Below is the address I gave at the Fabulous, Fierce & Sacred event at the end of November, 2014. The concept of brave spaces is not mine. To learn about Brave Spaces in-depth, check out this article.
My beloved community members. My queer folks. My gender queers. My lesbians, gay folks, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, trans folks, intersex, two-spirit, gender variant, androgynous, butches, femmes, studs, third gender, multi-gender, genderless, single folks, partnered folks, and folks in solidarity with us, those my limits have failed to name, and names we have yet to find together:
The state of our movement is sacred. The state of our movement is fierce and it is fabulous: look around you! Are we not fierce? Are we not fabulous? And the state of our movement is brave.
Since Pink Menno’s first public nonviolent joyful action and presence in Columbus in 2009, a movement of people clad in pink have been creating a shelter for ourselves from the destructive spiritual and structural violence of Mennonite Church USA. It is a shelter where we can find refuge, where we can nurture, celebrate, and reclaim our selves, so that we can together bravely and boldly take public action to transform MC USA.
As attention to our fierce and fabulous queer bodies continues to grow and spiral in the Mennonite Church, the state of our movement calls all of us clad in pink, queer and folks working to be in solidarity with us, to brave and bold public action.
Being brave can look like wearing pink in Mennonite public spaces. Being brave can look like posting queer solidarity on Facebook, showing up in solidarity in Kansas City. It can look like joining the ongoing calls with other leaders in Pink Menno, leaders who give of their time and energy when it’s possible, and who step back when our energy is needed elsewhere, or sometimes when the church’s spiritual violence weighs too heavily. That’s the beautiful thing about a movement full of leaders: space for fluidity, and space to cultivate brave queer bodies and souls.
Brave spaces look like shared vulnerability and shared accountability. Brave spaces look like sharing our stories of pain, and sorrow, of love, laughter and celebration, of mistakes made, shortfalls and questions, and our stories of triumphs. Brave spaces look like being open to hearing how what you thought was helpful allyship did harm. It looks like understanding all harm caused, and accepting accountability for harm. It looks like hearing how we, as Pink Menno leaders, can be more accountable and more transparent about our decision-making processes. Shared vulnerability and shared accountability.
This past year, as MC USA handed down decision after judgment after passive-aggressive letter about our queer bodies, Pink Menno leaders created space together where we can be triumphant over pain, and heal together. Pink Menno visioned together how to move forward in our brave and prophetic space-making work in the Mennonite Church.
We came up with three focuses for our work:
- We commit to tapping cracks: in places where the system of queer oppression is crumbling, where the foundation built on silencing and shaming is shaking, we will tap cracks together. We will speak our truths into them, we will create space for others to step forward in brave inclusion.
- We commit to supporting queer youth: to creating safe spaces inside and outside of convention where queer youth can gather.
- We commit to intersectionality as we move forward in our work, to building authentic relationships across race, class, gender, ability, and to connecting and working to undo the oppressions that affect all of us.
Let’s create brave spaces of shared vulnerability, of shared accountability here together, in Kansas together, and let us cultivate a practice of creating brave spaces, spaces where we can model accountability, transparency, truthtelling, and brave nonviolent action. In other words, let us model the beloved community alternative to the violent structures of MC USA.