A Gay Winter Holiday
For each of the past six years, I and small clusters of people have lit six colored candles to bring in the New Year. They are the colors of the gay community's Rainbow Flag; they are the colors of the chakras; they are the colors of the great evolutionary Spiral. And this year, on December 31, I will once again remember, honor, hope, and heal.
I've been reminded time and again by well-meaning onlookers that new traditions need to evolve organically and not by fiat. Since I published newspaper columns and blogged about the Bridge of Light, I've wondered if anyone else is lighting the candles. I've heard at times from dozens of individuals who have kept the tradition, and had my spirit lifted.
But at other times, I've felt this was a quixotic, virtually impossible chance at shifting gay culture into more mature and evolutionary practices as well as shift American and world cultures into fuller appreciation of the LGBT community's spiritual dignity and distinctiveness. What am I really hoping to achieve? And what sort of crazy idea is this as a way of shifting culture?
Bridge of Light 101
Before I dive into these questions, this is what you need to know. The holiday was founded in 2004 as a winter solstice celebration called Yuletide and by the next year was renamed Bridge of Light and moved to the New Year. Soon thereafter it allied with the World Spirituality Day, an event founded by the San Francisco-based Integrative Spirituality about the same time. World Spirituality Day is imagined by some as "The Earth Day for the Spirit," and Bridge of Light is imagined as the distinctive LGBT community contribution to the international holiday.
The central tradition for Bridge of Light is the lighting of candles in six colors, one for each color of the rainbow flag. According to followers of the tradition, each candle honors a universal spiritual principle. In 2009, with the assistance of Kittredge Cherry, the principles were defined as follows: