Blessed are the Queer

Kindred in Christ,

The above graphic is a picture of the linoleum stamp my partner Kim carved for our Printmaking Pop-up booth tomorrow at PrideFest Capitol Hill. Volunteers from both inside and outside our congregation will come together to invite people from the festival to create art, celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride, and have fun!

As you might make out, the linoleum block above has been carved with reversed letters stating, “Blessed are the queer.” Stamps must be carved in reverse, so they print the image correctly. Yet, when I first glimpsed the stamp Kim had created, I was deeply reminded of the reverse nature of Jesus’ image of the kin-dom of God. “Blessed are the poor (Luke 6:20),” Jesus proclaimed in the face of a world that understood the wealthy and powerful as blessed and saw the poor and sick as cursed.

For a long time, the term “queer” was strictly used as a slur or curse word toward the LGBTQIA+ community. Indeed, I have been called this term when I was bullied in high school. And sadly, it is still used today in this despairing way by some. However, the term has also been reclaimed or reversed in recent years, as a statement of Pride by the very community it was intended to harm. Subverting and reversing ignorance, bigotry, hatred, and fear is what the kin-dom of God looks like in our midst. The reclaiming of the word queer always makes me think of the reversal nature of the kin-dom of God and the many ways it is all around us.

I hope that you will consider stopping by our booth (more info below) and perhaps catching a glimpse of God’s counter cultural kingdom. In the meantime, I share with you what Jesus’ blessings might sound like in our day:

Blessed are you who are queer, for yours is the kingdom of heaven!

Blessed are you who are undocumented, for papers and borders are not real and will not dictate your lives!

Blessed are you who are Black, for you are beautiful, powerful, and in the kingdom of God your lives will matter to the system, as well as to one another!

Blessed are you who feel crushingly alone during this lockdown, for God’s company has come near to you!

Blessed are you who are seasonally depressed, for the sun will shine upon your sorrow!

Blessed are you who are indebted—to the hospitals, to the schools, to the credit card companies—for there is more than enough to forgive your debts!

Blessed are you who are poor, for God is with you and Jesus has joined you in poverty.

Blessed are you.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz