Greater NW Pride: LGBTQ+ People and the Caravan


Being LGBTQ and the Caravan

With Thanksgiving before us, focusing on the religious pilgrims who sought freedom to practice their religion, and their first harvest meal in October 1621, that we now honor as a nation with a federal holiday. 90 native people and 53 settlers attended the first harvest festival that became our Thanksgiving. In light of this holiday, as a nation we are also aware that more settlers are on the border of California and Mexico, as a caravan of thousands of people seeking asylum from the murderous terror that has gripped many communities in various countries that make up Central America. Much news was made of this caravan of people who have walked over 1,000 miles in the pre-election hype of the 2018 mid-term elections. 
What was lost now and then was the story of a splinter caravan group made up of 400 LGBTQ people who were fleeing violence and discrimination back home because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. What was incredible was that many of these LGBTQ people banded together not only from the violence and lack of work in their home country, but because they were preyed upon by other migrants and travelers on this caravan. The LGBQ people have experienced physical abuse amid catcalls threatening their very lives. Rodrigo Abd of the Associated Press writes that LGBTQ people are “being murdered, assaulted and discriminated against, due to their gender identity or sexual orientation” (Associated Press, Nov. 13, 2018).  What was sweet was a wedding between 23-year-old Erick Dubon and Pedro Nehemias (22) from Honduras got married in Tijuana, Mexico (The Independent, Colin Drury, Nov. 18, 2018). 
In looking at the church press coverage of the caravan, I noticed a dearth of articles on this most noteworthy subject. Indeed, by and large the Church has been silent about this splinter group of LGBTQ people who are vulnerable and prone to being victims of violence, both in their own countries and also on the caravan. Yet these LGBTQ people are just like the original pilgrims to this land: they are seeking asylum, and a safe place for them to live, grow, contribute to the greater good, get married perhaps, have children, and live long and prosperous lives. It is my hope that in the future, the church will not only care for the LGBTQ refugees who are roaming this earth, but celebrate the lives and loves of those of us who are LGBTQ people.

Brett Webb-Mitchell
Rev. Dr. Brett Webb-Mitchell is an openly gay Presbyterian pastor in the Portland area serving as the part-time LGBTQ+ advocacy coordinator for The Oregon-Idaho Conference of the UMC. He can be reached at brett@umoi.org. Become a subscriber to the Greater NW Pride blog to get Greater NW Pride in your email box!