PHOTOS: If you’re not Christian, you might have been startled by the sight of so many people with black smudges on their forehead this week. No, it wasn’t a Walking Dead convention, it was Ash Wednesday, signfiying the beginning of Lent.
Many LGBT Christians feel particularly strained from their faith on days like Ash Wednesday, but the group Presbyterian Welcome brought the sacrament to New York’s Union Square, where they distributed ashes and offered prayers.
Queer videographer and Howard Stern Show regular Joey Boots approached the group, and was surprised by their reaction. I
n a piece for the Huffington Post, Presbyterian Welcome’s John Stanger explains:
When Joey Boots approached us, clutching a video camera with green-lacquered finger tips, it was clear he was expecting a less than warm reception. “So, you’re giving out ashes?” “Yes, would you like some?” “Well, I’m gay!” he offered proudly and defiantly.
We, being a group of queers and allies, laughed openly. “You’ve come to the right place. Most of us are too.” Joey appeared a little caught off guard. “It’s kind of what we do,” I offered, directing his attention to the Presbyterian Welcome logo on our sign.
…Before departing, Joey made a request, possibly trying to see just how far he could push this strange breed of Christians loitering outside of the subway station. He wanted ashes, not in the form of the cross, but spelling out “gay.” We were about as surprised as when he announced his sexuality. Kimberly Knight reached up with her pinky finger and carefully etched “gay” into Joey’s forehead with the ashes of Palm Sunday.
Joey chalked up his request to an artistic statement, but I experienced it as a theological claim and reconciling act. I hope somewhere beneath the history of what the church has done to him, he did too.
Vatican City might want to check out what sharing God’s love really looks like.