Twist, Miami Beach. Photo: Jesse Dong

Today’s Reading (a poem/liturgy):

I lift my arms 
And move my body
I close my eyes
Take in the music.
Praise be.
We sing out loud
Next to each other,
My friends and I,
We are with family.
Praise be.
I’m filled with joy
Hope for the future
A sense of peace
Let my worries go
Praise be.
----

“Let’s go worship at church.”

It’s funny how this phrase has two completely different meanings depending on which community I’m in. Uttered in my bible study group it refers to sitting in rows singing praise songs in a converted office building on a Sunday morning. Uttered in my gay dodgeball team (we’re called the Deep Throwers) it refers to dancing to pop and dance music Saturday night on the crowded dance floor at Saloon, a local gay bar downtown.

To some Christians this use of “worship” and “church” might seem heretical and blasphemous, but worship connects us with and responds to the divine and powerful God who is greater than us. Worship accepts us where we are at, for who we are. Worship can be between a person and God, but can also be communal and affect others. Traditionally, gay bars have a history as functioning as a cultural institution similar to church.

In my experience, gay bars are a safe space for those in the LGBTQ community to gather where we can experience the goodness and love of God, even if we don’t label it as such. In gay bars we are not judged for who we are, but embraced as we are. And on the dance floor, with the music blaring, in the middle of crowd, we can get lost in something bigger than us. Being in a place where we feel we can belong reminds us that we are part of something good – something powerful – something resilient. We may not know what tomorrow brings, but we give thanks for what we have now and experience hope for the future ahead.

And so we dance.

Plexus A1 by Gabriel Dawe
Photo: Dae Jeong

Reflection

Reread the poem at the beginning in the light of a gay club. Reflect on the sacred places in your community that those in the ‘church’ may deem as profane or blasphemous and how connection to God is present there.

  • Author Bio: Jesse Dong (he/him/his) works as a public defender in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a second generation immigrant and is continually inspired by his parents work supporting their local Chinese immigrant community. He is an extreme extrovert and loves cooking, singing, and being active outdoors.

  • Dae Jeong (he/him/his) is a pastor turned photographer and SAHD in Maryland. You can follow more of his work at eyeglassphoto.com or @eyeglassphoto on Instagram.