March 1 was Ash Wednesday, the day that marks the beginning of Lent. In churches across the country, parishioners came to be blessed with ashes from palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. The ashes are placed in the form of a cross on the forehead.
However, this year many churches mixed their ashes with purple glitter in a show of solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
The faith-based LGBT advocacy group Parity, which created the project said it felt it was a perfect way to represent the inclusion of LGBT people in Christian life.
The group wrote on its website, “Glitter is an inextricable element of queer history. It is how we have displayed our gritty, scandalous hope. We make ourselves fabulously conspicuous, giving offense to the arbiters of respectability that allow coercive power to flourish.
Glitter+Ash is an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration. Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent, a season of repentance. During Lent, Christians look inward and take account in order to move forward with greater health. At this moment in history, glitter ashes will be a powerful reminder of St. Augustine’s teaching that we cannot despair because despair paralyzes, thwarting repentance and impeding the change that we are called to make.
Glitter+Ash exquisitely captures the relationship between death and new life. We do not live in fear of ash – of death – we place it on our foreheads for the world to see. We know that fear will rise, cramping our hearts. We also know that God specifically calls us not to project that fear onto the Other, the alien, the stranger in our midst. God insists that we look for the spark of life, of hope, in ourselves and one another. This Ash Wednesday, we will make that spark easier to see. We will stand witness to the gritty, glittery, scandalous hope that exists in the very marrow of our tradition.”
“People are responding with such joy that they can show their faith and show that they are LGBT,” Rev. Marian Edmonds-Allen, executive director of Parity told the Washington Post. “LGBT people are people of faith, too. … On the day, Ash Wednesday, when Christians are publicly Christian, we are going to be publicly queer.”
Parity also called on heterosexual supporters of LGBT inclusion to take part in the glitter ashes ceremony.