written by Clarence V. Baney for the Peacemaking and Social Justice Committee
You know that song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the sixties band, The Byrds? It recalls the passage from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-4
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
The act of dancing, in this passage, stands in contrast to the act of mourning; it is a celebration. What does one celebrate in dance?
Within the LGBTQ Latin-American and African American communities exists a sub-culture known as ballroom culture. This subculture is rooted in defiance and opposition to the world that insisted people conform to prescribed standards of gender identity, sexual identity, and gender roles. In protest, these LGBTQ people of color would gather to host, to perform, dance, and exhibit themselves, in whatever manner they wished to be seen. There are categories, and people compete to see who can be the most authentic and true to the vision of themselves. In dance, and song, the other members of the community watching, they celebrate the diversity of identities. Ballroom is ostensibly a spectacular fashion show where people are free to be expressive and are not judged; they are embraced and welcomed. This marvelous spectacle has recently gone mainstream in television shows such as Project Runway, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Pose, and many more.
To many of us, this subculture looks and sounds foreign, until we think a little bit. As Christians, we gather in a particular space, on a particular day, around our particular identity. We celebrate and are followers of the way of Jesus, welcoming, worshipping, and celebrating our common lives each Sunday through song, liturgy, and prayer! Our act of worship is like a dance we perform in celebration of our common lives and our common identity. We know this dance too! Through it, we create a community that welcomes anyone to the table, that embraces diversity, and that creates a sense of belonging.
How do we extend this feeling of belonging and welcome to others outside our community in a way that resonates with them? How do we learn to celebrate the diversity of identities that are coalesced in community? This Pride brings to us a season of welcome again, where we can rethink and relearn how to open our doors and hearts to the LGBTQ community. So let’s dance!