Gay Pride and What It Conjures

Thoughts after the 2013 San Diego Pride Parade:

Thinking back, forty years and more
back to when gay was not a word
that described a people
exiled, but proud.

Thinking back to my early tears
at being born a sinner,
wrong for who I loved
called by my church evil and disordered.

A teen, full of tenderness and tumult,
tormented by accusations from within and without
queer, lesbian, bull dyke, homosexual--
running to dictionaries at every turn
hoping to find a definition of myself
that would not tear me open.

Thinking back to my hopes
of loving the world enough to right it
of shining my light in a thousand dark corners
Inside me lived a love
that could turn tides and move mountains.
Inside me lived a fire raging for justice.

Thinking back to June 6, 1969
the basement of the motherhouse,
the novice director's words:
"Your parents will be here in half an hour.
You are not to continue your novitiate."
The news ripping like a tornado
through the Kansas of my heart.

Dismissed from the convent.
Disowned by the family.
Disconnected from the church.
Dishonored and disappeared
from the culture at large.

Thinking back, I wonder now
how any of us made it through that wilderness,
that drought of human kindness

What force was loose in the world,
what rage after Stonewall,
what call from the future
was powerful enough to call us home
to ourselves and each other?

What great light was that
that overpowered the shadows,
overcame the fears?

What arrived in our common heart
that shook off our sorrow,
our longings to die,
and gave us the will to stand tall and proud?

Thinking back now on every tear shed
by every person marching,
of every door shut, every curse uttered,
every family lost,
every church and temple that closed its doors
to us

thinking back on all that
I think I witnessed a miracle
on University Street in San Diego
on July 13.

I witnessed a resurrection of a kind,
a glorious mystery of transformation,
a communion of saints on our better days
a vibrant parade of thousands of lovers
saying back to a world that doesn't want them:
We are yours.
We are good.
We are strong.
We are proud.

Thinking back on my first pride rally
in Albany, New York in 1969
I shout out loud a cry of thanks
to the heroes who made it happen,
who gave us a name,
who took and chance
and took a stand.

This world is a wonder
because we're in it.

© 2013 Jan Phillips