News – November 25, 2022
Dear Members and Friends
I sincerely hope everyone was able to take at least a bit of time this week to be with loved ones and pause to give thanks. I encouraged you to do exactly that at our Bread Communion this past Sunday, which you can still catch online if you didn’t make it in person. There was an abundance of bread, family participation, and gratefulness. In two days, the first Sunday of Advent, we will close out our theme of Soil before beginning December’s theme of Sun.
I was going to continue a theme of gratefulness in this newsletter, but the recent mass shootings continue to weigh heavily on my heart. Late Saturday night, in the first of two mass shootings this week (as of this writing), a gunman opened fire at a drag show at Club Q in Colorado Springs. He murdered five people and injured seventeen before being taken down by patrons.
This past Sunday, in my prayer, I pointed out that the other side of the coin of gratitude and thankfulness is condemnation and censure. I felt called to bring this up because it was the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This observance was founded to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people, and to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia.
Of course, when I wrote my prayer, I had no idea that I would begin that Sunday with news of yet another mass murder directed against the queer community.
Colorado Springs Police Chief Adrian Vasquez described the venue, “Club Q is a safe haven for our LGBTQ citizens. Every citizen has a right to feel safe and secure in our city, to go about our beautiful city without fear of being harmed or treated poorly.”
The desecration of a place of safety troubled me nearly as much as the loss of life when forty-nine people were murdered at the Pulse nightclub six years ago. I commented then on social media that I was upset that people were writing that the murders were horrible, but they didn’t see why is was such an issue that it was a gay space. I explained how those spaces are a special haven for people who don’t feel like they can be themselves anywhere else. I am old enough that bars were the only explicitly gay-friendly places I was aware of. The murder of those club patrons was very much an attack on the queer community’s ability to be ourselves anywhere at all.
As someone on social media said this week, “If you can’t wrap your head around a bar or club as a sanctuary, you’ve probably never been afraid to hold someone’s hand in public.” No one should feel they aren’t safe in our country, but that simply isn’t the case. There are too many guns and too much hate-filled rhetoric. That’s why places like Club Q and Pulse were vitally important, and why places like The Montrose Center and First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston continue to be vitally important.
We are a safe space for those who may not feel safe elsewhere. We are a place where we know you cannot ever gaze into the face of someone whom God does not love, cherish, and approve of.
Sadly, much of American religion has been hijacked by bigots, homophobes, and white nationalists masquerading as Christians. I doubt that they saw this on their social media newsfeed this week, but you may have. In case you didn’t:
Rev. D. Scott Cooper
Assistant Minister of Congregational Life First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston firstname.lastname@example.org