© 1994, 2004 by Louie Crew
What does 4th of July mean to you as a lesbigay USA Christian?
With apologies to those up nawth, down south, over yonder and down under:
Does the 4th of July mean anything to you as a lesbigay person?
At my parish tomorrow, we'll sing "America the Beautiful," not necessarily because we want to, but because in some sense we have to. Augustus Ward composed it while he was our choirmaster decades and decades ago. And Jim McGregor, our brilliant composer and choirmaster and organist for the last 40+ years, will play variations on it that would make Virgil Fox eat his heart out. And some kind soul responsible for the coffee hour may even bring hot dogs, though, more likely we will eat Caribbean, the cuisine of home for most of our parishioners.
I am about to devil the eggs I boiled earlier this afternoon, and I'll eat hot dogs on the balcony of Kim and Scott, overlooking the Hudson from NJ, directly opposite 76th street. When the sun goes down, we'll walk further down to see the full panorama towards the Verazzano Bridge and the fireworks. Ernest called from a family reunion of over 300 Clays in Macrae, Georgia, where they are celebrating early. He was in a phone booth a few feet away from Shack 17, the shack rented for the fish... You can get other goodies at 20 other shacks in the same family area of the state park.
Oh beautiful for what?
I love America because I grew up sissy in Alabama before anyone
besides Dad and me would go weekend after weekend all summer long
to virgin forests and flyfish. Dad was the only parent who had
time for any of the other kids, and often as an only child I could
recruit a whole tent full of brothers.
I love America because as someone pale peach I can go all the way round the world merely by going to bed with someone dark pecan; and while our neighbors freak out, we just snuggle closer as we grow gray and wrinkled together, in the same bed one of our ancestors may have made for another of our ancestors when it was made 250 years ago.
I love America because when I taught in Beijing and my husband came to see me my students gawked to see so clear an image of freedom beyond their wildest imaginings, all the more convincing because it was not a freedom they even needed for personally. Some of them died five years later standing up for such freedom, and one of my gay students in Hong Kong knows that same government will long remember that he made the statue of Ms. Liberty in Hong Kong's sympathy parade.
I love America because I can blast it with every criticism possible and, not have to "leave it" -- unless some mindless folks rewrite our Constitution. I love America because it preserves the idea of freedom and the talk about freedom even when it denies the possibility of freedom for most of its citizens.
I love America because I have stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon
and at the edge of Newark's vast poverty.
I love America because black people and brown people and yellow people are taking it over and promising to make something new and stronger out of it.
I love America because women don't wear the purdah here, or a least don't have to.
I love America because here I can go to the Lesbian Draino School of Social Change and it's homegrown and better than apple pie ala mode.
I love America because I don't have to live just here, but can
be schooled by friends and critics from all over the globe, even
while I sit in my underwear in font of my crt, now lavender, as someone
suggested just this week.
I love America increasingly because of what it means for people elsewhere, all too little for what it means for the masses actually here--a promise Ms. Liberty has had to reduce for so many of us to merely a whisper: "Huddle!"
I love America because within the last four hours persons of four different races have illegally jumped over the fence beside my first- floor apartment to make a quicker trek to the street below.
I love America because in 10 minutes I can walk to cheap restaurants of 5 different ethnicities.
I love America because here poetry has always been for sissies.
I love America because one day we'll expose the American Dream as just a white het male bully's nightmare and one day he'll take off his fear and enjoy just being a plain human being.
I will love America more when like Italy, we cease striving to be an Empire and settle for just being fat and loving pizza (plus chocolate and collard greens).
I love America even though America does not love me, wants me dead, wants me at the end of some bigot's lead pipe, wants my balls hanging from an ice-pick, wants my head in the stocks at the parish altar, wants me locked up in a chastity belt with Jerry Falwell and Jessie Helms holding the key. But I love America, and I'll love it more when Jerry and Jessie chill out and eat hot dogs and learn to hug each other, when Anita doesn't have to slip vodka into her orange juice, when Bob Green makes up his mind, when Kris drives her taxi right up to the White House and replaces Bill with Hillary.....
I will love America more when every Episcopal Church is known more for its love than for its money, when we're "lovapalions" rather than "whiskeypalians."
Oh beautiful, two girls holding hands in the park.
For spacious skies, to women piloting across them, and Amelia always coming back!
For amber waves of touch.
For purple mountains of bishops drag traded in for Samaritan Wells.
For fruited, fruited, fruited fields and plains.