Gay Pride was that thing that happened about seven weeks ago. I’ve struggled to figure out how exactly to provide an adequate recap for the day filled with apologizing to the LGBT community for how the church has historically treated them.
The first thing I want to say is a gigantic “Thank You!” to every single one of our volunteers and supporters for this event. Thanks to your help and generosity, the day went off without a hitch and we were privileged to offer hundreds of apologies and give out tons of free stuff (Literally – tons. It had to be well over 2000 free things we gave out).
We set up our booth directly across from the good folks at PFLAG (an organization you should definitely check out if you have friends or family members in the LGBT community and want support/resources). Our booth was co-sponsored by Embrace Church who has been a big support to us from day one. We gave out free hugs, free apologies, free ice-pops (a welcome relief from the heat), free fans, free prayer, and apology cards from the Marin Foundation.
We donned bright green “I’m Sorry” T-Shirts and hung signs all around our booth owning and apologizing for the ways Christians have been jerks. On the backs, the shirts read:
That we have not loved you with our whole heart.
We have failed to be an obedient church.
We have not loved our neighbors,
and we have not heard the cry of the needy.
To sum it up, the day was equal measures of exhilarating and exhausting. The heat was nearly unbearable and the day was emotionally intense, filled with lots of new connections, some heavy questions and stories, and plenty of transformative interactions. Our awesome volunteers were troopers through the heat and the long day. Check out one of our fearless leaders, Christy, donning the gear.
We also signed the Pride Truck with an apology: LOVEboldly – We’re sorry! Jesus loves gays!
The responses we got to our apologies were telling. Most people were confused. “What are you sorry for?” they’d ask. When they realized our intent, most people were just really happy to hear it. Some people were touched. And then there were a good many folks who were completely skeptical. I remember a few folks who stood in our booth for a good while in near complete silence. The weight of what they weren’t saying was telling, the stories behind the silence hung heavy in the air. We enjoyed conversation with one another, passed along our info, and thanked them for taking time to stop by. We are planning some follow-up coffee dates with folks who just really didn’t know whether or not to believe our intent.
In between loaded conversations, chugging back water and gatorades to keep from heat-stroke, and frolicking around the grounds giving away free stuff and meeting people, we ran through fountains, ate deliciously greasy carnival-like food, shared laughter and joy and some burdens, got to pray with some folks, and I took a couple dunks in the dunk-tank. I couldn’t resist. Seriously. It was hot. Did I mention that before? This was that moment when I thought better about climbing into the tank – 2 seconds before taking a splash. It felt GOOD!
My favorite part of the day might have actually been the after-party. After Pride every year, the gay bars get packed out. It is the single best opportunity, in my humble opinion, to go out and mingle with folks, and to let conversations get a bit deeper. A few of us went out to a couple of the bars and it was the conversations I had that night that really stuck with me. New friendships were formed sitting outside the bars and shooting the breeze with folks. Some folks recognized me from our booth, which led to some great conversation and me having the opportunity to hear people’s stories. I love that. It’s probably the best part of my job.
All in all, Pride was an amazing experience thanks completely to all of your love, support, encouragement, generosity, and prayers. Thank you all. We couldn’t have done it without you!