“The pride of the peacock is the glory of God.”
“You may have noticed my painted fingernails. You can thank Ramona!” I joke to the gathered congregation as they behold via my laptop camera, this “Zoom pulpit,” the sparkly blue glittery mess that my 3-year-old has painted on my nails. I can tell, even though they’re muted, the congregation is laughing. With that out of the way I go into the sermon.
All this time in virtual space has somewhat softened our formality, but I think the same thing could have happened in person—and if Ramona ever wants to paint my nails then, of course I’d allow her to. “What a good dad,” some might say. But I have a confession: I love my nails more deeply than they understand.
Going through life with my beard and masculine name and he/him pronouns, especially when preaching from the pulpit in my black clergy robe, I just seem like a guy; a cisgender man. But that’s not who I am.
Sometimes, especially during Pride Month, I miss the days before ministry when I wore glittery skirts and gaudy sarongs and fairy wings, and painted my nails and covered myself in glitter for Pride parades or for NeoPagan rituals in the woods. I miss being so blatantly queer. Those moments were like ritual possession: as I danced, I always felt like I was animated by Something beyond myself, yet radically enfleshed in my bones and skin.
I have allowed being a professional minister to domesticate my gender expression. The Bible says “quench not the Spirit.” Is that what I’ve done?
It’s such a small thing, Ramona choosing blue glitter nail polish. She has no idea that this is the color that was once my favorite for Pride. Blue glitter makes me almost euphoric, whether on my nails or skin or hair. It’s like electric holy fire from the altar of Heaven, stolen by some queer seraphim to purify me of the closet.
Pride is sometimes about donning wings and being over-the-top, dramatically queer without fear or shame. Other times, it’s about permitting small moments of queer bliss to poke through the facade—even if it’s just messy paint from a child; even if you’re the only one who notices.
Queer Spirit, dancing blue glitter flame, I give thanks for your euphoric mystery, your endless pronouns, your delight in queering every boundary and box. Yours is the truth that makes us free. May your glitter come, your dance be done in me as it is in heaven. Amen.