The day started early. Long before the sun was set to rise from its nightly slumber, my family and I were pacing frantically about. While I wish it was for something exciting or joyful, especially given the hellacious slog of these recent weeks, the cause for our early morning was to accompany my mother to the hospital for a much-needed surgery. While scheduled, the anxiety of the moment lingered not too far below the surface of our flesh. How will it go? Will healing go smoothly? Do we have all that we need for the journey ahead? As nurses and other caregivers came and went, each shared a similar sentiment, “this will take time.” While I knew this was offered in hopes of providing comfort it ultimately left me feeling underwhelmed, stuck in the anxious grasps of “what if?” and “how long?”
In hopes of finding something that would consume my attention I turned to Facebook and Instagram. As I scrolled endlessly between the apps I noticed the number of posts dawned by rainbows. “Owh yes,” I told myself, “it’s Pride.” Images of Drag Queens, affirmative quotes from spiritual texts and traditions, a handful of eye-rolling displays of Rainbow Capitalism and even a few pronouncements of solidarity from allies announced the month-long occasion. It was ultimately a worthwhile distraction.
As I continued to scroll and “like” the occasional post my mind returned to the earlier sentiment shared with me by hospital staff, “this will take time.” It goes without saying that we (but really: some) in the LGBTQIA+ community have put in the labor over the generations to arrive to this moment. Ancestors and Elders have given so much for us to be able to reside in this space where posts can be made on social media in recognition of June being the prescribed month of “pride.” Yet in all honesty, I find myself struggling in this moment. Maybe it is due to general fatigue, compounding trauma from systemic violence, and the day-to-day hustle required of life. Truly, how long must we wait till we achieve our full and complete freedom? And when I say “freedom,” I do not mean the theoretical kind, or the type where million-dollar corporations drape their logos with the colors of the rainbow to express a monetary tolerance. I mean the kind of freedom where we are free from shame and violence and can live into the fullness of our queerness as it shapes, forms, and conjures itself in abundantly delicious ways?
The truth of the matter is that we have already begun to live into the in-breaking of this tantalizing invitation through our very being. When our Ancestors and Elders took their first breath, they formulated the lineage that we now find ourselves the inheritors of. And we, for them, are the fulfillment of time. And we, too, in one day being Good Ancestors, will have our time fulfilled by those to come in how we add to and create anew this tradition of embodied, transgressive being.
When we speak to our Ancestors, we speak to our Descendants; and when we speak to our Descendants, we are speaking to our Ancestors. This knowing is what is brings me hope, and joy, in this in-breaking month of Pride.
Beloveds, I offer this incantation for our journeys:
Blessed Spirit of Life,
You who radiate and pulsate, who shimmer and shake.
Hold us in this moment, and in all the moments, of the In-Breaking
so that we might know that we are the fulfillment of time.
That in each of us is the manifestation of liberation and joy in this generation.
May we continue in the ways of the lineages that we have received, being
good stewards of them for future sojourners in the journey till the
blessed day when we can conjure ourselves, and the world, free from
fear and violence.
Ase, So Be It, and Amen.
Rev. Byron Tyler Coles
Rev. Byron Tyler Coles (they/he) is native of Roanoke, VA, and the only child of Monica and Terry. Inspired by the wisdom of the faith tradition that they were raised in and the traditions they have since claimed, Tyler believes the best of our individual tasks are in working for collective liberation. They personally engage this mandate through multi-racial organizing, supporting young adults, and movement chaplaincy. Tyler currently serves as a staff member of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) where they support faithful leadership across the American South.