Religion: Emerging from COVID confinement, screaming unapologetically with the cicadas

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by Heather Brydie Harris (they/them)

This series is proudly sponsored by Highland Coffee, Louisville’s Finest Coffeehouse, locally owned and operated since 1999. They have lots of VEGAN eats and treats made in house. Draft nitro-cold coffee on tap! Highland Coffee proudly bakes it’s own desserts and breakfast pastries in house, including many vegan & gluten free items, breakfast wraps, and panini sandwiches. Birthday cakes, cupcakes, and other items available to order.

For many of us this pandemic has been a practice in queer grief. We have been forced to be acutely aware of confinements.

Stuck indoors, for those of us lucky enough to have doors and walls to be stuck within, we have had to acknowledge consciously or subconsciously the spaces that we can no longer enter.

For those who have always lived on the privileged side of societal margins, this may be the first time that they have been forced to face literal and figurative confinements. Not so for us, who have been forced to live in a state of constant negotiation of limited and liminal spaces.

A lifetime of asking ourselves, which part of myself shall enter and how? It might be the opening of the flowers in my garden that have me thinking so intentionally about openings and closings. Long winters of confinement and darkness followed by bold and albeit flamboyant displays of color and life – the phrase give us our flowers while we are still here takes on new meaning when I begin to see the way we are the flowers – boldly re-entering a world and offering it our enduring beauty, a world that may or may not return it to us in kind.

Over a year of confinement may have caused many of us sitting with our queer grief in ways that has forced us to renegotiate when and how, or even if, we will reenter society in the same way we left it back in March of 2020. This year-long of proverbial winter, that is not quite finished with us yet, may have changed us in ways we don’t yet understand or know.

But what I do know is that we have an opportunity to re-emerge changed. So much of mainstream religion has taught us that we need to change to appeal to conservative notions of how to get into a divine kingdom to come. In contrast, for many queer folks, we have tasked ourselves with making a kingdom of our own design while we are still here.

We strive to create safe spaces in our high schools, universities, bars, clubs, during pride parades, in our youth groups, and in our homes, and for some of us, even in our churches and other religious spaces. For many Black queer folks, a year of putting feet on the ground, and fists in the air, against the evils of police brutality was a part of kingdom building.

Perhaps in this time of re-emergence we decide to follow in the footsteps of the cicadas this year, instead of emerging as soft and vibrant floral bouquets, we emerge screaming – loud, unapologetic, and willing to take up space only on our own terms.

How can we acknowledge our season of grief, of darkness, of hibernation, and isolation, and reemerge with new boundaries that serve to protect ourselves and our families and communities? How can we reconnect in ways that continue to build and that aid us in imagining new radically queer possibilities? Can we leave behind those things that brought us spiritual confinement and death?

Religious spaces that would only take part of us, and never the whole, family members that only support us if we behave in ways that are recognizable to them from our past lives, careers that would ask us to deny our full selves, and internalized and externalized racism, classism, ablism, and queerphobia?

Remerging on our own terms allows us the opportunity resist those things that harm and to create anew those things that heal, so that when we do reenter there is room for us all. In our Creator’s kingdom, but also in the kingdom we create while we are still here, there is plenty good room.

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