Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Message from our Pride in the Pulpit Coordinator

Post by Lead Organizer Kate McDonough, coordinator of Pride in the Pulpit

I still struggle with Hebrew. Although I’ve been to a number of Shabbat services, I find myself tripping over every other word. Hebrew was something that we just did not cover in my Lutheran Sunday school. Last month, I had the pleasure of participating at the Nehirim Queer Shabbaton, a conference dedicated to LGBT Jewish spirituality and culture. As lunch ended one of the rabbis at the conference announced that we’d be singing a nigun, which excited me because I know some nigunim and hoped I could sing along. However, shortly after the song began, I realized this is a nigun I did not know and prepared to struggle with the words—then we hit the melody. The tune for the song was the same as "Lord Prepare me to be a Sanctuary," a song that I grew up singing—making the unfamiliar familiar.

The beauty of interfaith work is discovering commonality in the face of diversity. Likewise, the beauty of movement work is realizing that although we may use different words to describe the problems we see, we are in fact singing the same tune. For example, when a young boy is bullied at school for “acting like a girl,” one person will label it homophobia because gay men are perceived to be effeminate, another will say that it is transphobia because he is being attacked for his gender expression while a third will claim it has to do with gender norms and a narrow view of what it means to be male. Who’s right? I would say all of them. Sexual orientation is different from gender identity and expression, but homophobia and transphobia can be very much intertwined. Furthermore, a narrow prescription for gender roles can have harmful effects for the LGBT community as well as our overall society.

In recognizing that we sway to the same melody, we have an opportunity to overcome perceived difference and address intersecting oppression as a unified movement. Here lies our strength, for the walls of oppression will surely fall if we break them down from all sides. Our words can be different, but we can sing as one when our tune is the same.

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