It started with a green corduroy dress. She was 6 years old and her own clothes were in the dryer. "Put this on," the babysitter said.
"I put on that dress and I was like a shining star. I was so pretty, the dress was so pretty. I could not wait to show Mama. When she drove up I bounced out the door. Twirling, I said, 'Mama, look at me!' Her eyes flashed lightning bolts and smoke came out of her ears. 'Get back in the house and take that dress off right now,' she screamed at me. I started hiding then."
Dee Dee was a girl living in a boy's body, hiding in plain sight, fearful of discovery and the rage that would accompany it.
Years later, Dee Dee discovered God at a dark and lonely time -- barely surviving, unable to keep a job. "I was so down, but the Spirit came and found me. 'I see you. I know you. I love you,' the Spirit said. 'O God, you love me?' It changed my life. If God loves me, then I can love me, too!"
According to tradition, King David wrote Psalm 139 in a time of despair.
"I am an open book to you [God]; even from a distance you know what I'm thinking. ... I'm never out of your sight. ... Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? ... You knew exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something." (Psalm 139, The Message)
God sees us, knows all about us, and loves us. As a Christian pastor and a straight black woman, I get out of bed each day deeply believing what the Psalmist says: Each of us is "body and soul ... marvelously made."
The first time Dee Dee went to a real job as herself, she was 38 years old. "I was on the train heading for work, to my own desk in an HIV/AIDS support center. I was euphoric. Crossing the street, I realized I was at the corner where I used to work, in and out of cars, trying to survive. God's love helped me off that corner. When I go to work, people say, 'Ms. Dee Dee, you look like you won the lottery.' I say, 'I did. God loves me!'"
If pralines could speak, I think they would sound like Dee Dee. She is Southern charm and grace. She was formed, inside and outside, by a loving God who saw her in the corduroy dress, recognized her, and loved her fiercely and completely.
What if we loved each other fiercely, like God loves each of us?
The Collegiate Churches of New York believe in this fierce love. We share a theology of "Love. Period." To be transparent, love is all that matters. You are welcome, just as you are, to come and celebrate Pride Month with us. And on June 28, march for Pride with us down Fifth Avenue. We will not rest until there is fierce love and justice for all of our LGBTQ family. We will keep marching to realize this dream.