Rainbow Sangha: Amida Shu takes part in the first Malvern Pride (UK)
In July, our small town Malvern in the UK held its first ever Pride. With only four months to organise, they pulled together an amazing event with multiple fundraisers, and a hugely successful day in the park with hundreds of people attending.
Our temple (the Pureland Amida Mandala Temple) is rooted in this town and we felt it was important to support our LGBT+ community – several of our congregation belong to this community, and we are also aware that those from the LGBT+ community have not always had positive experiences of organised religion!
We had a stall with our Buddha proudly waving his Rainbow Flag, and had countless positive conversations throughout the day.
Next year there’ll be a Malvern Pride Parade, so we look forward to getting involved again!
Will you take part in your local Pride next year?
Fifty years ago LGBT+ people no longer accepted being pushed into ‘the closet’, invisible to the rest of society and thus vulnerable to abuse. The New York Stonewall Riots of June 1969 were an uproar against the systematic bullying of queer people by the New York Police and the discriminations within society at large. Stonewall was the culmination of a decade of such protests across the USA. Every year, the Pride parades remember the Stonewall riots. Pride marches are advocating equal rights for LGBT+ people as well as embracing and celebrating diversity as a positive thing. So Pride is not only about non-discrimination but also about being proud of who you are, rather than being told you should feel ashamed.
There is no single definition of ‘queer’ but in the broadest sense it refers to those people whose sexuality or gender identity does not fit the accepted social models of their time and culture. Our present culture is strongly biassed by the Judeo-Christian world-view in which there are only two sexes (male and female) and one sexual orientation (hetero, or heterosexual, also called straight). As soon as solid scientific research was done, this binary view proved to be wrong (in history as well as in anthropology as well as in biology, but also in non-theistic religions). Reality was much more diverse than what Western/Christian societies considered acceptable. Historically, ‘queer’ was used as an insult, but it has been picked up by the LGBT+ community as a badge of honour (similar to the history of the term ‘Protestant’ in Christianity)
LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The + can refer to a wide range of other ways by which queer people self-identify. There are many variations on LGBT+, the longest (so far) being LGBPTTQQIIAAP