In 2010, Christine Elbert was walking through the Pride Festival with a friend, and it took her 45 minutes to get through the throngs of folks wanting to say hello. Impatient to get another drink, the friend quipped, “We gotta wait for Lesbian Moses over here parting the Red Sea.”
Somehow, “Lesbian Moses” quickly morphed into “Lesbian Jesus,” and the moniker stuck, perhaps because of how effectively it reflects her role in the community.
Today, Elbert is a 53-year-old lesbian, a feminist and a mother figure to many trying to find their way in the world. Sober for 32 years, Elbert is widely known for helping lift people up when they’re at rock bottom.
“Elbert saved my life,” asserts Kendal Hillman. “She won’t take credit for it, she just tells me I did the work and glosses over the part about her showing me the way. That’s the beauty of Christine.” Hillman goes on to say, “She opens her heart and her home to those who need her, and all she asks in return is honesty and a willingness to do the right thing. She doesn’t do it for the recognition, and I can only imagine her level of discomfort hearing how impactful she truly has been. Christine loves wholeheartedly because it’s who she is, and in turn, she teaches the next generation how to take care of each other. The world is, and will continue to be, a better place because of Christine Elbert.”
Elbert speaks of chosen family and hopes that the young gays, lesbians, transgender and nonbinary humans who are expanding our rainbow umbrella understand that none of us has all the answers and that we need to work together to create our safe spaces. Our lesbian feminists — our Christines, if you will — stood shoulder to shoulder toe to toe with their trans sisters of color to ignite the modern LGBT rights movement, cared for and then lost friends to AIDS in the early ’80s and ’90s, fought to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and aligned with their sisters to participate in simultaneous women’s marches across the world; they paved the way for us.
“When you are asked to help, you say, ‘Yes.’” Elbert lives by this. She reminds herself to step up and continues to find inspiration in the actions of our elders and the wisdom of others. Elbert shares these words from Antoine de Saint-Exupery: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
And she asks you, “What can you do to help?”