“My Stonewall Remarks: 40 Years Ago” from Ryan Kemp-Pappan

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I’m really late in posting this, but I wanted to share a speech by my friend Ryan Kemp-Pappan, a pastor for Douglass Boulevard Christian Church and a tireless ally for the GLBTQ community. Ryan, who spoke at the Candles Across the Commonwealth vigil last Sunday in celebration of Stonewall’s 40th anniversary, is one of many in the faith-based community seeking to reconcile the intolerance queer people have faced due to their religious backgrounds. After reading, you too will be saying “Amen.”

40 years ago the silent voice of a community was heard in a riotous action proclaiming that they would no longer be silent.  40 years ago a few hundred gathered to give voice to the marginalization and systemic oppression forced upon them.  40 years ago a movement was born that we celebrate here today.

The most important thing to remember about movements is that they are comprised of people.  People with hopes, dreams, and vision.  People with love in their hearts looking for a place to store that love.  People with the right to be.  PEOPLE! Movements being and end with the people.  Movements cannot sustain the movement when it is boiled down to an idea.

I stand here today a leader in the Christian church.  I stand here today as a white, straight male. I am a part of this movement.

The Christian faith has been utilized in the disenfranchising action of the GLBTQ community.  We have demanded that you must give up your faith if you insist on keeping your love.  We have demanded that you remain silent in order to nourish your soul.  We have demanded that you have a place in the Kindom of God only if you conform to the narrow standards of dubious origins.  For this I am terribly sorry.

It is my hope that we as a church may offer reconciliation and love to our sisters and brothers for the atrocities perpetrated upon them in the name of God.  It is my hope that the beautiful voice of faith embraced by the GLBTQ Community may enrich the faith on communities across Kentucky.  The faith of a few transforms the faith of us all.  This is a lesson we may draw from the actions of those brave people that would not be silent 40 years ago.

I recently read a lecture from Kentucky’s proud son, Bishop V. Gene Robinson, titled Why Religion Matters in the Quest for Gay Civil Rights. He speaks, “I believe that it will take religious people and religious voices to undo the harm that has been done by religious institutions…It’s time that progressive religious people stop being ashamed of their faith and fearful that they will be identified with the Religious Right, and start preaching the Good News of the liberating Christ, which includes ALL God’s Children.”

It seems that the harm, the damage that is being done is by us, the religious community, by us being in the shadows.  It is time for us to step out of the shadows.  I offer that as this movement progresses and the fires of the Spirit burn in the hearts of the many that we the religious community owe the Gay community love for the silence we offer and the isolation that we perpetrate upon you.  We the religious community owe you that scared space to be fearfully & wonderfully made.  We the religious community owe it to you to emerge from the silence and join our voice with yours and demand that WE shall not be denied the justice imbued within our hearts and souls because we celebrate the diversity of Gods creation.

40 years ago a rebellion began that we are honored to celebrate tonight and participate in today.  40 years ago people came together and would not be silent.  Tonight let us commit ourselves to not remaining silent.  Let us join our voice as we demand that Liberty & justice truly be for ALL.

To read more from Ryan, visit his Web site.

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