This is a love letter from More Light to the queer, lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community who are in deep mourning following the murder of 49 of our family over the weekend at Latin Night at Pulse queer club in Orlando.
For so many of us, the queer club has been our sanctuary and our family, the place where we first felt free to dance in the liberation of our bodies, to celebrate that yes we are beautifully and wonderfully made, and the place where we learned what a true community of support and love looks like. If the kin-dom of God is not the collection of souls gathered together in love on the dance floor, then we don’t know what is.
For too many of us, violence to our bodies and souls is not an abnormality. In a world where brown bodies who are queer and transgender are regularly targeted for violence by police, strangers, or family, the shooting of 49 Latinx,black and brown, bodies at Pulse nightclub is one egregious example of hate directed at our community, but is by no means an isolated event. We commit not to lose sight of that in the conversation about this violence in the days ahead.
In the days following the massacre of our people in Orlando, the words from Romans 8:35-38 have been echoing in our heart as a constant prayer.
Who will separate us from Christ’s love? Will we be separated by trouble, or distress, or harassment, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, We are being put to death all day long for your sake. We are treated like sheep for slaughter. But in all these things we win a sweeping victory through the one who loved us. I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.
At More Light, we believe and affirm, nothing can separate you from the fact that you are created good in the eyes of God: not the rejection of your family or faith community, not the words or slurs of strangers, not policies policing your body, not your own self-loathing that this world does not yet see you as whole, not a gunman at a club, not the color of your skin, not your immigration status, not whether you are out or closeted. God loves you. We love you. Nothing can take that love away from you.
We take hope in the outpouring of love that has been shown in the minutes, hours, and days since the shooting. We give thanks for congregations who have waved rainbow banners, and opened their sanctuaries for vigils, we give thanks for our allies who have spoken a word of love or comfort to us, who have marched with us and held a candle with us. We give thanks for our local and national leaders who have acknowledged this attack as one on the LGBTQ Latinx community and who have committed to working on gun reform. We give thanks for our family and loved ones who have given us a place and space for grief, for anger, for community. We send our love to LGBTQ Muslims who feel particularly isolated and alone. We love you, we love you, we love you.
We lift up the names of those who were killed at Pulse. We hold you in our hearts and send prayers of love to your families and community, knowing that this is a grief that cannot be comforted by words alone.
Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old
Amanda Alvear, 25 years old
Oscar A Aracena-Montero, 26 years old
Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33 years old
Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old
Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old
Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28 years old
Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25 years old
Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old
Cory James Connell, 21 years old
Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old
Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old
Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31 years old
Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old
Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26 years old
Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22 years old
Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old
Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old
Frank Hernandez, 27 years old
Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old
Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40 years old
Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old
Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old
Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25 years old
Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old
Omar Seddique Mateen, 29 years old
Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old
Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49 years old
Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25 years old
Kimberly Morris, 37 years old
Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old
Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20 years old
Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25 years old
Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old
Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old
Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old
Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old
Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27 years old
Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35 years old
Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old
Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24 years old
Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old
Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old
Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old
Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24 years old
Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37 years old
Luis S. Vielma, 22 years old
Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50 years old
Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old
Jerald Arthur Wright, 31 years old
In the weeks and months that follow, let our grief motivate us to action, that we may work to end policies of exclusion for queer and trans people in our houses of worship and in our communities, that we may advocate for gun reform, that we hold our communities accountable for racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. Let the flame of our vigils be carried in our hearts this day and always. Amen.
If you are attending the PC(USA) General Assembly, More Light is planning a vigil for Orlando as part of our More Light worship service at 10am at Rose City Park Presbyterian Church on Sunday June 19. All are welcome.