ELM Blog: Dance On, Beloveds by Rev Kelsey Brown

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O’Shea Sibley loved to dance. It came out of his pores. Just even looking at the pictures and videos that have been shared since his life was cut short you can see it. He was made to move. He was created to share his gift – and boy did he share it. 

O’Shea was freedom, when the world had placed shackles on his feet. He was joy, in the face of horror and despair. He was love, and for him and his beloved community, Vogue was so much more than a Madonna song, or a jaded fad. For O’Shea and their siblings it was life. Renaissance and Beyonce’s nod to the Ballroom community made them (and me) feel seen and valued. It gave life. Heck… it still does because If I know anything about the vogue category… it doesn’t stop. If I know anything about the ballroom community – it doesn’t stop, no matter the forces of oppression that try to snatch away its crowns and dull its shine 

Ball culture and the houses which call its halls home are not just a commodity. They’re not some ancient relic from the 1980’s and 90’s, not a pastime, not wiped out by the AIDS epidemic only to be revived for tv profit. For the community, those houses and the families found within their doors are a beacon, a bright light in a mineshaft.  For our Black and Brown siblings in particular, they are a refuge, a welcome shelter from the storm.

When a hate crime is committed, especially towards a member of our own LGBTQ2SIA+ community it can be easy to hide away in fear. To be shamed and scared back into the closet… or into the shadows. That’s what they want – those who would try to hurt us.. those who sometimes succeed.

O’Shea never lived life in the shadows – even up until the moment he was taken from this world he was cutting up, he was oozing joy… he was caring for his community, he was putting his body, elegant lines, whirling motion, and all on the line. He stood up for his chosen family and was struck down for it. 

Today and every day forward we honor his life and the lives of all those Black and Brown bodies who didn’t make the headlines. We march for him, we cry out for him, and we DANCE FOR HIM.

O’Shea Sibley’s life mattered. It was complex and joyful. It was camp and extra.
it was worth all this life had to offer and we will not rest, we recommit ourselves to the work of making sure this doesn’t happen again. And we will push back against those who attempt to use his death as an excuse for Islamophobic hate. 

We gathered at that same Mobil station where on July 29th our sibling was struck down – a ball hosted by BlackTransLiberationKitchen– where we danced and shouted and gave thanks to God that O’Shea was with us and for us – and that we were with him. 

Each dip will be a blessing, each pose and chant a hallelujah, each fan clack an Amen. 

Rev. Kelsey Brown (she/her) describes herself as sometimes funny, frequently anxious, and completely committed to the liberation of all marginalized persons. Hailing from Suffolk County, Long Island, New York – she comes equipped with the accent & attitude to back it up. In her free time Pastor Kelsey can be found at the beach with a book of spoken word poetry, breaking it down on the dance floor, and exploring with Christian ritual creation. She believes with her full heart that God’s delight in diversity is call for us all to embrace the fullness of humanity.

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