By Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer
Thumpa, thumpa was the sound of sugar and salt shakers flying through the windows of the Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco during the 1966 rebellion against biased policing.
Thumpa, thumpa was the vibrating beat behind Harvey Milk’s protest against Coors Beer in 1969.
Thumpa, thumpa echoed from the sound of high heels and bricks during the 1969 raid at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.
Thumpa, thumpa was the music last heard in 1973 before thirty-one men and women died in the fire at the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans French Quarter
Thumpa, thumpa was heard in the Pulse Nightclub in 2016 before 49 people were gunned down in Orlando, Florida.
Thumpa, thumpa was heard at Ghost Ship in Oakland before the 2016 blaze killed 36.
Standing on the corner of 18th and Castro in San Francisco, with the blaring thumpa, thumpa bleeding into the street that had witnessed the first mention of HIV/AIDs, I shouted “out of the bars and into the streets.” These iconic words of Harvey Milk were a nod to the queeros who had come before me and a literal call to action for the LGBTQ community. After the Pulse shooting, I declared that we not only had to come out of the bars, but out of the congregations, synagogues and mosques to proclaim the love of God to all and to counter the angery lies of those who assumed God could not love the full fabulousness of the LGBTQ community.
Today I want to remind you that just as we have transitioned from Lent to Easter, during the season of Pride we must live boldly and forgive more boldly still. Our extravagantly fabulous life must not only mourn the aches that we carry, but embrace the sound and the rhythm of the thumpa, thumpa.
Let us dance for those who sought the joy and freedom of LGBTQ bars and were met with violence.
Let us dance long enough to decide to keep living. Let us dance for a beautiful generation that was lost to the AIDs epidemic.
Let us dance for those who brought us camp and drag, when all we could muster were tears.
Let us dance because it is our best revenge in a time when our rights are debated.
Let us dance for the liberation we are still marching towards. Let us dance in celebration of the gift that is our sacred sexuality. Let us dance because we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
Let us dance in celebration of a God who always joins us in the dancing.
Just as God came to Moses in the burning bush, to Jacob in a wrestling match, Ezekiel in dreams and Hildebrand in visions, may God find you in the thumpa, thumpa. Amen.
Bio: The Rev. Dr. Megan Rohrer is the pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church and Executive Director of Welcome – a communal response to poverty in San Francisco, CA. Pastor Megan is an author, artist, activist and educator who speaks and preaches nationally on issues of homelessness, sexuality and gender. Pastor Rohrer was a 2014 honorable mention as an Unsung Hero of Compassion with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, was named honorary royalty and presented a Medal of Tolerance in Indonesia, received an Honorary Doctorate from Palo Alto University, Distinguished Alum award from the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, is an award wining historian, musician, filmmaker and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in transgender nonfiction.