to the living. Those whom the world has made victims God has chosen to be bearers of good news."
— Henri J. M. Nouwen in Here and Now
Here is a "Prayer of Queer Thanksgiving" — written by The Rev. Micah Bucey, minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City — which you can read in private devotions or at a family or community gathering.
This "Prayer to Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage," written in 2013, serves as a reminder of how far we've come since the Stonewall Uprising.
These books tell the story of LGBTQ+ rights in ways that are easy for children from any background to understand.
Stonewall by Rob Sanders tells of the unconditionally accepting community that formed at Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village and became the basis for a revolution in LGBTQ+ rights.
This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman Book salutes the enthusiasm and pride of members of the LGBTQ+ community as they march together in a parade.
It Feels Good to Be Yourself by Theresa Thorn provides an engaging, helpful introduction to varied gender expressions.
Our Subway Baby by Peter Mercurio Book tells a tale of spontaneous compassion, tenderness, and amazing synchronicity.
Uncle Bobby's Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen is a love-filled story about the meaning of family.