Less than forty days remain before the Bridge of Light, the LGBT winter cultural event on December 31, 2009, now in its fifth year. You are invited to bring in the New Year by dedicating yourself to continuing and developing the spiritual heritage of the gay community.
The Bridge of Light tradition is part of the 7th annual World Spirituality Day, an event sponsored by an unaffiliated group: Integrative Spirituality, a not-for-profit omni-denominational spiritual organization based in San Francisco, California. World Spirituality Day is regarded by some as “The Earth Day for the Spirit.”
Just as Earth Day is celebrated worldwide now, in many different ways, World Spirituality Day allows for a kaleidoscope of worldwide gatherings and events, big and small, year after year. Bridge of Light is one such type of event, celebrated by members of the LGBT community.
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: Creativity (by lighting a purple candle), Freedom (a red candle), Integrity (a blue candle), Self-Reliance (an orange candle), Harmony (a green candle), and Love (a yellow candle).
Like Kwanza, the holiday honoring African-American heritage first celebrated in 1966, Bridge of Light is a cultural celebration, not a religious one. Endorsers of the holiday include individuals from many different faith traditions and none.
Joe Perez, founder of the Bridge of Light holiday, says: “Today, New Year’s Eve is a mostly secular experience, yet for centuries the world’s wisdom traditions have recognized this one day as a special gateway between the old and the new, the sacred and the profane. Bridge of Light honors the unique way that Homophiles throughout the centuries have lived with spiritual dignity and beauty.”
According to Perez, the Bridge of Light is a symbol recognizing the hidden unity veiled by the many colors of the rainbow, the symbol most closely associated with the gay rights movement worldwide. As important as it is to appreciate the diversity of unique colors, it is also important to recognize our commonalities and dignity as human beings, he says.
Perez’s book, Soulfully Gay (Integral Books/Shambhala, 2007), tells the story of Bridge of Light’s origins. The first celebration was a simple gathering of friends, straight and gay, at Perez’s home, where each shared their visions of how things would be if they were the way they ought to be in the world. That year, 2004, the holiday was called Yuletide.
“Since the publication of my book Soulfully Gay two years ago,” said Perez, “I have heard from more men and women than ever before who want to begin celebrating Bridge of Light with their friends and family. Those of us with children are especially excited about the chance to educate children about the spiritual heritage of same-sex couples throughout history, and to bring in the New Year with a simple and ennobling ritual suitable for all ages.”
The first Bridge of Light events were celebrated by small clusters of people on at least two continents in 2004. Celebrations have been observed in the United States, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. Today, nobody knows how many people celebrate the tradition.
New this year: a Facebook group “Bridge of Light” that anyone can join and upload ideas for celebrating the tradition. Also, for more information, check out http://www.integrallygay.com, Joe Perez’s Weblog, for updates related to the Bridge of Light tradition.
Endorsers of the Bridge of Light: Greg DiStefano, Carolyn Baker, David Rappaport, Andrew Ramer, Kip Dollar, Jim Toevs, Jacob Staub, Jim Marion, Fenton Johnson, Daniel Helminiak, Jari Dvorak, Greg Martinez, Scott Dillard, Craig Harwood, Rev. Koshin Paley Ellison, John Ditman, Ko Imani, Paul Browde, M.D., Cami Delgado, Toby Johnson, George S. Russell, and Joe Perez.