Kia ora e te whānau o Hato Anaru,
I was lucky enough to walk just behind the queer young people leading the hikoi to the Out in the Park fair on Saturday. My children had been invited to be near the front of the hikoi so I went with them, “2,4,6,8 – don’t assume your kids are straight,” and “What do we want? Rainbow Justice! When do we want it? Now!” Now I’m wondering how we, as a faith community, can amplify these young people’s words this year. What do these calls mean for us in all the communities we walk within? What do they mean for our voice as St Andrew’s within the Presbyterian church, particularly given its ban on people in same-sex relationships in leadership?
My observation from Out in the Park is that it was important to be there, as “Faith Communities United in Love,” with St Andrew’s people and friends from across Wellington. There were people overjoyed to see a queer-friendly faith-based stall at the fair. I think of a teenager who sat and read our books for ages, and then mentioned their very fundamentalist family; our reading material provided insights on other ways of being Christian.
I notice signs of hope in the growing number of churches that are quietly welcoming of LGBT people – but there are still many churches telling rainbow people there is something wrong with them. Recently there has been an increase in public expressions of transphobia, including a booklet put out by Family First which encourages parents to protest against inclusive school policies and curriculum. We have proudly spoken up against discrimination based on sexuality, and in recent years we have held events such as marking Transgender Day of Visibility. What steps can we take next to help create safer communities for trans people, and inclusive and celebratory faith spaces for all the rainbow community?
The fair got Wellington Pride Festival underway. I invite you to note the Harvest Pop Up Café on Saturday, 4pm – 10pm. Petone Salvation Army, 72 Cuba St, Petone. This is another Faith Communities United in Love event – for LGBTIQ+ people of faith, friends, family and allies. Come and enjoy a good coffee or other drink, baking and some great company.
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