This reflection is part of an ongoing series, Pride with Mercy. These reflections grew out of the Sisters of Mercy’s Chapter 2017 Declaration challenging each of us to respond to those who suffer from oppressive systems and to “become better educated and to participate in engaged dialogue on issues of gender identity and sexual orientation.” We encourage you to forward these posts to someone who might need to read them. Together, may we grow in our tolerance, acceptance and understanding, and extend a hand of welcome to the LGBTQ+ community.

By Sister Janet Rozzano

Every June in our country, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ+) community and its allies come together for a month-long celebration of love, diversity, acceptance and pride. Parades, concerts, memorial services and speeches are scheduled. Rainbow flags pop up everywhere.

And what does this have to do with us as Sisters of Mercy? Perhaps it gives us an opportunity to heed the call of our Chapter 2017 Declaration to respond to those who suffer from oppressive systems and “become better educated and to participate in engaged dialogue on issues of gender identity and sexual orientation.”

In looking for ideas for my reflection, I discovered that the rainbow flag originated in my home town of San Francisco in 1978, and over the years it has become an internationally recognized symbol. I learned, too, that the six colors of the flag symbolize different qualities. They are:

Red – Life
Orange – Healing
Yellow – Sunlight
Green – Nature
Blue – Harmony
Purple – Spirit

I think these qualities can represent some of the gifts that the LGBTQ+ community celebrates in Pride Month. They rejoice in the fruits of their spirited work for justice and inclusion for their community, especially over the past 50 or 60 years. For some LGBTQ+ folks, after years of hiding “in the closet,” they are free to live their life more fully and honestly, out in the light, healed of the fear that kept them hidden. They can love as the persons they were created to be, true to their nature. In harmony now with their deepest self, they are strengthened to work for greater harmony, justice and understanding within the wider community. These are indeed gifts worth celebrating!

I wonder if those qualities of the rainbow flag also suggest a message to others who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community. And do they give some direction for us as Sisters of Mercy in responding to our Chapter call?

Perhaps the following are some questions for our reflection during the Pride Month celebrations:

  • What healing needs to occur in me so that I might be more open to understanding the experience of LGBTQ+ persons? What will enable this healing to occur?
  • With whom might I talk, or what can I read, that will enlighten me and deepen my knowledge of gender identity and sexual orientation?
  • Do I see each person as a beloved child of God, whose life is worthy of respect, justice, welcome and compassion? What does that vision call me to do?
  • How can I help to counteract the violence toward LGBTQ+ persons that exists in our world today? By my words and actions, can I suggest paths to greater harmony and understanding?
  • What will fire up my spirit for this work of opening hearts and minds to the blessings of diversity?

You might ask why we should give time from our busy lives to this work. These words from “The Merger Poem,” by feminist artist Judy Chicago, express a few important reasons:

And then all that has divided us will merge

And then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind…

And then all will be rich and free and varied…

And then all will live in harmony with each other…