What a beautiful man. Cleve Jones co-founded The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and came up with the idea for the AIDS Memorial Quilt. He is a pioneer for LGBTQ+ people and an absolute hero to me.

In the final chapter of his autobiography, When We Rise, he writes, “It is easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges that face us. It is easy to be cynical. It is easy to despair.

“That is when I remember that the movement saved my life. Twice.

“First in 1971, as a frightened teenager, when I learned of the gay liberation movement and flushed down the pills I had hoarded to end my life. Then again in 1994, when I was dying of AIDS, the movement stormed the Food and Drug Administration, confronted the pharmaceutical industry’s greed, and exposed the shameful lack of government response. The movement saved my life and gave it purpose and connected me to other people who also sought love and purpose in their lives.”

I realize that among evangelical Christians, the idea of LGBTQ+ inclusion is still new. We are still trying to win the hearts and minds of our friends and families. We are still fighting for our seat at the table, and sometimes this work can feel difficult and lonely. 

But we must remember that we are not alone, that we in fact stand on the shoulders of countless people who have given their lives to this work of inclusion and justice. All the good that is happening in #FaithfullyLGBTcircles, from Q Christian Fellowship to The Reformation Project to New Abbey to The Christian Closet is the direct result of the work of our LGBTQ+ elders. We simply would not be where we are today if it were not for their tireless work and passionate devotion to this cause. 

Thank God for Cleve Jones and all who have gone before us and paved the way for our freedom. Amen.