Why We Need A Glitter Ash Wednesday
By Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen
Parity, a national LGBTQ, faith based nonprofit, is promoting Glitter Ash Wednesday as an opportunity for queer and queer positive Christians to “come out” as both faith affirming and LGBTQ affirming. In 2017 over 200 churches and faith groups in 3 countries, 29 states and 12 denominations participated, though the impact was far beyond that, with international media reports that reached 200 million readers and viewers. Glitter Ashes was named by several media outlets as “a new movement” and was called “the most talked about event of 2017 Lent.”
While Glitter Ashes were received with enthusiasm by most, there are also those who are sharply critical, saying that the action “mocks a somber time” and is “blasphemy.” Under these protestations is a common theme – that queer people aren’t allowed to be people of faith, to be followers of Jesus. And that is our point: queer Christians are deeply faithful, and too often hidden from view because of the hatred and rejection that they too often receive from both the faith community and the queer community. It’s not popular to be a queer Christian, and yet, millions persist.
Glitter Ash Wednesday is a time to find others who share this story of faith, with one small church welcoming 75 brand new queer people to attend their service. Street actions were especially popular, as The Reverend Sarah Buteux describes:
“I stood outside on the sidewalk in front of our church for an hour at noon and offered people ashes. I’ve done this for the last 3 years, but this year was different. If people stopped, I told them I had regular ashes and glitter ashes in solidarity with the queer Christian community. If they wanted to know more, I told them that if anyone can teach us how to live with boldness and flair and courage in the face of death, it is the queer community.
People’s responses varied from tears to joy to one woman who said, “F*ck yeah! I’m for the glitter ashes.” Even for those who ultimately declined, it was a sign of hope and inclusion and the church being the church in the world with gentleness and love. I spoke the traditional words over each head – ‘remember your are dust and to dust you shall return,’ and then blessed each person by name telling them that though they were only dust and matter, they were dust of great matter to God. It was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday for me and an opportunity to witness with winsomeness to the unconditional love of God.”
This Ash Wednesday, is there a little bit of sparkle in your eye, if not on your forehead?
Sparkle and shine with us, as we celebrate queer lives of faith and courage.
Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen is the Executive Director of Parity, a faith-based organization that works to empower LGBTQ and allied people as they explore the intersections of their spiritual, gender and sexual identities.