What does Lent mean for a Black queer Catholic?

Views Tevin V. Williams / February 21, 2023 Print this:
Photo courtesy of Unsplash/Thays Orrico

Through the Bible, God calls each of us to be many things all at once. God calls us to be “children of light” while sending us into a world filled with “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Eph. 5:8; Mt. 7:15). Much is asked of Christians as we face the everyday hardships of our lives. 

Lent is, hands down, my favorite time of the liturgical year. As a Black queer Catholic, the world is currently handing me a lot, especially when it comes to seeing evil. As the recent murderers of Tyre Nichols and Keenan Anderson demonstrate, the past year has given my soul much to bear, as I watch my own country continue to disvalue Black lives. 

Moreover, I consistently witness murders of Black trans women rise nationwide, in conjunction with multiple attacks on the Black queer community. These are attacks designed to silence us and project the false claim that we are not “children of God.” In the midst of this, I have to remind myself that hope of Easter and God’s sacrifice is for all of us, no matter our race, gender, ethnicity or background. God sent His only son to die for all.

For Lent this year, I’m giving up one specific burden in my heart and soul: the people who do not care about Black and queer lives. Whether they are openly speaking hatred or imposing micro-aggressions upon my daily life, I am not going to let the people who anger me control my thoughts. To quote the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” 

As Lent also coincides with Black History Month, I also think of the civil rights movement. I think of people like my father and my grandfather, both of whom experienced first hand the sin of racism in rural south Georgia. As a young queer Black male millennial in the South, I’ve had my own experiences with racism. But I continue to keep the faith and remind myself of a specific biblical passage.

For Lent this year…I am not going to let the people who anger me control my thoughts

In the Book of Ecclesiastes, we read: “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful, but time and chance happen to them all” (9:11). This passage encompasses all that I mentioned earlier about the world today.

While we cannot predict the future, God is the same today, tomorrow and every day that we live. He has brought people from despair in the past and will continue to do so, even in my lifetime as a queer Black Catholic. 

Where can we look for hope in a dark time? For me, it is in the fact that God is the same every day, and Lent testifies to this. God sent His son to die for all of us: straight, gay, Black, white. His love is never ending, and when we see people who do not believe as strongly as we do, or who may stand in our way, we know that God loves them too. 

As I work to not be spiteful towards people who do not understand me, I pray for these people as well. This Lenten season, I will focus on how I can be a better and truer disciple of Christ. 

Tevin V. Williams

Tevin V. Williams is the director of community and external affairs to U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.). Mr. Williams holds a B.F.A. in mass media from Valdosta State University in Georgia.

All articles by Tevin V. Williams

Outreach is part of America Media. To support Outreach you can make a donation or subscribe to America.