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The first “You Stood With Me” piece that I made was personal to my experience and to the experiences of many women in my life. It was hung in my home and I looked at it every day as I began to contemplate how the messaging in that first piece could expand even further.
I was also reading daily about the continued suffering and marginalization experienced in LGBTQI+ communities. I was in contact with my dear friends and loved ones who identify as part of those communities and was moved by the sharing of their own stories and the lessons I had learned in relationship with them.
It was in the midst of that processing that I began to contemplate what a “You Stood With Me II” piece could include and how it could serve as a call to action for people within and outside of the Catholic Church.
In this piece I intend to break through outdated constructions of what it means to love our LGBTQI+ friends and family. I intend to challenge the belief that one can “love the sinner but reject the sin,” and instead offer a way of understanding love and solidarity rooted in the expressed needs of LGBTQI+ folks.
For what are the original Works of Mercy but a direct response to the expressed need for support and love from a person who is suffering?
If we open ourselves to hear the expressed needs of our LGBTQI+ friends and loved ones who are suffering, what response would be asked of us?
As I finished this piece, the Pulse nightclub massacre occurred in Orlando, Florida. The massacre, which specifically targeted a LGBTQI+ community, reminded us of the desperate need for love in action. It reminded me how dangerous our silence can become in the face of injustice. After the massacre, I felt an urgency to share this piece.
One interview I listened to on DemocracyNow! in the aftermath of the massacre spoke to the immediate need for love and inclusion of LGBTQI+ folks in our communities:
“A lot of people view gay clubs as just clubs, but the reality is, gay and trans people get pushed out of churches all the time, and often times our safe havens become nightclubs. Right? It’s the place that you feel safe. It’s the place you feel like you can be yourself. And so, to have something like this happen at a nightclub, a gay nightclub, is just like-it hurts.” –Daniel Leon-Davis