On the 27th of June we had a special celebration of LGBT+ diversity at our local church in Málaga. The theme of the service was “Love always wins” (el amor siempre vence”); we prayed together, thanked God for the diverse types of human love that enrich our communities and societies, and sang beautiful classic and new hymns/songs that celebrate God’s love for all of us. The service took place on Pride Day and we had a full house, with an overwhelming and joyful presence of LGBT+ folk in the congregation, for whom this was their first ever experience of an inclusive Christian celebration.
The following week, we were all on a bit of a high, still savouring the excitement and sweetness of our diversity service, until the news of Samuel broke on all TV channels and social media. Samuel Luiz, a 24 year old gay man from A Coruña (in the northwest of Spain), had been brutally killed by a mob of young men at the shouts of “faggot” (“maricón”). They kicked his head and face so many times that he was totally unrecognizable. His friends couldn’t do anything to stop it, and the ambulance arrived just too late to save his life. It was a horrific crime that brought thousands of LGBT+ folk to the streets of every city and town in Spain to grief his death and cry out for justice. This homophobic murder, sadly, is not an isolated event in 21st century liberal and inclusive Spain, the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage (after Canada)! We continue to pray for Samuel’s family and his friends, and for an end to all kinds of phobias and violence.
And in the midst of this darkness, yesterday evening we saw a shining light. In our little church in Málaga, we celebrated our first ever same-sex wedding. Tania and Imara, two Nicaraguan women who fled their country after being threatened to death by homophobic gangs, made their vows before God and a large gathering of friends and church members. It was a beautiful and moving celebration of love, and a real privilege to share this moment of their journey with them, and many of their friends in Nicaragua via zoom. We pray for these brave and special women and their two sons as they settle in Spain and make their home among us. We also pray that Spain will continue to be a sanctuary for folk who flee persecution and violence for any reason in any part of the world.