This was originally posted to the CUUPS Patheos blog, Nature’s Path, on June 14th, 2016.
You for whom the house of love
Has become the house of death–
I Who am the Goddess
of love and death
open My arms to embrace you
(Excerpt from “Inanna’s Prayer”, The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, Starhawk & M. Macha NightMare)
I had many thoughts about what I would offer up to you this month, especially with the solstice arriving soon (summer for us in the northern hemisphere, winter for our siblings in the south). All of that disappeared when I woke up Sunday morning to news of the massacre in Orlando.
I’ve been trying to piece together why this was so deeply devastating to me, personally. Given the number of gun deaths, mass shootings, rapes and other assaults, not to mention my own country’s bloody history of genocide when it comes to minority populations, why was it this particular story that opened the floodgates of sorrow and left me barely functional all day long?
Lives are supposed to matter. We live up to that as UUs, and as Pagans, by making sure that the ways in which our human systems prevent certain lives from mattering — systems of racism, sexism, ableism — are called to account and made to change by our efforts. Not only was Pulse a haven for queer lives to celebrate themselves in their whole selves, a place where they could find the connection between their bodies, hearts, and minds through dance, but it was also a place to find a communities. And within that community, on this particular night, Pulse was celebrating Latinx drag queens and queer Latinx sexuality.
Pulse was one of the few places that our queer siblings could fight back against all the cultural messages that bodies are sinful, and that queer bodies in particular are not just sinful but destructive. The Goddess was there, in that place, every night, helping them unlearn hateful messages about themselves and instead learn to love all of who they are from head to toe — including not just their queer space, but also the colour of their skins. It is as if they were shot down in a sacred temple while in the midst of prayer — the prayer of dance.
This was not just an attack on the queer community, but also the Latinx community. Out of fear and anxiety, many are also now turning the backlash into an attack on the Muslim community, fueling the Islamophobia that has the US culture in an iron grip. I have written before to you of how our Pagan lens of interconnected to each other and to the Earth calls us to reach out to our neighbor as ourselves, to hear them when they cry out in pain and suffering. We are needed now, more than ever.
So I am asking you, today, to bring yourself to vigilance. Every time you hear someone denigrate Islam, speak up to love. When you hear someone say the queers deserved it, speak up to love. When it is said that it’s irrelevant that a majority of those slain were Latinx, speak up to love.
May it be so. Blessed be.