ELM Pride Blog Series: By Bishop Brenda Bos

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We are Family!
By Bishop Brenda Bos

“We are Family! I got all my sistahs with me!” 

“We Are Family” was and is a beloved Pride anthem and a monster hit, rising up in the middle of my teenage years. Yes, children, I am THAT old. The age of disco may not have had cell phones, but we did have running water and cars, and on a Saturday night I might have taken a hot shower and gotten into my Ford Capri and gone dancing with my friends, many of whom, surprise, surprise, were gay men. 

This was the age of cocaine, which I did not use; I wasn’t even a drinker, but hyped up on Diet Coke and friendship, I danced and sang this anthem at the top of my lungs. 

“All the people around us they say 
‘Can they be that close?’
Just let me state for the record
We’ve giving love in a family dose.”

Yes, siblings in Christ, my fabulous rainbow clan, we are family. You may not know “She’s family” used to be code for “She’s queer too.” It came right after the lousy euphemism “My uncle has a friend” and before my least favorite, when we referred to partners as “lovers.” I mean, the term “lover” is a positive one, but always felt a little more illicit than I preferred. 

“No we don’t get depressed
Here’s what we call our golden rule
Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family jewel.”

OK, so this is a great gay anthem, always brings down the house. But WOW doesn’t have a compelling theological call? We are always trying to preach and teach we are the family of God, beloved children of our Heavenly Parent, Jesus is a brother and friend…. But most of us have experienced the true pain of not being family – either literally among our flesh and blood, or figuratively as we are not welcome in congregations, schools, peer groups, etc. To be honest, I never understand how people in the Lutheran church, steeped in the confessions of grace, can ever say I am not welcome among them. Am I not a beloved child of God? Are we not joined together as the Body of Christ? In Christ Jesus are we not all one? 

“We are family
Get up everybody and sing
We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family”

So the LGBTQ community embraced this song for all the right reasons (and the fact its always fun to say “Sister Sledge”!) and I pray someday the church will embrace this song fully too. Sing it loud and proud, beloveds: Because of God’s grace in your life, because of the power of the Holy Spirit:

“Have faith in you and the things you do
You won’t go wrong
This is our family jewel.” 
Adopted by God, beloved by our Creator. You are the jewel. You are the prize. You are family. 

Brenda Bos (she/her) is the first openly lesbian bishop elected in the ELCA. She serves the Southwest California Synod, whose territory sits on the homeland of eleven indigenous peoples and includes the Hollywood sign, “The Valley”, coastal cities, farmland and urban deserts. She and her wife Janis spend their free time hiking with their dogs and making their house more fun for their young granddaughter. 

One Reply to “ELM Pride Blog Series: By Bishop Brenda Bos”

  1. Bishop, I love this reflection! I’ve played Sisters Sledge doing “We Are Family” a couple of times and want to repost for PRIDE weekend about to begin in the Twin Cities. I’m the same vintage as the singers (1951) and it feels strange to hear you were a teenager.

    Sending my love and prayers as you continue your fabulous ministry.

    Thanks for being a sister. We are family.

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