Ash Wednesday is the day that kicks off the first day of Lent, and the ensuing Christian (mostly Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian) traditions during which worshippers will fast and, of course, wear ashes on their forehead. Today, however, you may notice that some people have glitter mixed into their ashes.
Several churches and other sites worldwide are hosting "Glitter+Ash Wednesday" today to promote LGBTQ inclusion and visibility.
Parity, the New York-based organization that started the initiative, says it wanted to incorporate glitter because it is "an inextricable element of queer history."
"It is how we have displayed our gritty, scandalous hope," says a statement on the Parity website. "Glitter+Ash is an inherently queer sign of Christian belief, blending symbols of mortality and hope, of penance and celebration."
Several churches and Christian LGBTQ organizations are participating in Glitter+Ash Wednesday in cities worldwide, according to an event map on Parity's website. Numerous churches in New York, Boston, Toronto, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Liverpool and more will be have the option for worshippers to be blessed with ashes made from makeup-grade glitter mixed with traditional ashes.
"We're very committed to being a radically inclusive church, and so it was an obvious 'yes,'" she told DNA Info. "I'm really committed to making sure the Lincoln Square community knows there [are] safe spaces for everyone... to making sure that people feel loved."
Glitter+Ash Wednesday is an initiative that speaks to some churches' willingness to progress and include and accept their queer members. Earlier this year, a Christian group began making steps to formally apologize to LGBTIQ Christians, following Pope Francis' statement last year calling for the Roman Catholic Church to "seek forgiveness from homosexuals for the way they had treated them." Hopefully, more churches will follow in these footsteps to become more inclusive and welcoming to LGBTQ members.