“No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.”

These are the often quoted words of Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson, one of the mothers of the LGBTQ+ liberation movement. As a Black transgender individual, I find her words to be deeply necessary because of how familiar she was with being relegated to the margins. She and others were tired of living on the edge, tired of being pushed into the shadows, tired of discriminatory laws that failed to prioritize her people’s needs or keep them safe. Some say her tiredness and frustration is what led her to throw that iconic brick, catapulting us into the moment that we now know as the Stonewall Riots. The community built its own cultural hush harbor to be seen beyond the restraints of bigoted, unjust laws, and when those laws continued to threaten and violate their bodies and spaces, the community engaged in collective disruption.

I believe that Jesus knows a thing or two about disruption on the margins. His birth and life were in direct opposition to the political rulers and religious elite of his day. His intersectional approach to the ancient teachings elevated the greatest commandments, found in Mark 12:30-31. 30 you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  

The beloved community was made manifest with each defiant and unconventional act Jesus and his disciples did. I believe that if he was walking the earth today, he would find some of his most faithful followers in the midst of us LGBTQ+ folks who defy the proclamations of evangelical religious teachings both by our mere existence and resistance to corrupt laws. 

In similar fashion to the times of Jesus, we witness corruption by the political ruling class and by the religious elite, collaborating to control the actions and lives of the people. Ephesians tells us that we’re up against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual wickedness in high places, and we see that power structure grappling for more and more of our compliance to harmful doctrines of division. If there is any part of the Bible that should be used as a litmus test for our values and politics, it is the standard that Jesus set in Mark.

The greatest commandments are acts of love, and the tasks are spiritual, communal, and individual. When we don’t practice this love ethic, we end up harming each other and ourselves.

When candidates, elected officials, and religious leaders purport how people should be treated based on their identity, ask yourself if it’s grounded in a love ethic. When lawmakers put out policies that aren’t informed by the people they impact, ask if it was made from a place of love for those communities.

Author Bell Hooks offers us, “the moment we choose to love, we begin to move against domination, against oppression. The moment we choose to love, we begin to move toward freedom, to act in ways that liberate ourselves and others.” In a culture where harm and domination masquerade as care and concern, we need to intentionally study and choose the path of love. Our ability to move with love towards the divine, our neighbors, and ourselves fans the flames of freedom. 

On the night of the Stonewall Riots, love showed up in the form of a brick, in the form of a community connected through love of self and neighbor, in the sounds of chants for freedom, in the unified commitment to keep each other safe. While Pride Month elevates a story of a marginalized peoples’ love and resistance to oppression, the real invitation is to move against domination and towards loving our LGBTQ+ neighbors the entirety of the year. Let our prayer and mantra be, “may I love in ways that devastatingly disrupt organized state violence.” – Gabes Torres

Rev. Holden Cession is a multidimensional creative, cultural worker, and conduit for liberation from Greensboro, NC.

Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.

We believe that reporting can save the world.

The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.

All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.

⚡ Join The Society ⚡