I’ve been enjoying all the stories about the 50 year anniversary. Haven’t you? Though a great triumph, there was a great cost to pay to achieve it, even in the lost lives of those brave enough to step forward before it became more safe and known. It is inspiring to hear the stories of those heroes who lived on and stretched the edge of possible. It must have taken great courage.
I still remember a little of 1969, but I don’t remember any of those stories being told then. Yes, I watched the moon landing and have enjoyed watching all the PBS stuff this summer on the space race…….but I was talking about the 50 year anniversary of Stonewall, a story of the courage and cost to make something new possible. Is that what you thought I was talking about?
As our congregational worship theme focuses on Re-Telling the Stories of Scripture this season, it’s also an opportune time to re-tell the story of this nation. That big story of nation is composed of smaller stories and which ones we choose to tell makes all the difference in how we understand the big story.
The cultural system of white (male) supremacy has put white straight men’s stories in the center of our national history, mostly hiding and neglecting the stories of women, people of color, and GLBTQ folk. If we brought the Gospel lens of compassion, justice, liberation, healing, and inclusion to our national storytelling, the lens that came with the radical followers of the Jesus Way like Paul who saw through that lens a Body of Christ beyond ethnic, gender, or status limits (“neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” – Galatians 3:28), we would tell more than just the story of the three courageous white, straight guys who went up in Apollo 11.
We would tell the inspiring stories of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, the black women who were mathematicians at NASA who helped it to happen. We would tell stories of those who survived the harshest days of GLBTQ repression and who took a pivotal stand 50 years ago this summer when the New York city police raided the gay bar known as the Stonewall Inn.
Do you know the story of Stonewall? For many years, I didn’t.
You’ve probably heard of Senator McCarthy and the Red Scare of the 1950s, but have you heard of the Lavender Scare of the 1950s and the closeted man Bobby Cutler, National Security Advisor, who helped authorize it? Many of us missed hearing these important stories.
Healing our society in the inclusive Spirit of Christ will mean listening to and telling (centering) other stories than just those of white straight men (like me).
StoryCorps from National Public Radio is one of many places to hear these neglected stories.
It’s been fifty years since Stonewall. GLBTQ liberation is not yet full, but it has made progress thanks to many courageous people who sacrificed much, even their lives.
Many of their stories are being told through NPR’s StoryCorps project dedicated to the 50 year anniversary of Stonewall. If you know someone in the GLBTQ community who was born before the time of Stonewall, you could interview them and preserve their story. And recording anyone else’s story who is in a group whose stories are too often neglected is also a worthy way of re-telling the story of our nation (U.S.).