Finding Jesus at Gay Pride

DSC_0001I’m remembering our time at Gay Pride in Cincinnati this afternoon, and all our amazing volunteers who made the day such a success.  Was it really three whole weeks ago?  It was.

Gay Pride is one of our regular events at LOVEboldly.  We go in hopes of emulating the Jesus we love.  We go to hang out with the folks who are the least likely for church-folks to hang out with, to offer our friendships and love, to show kindness to those who have, perhaps, only been met with God’s anger or condemnation.

I’ve been to more gay pride events than I can count now, but this year was different.  Just two weeks prior to Cincinnati Pride, a man had entered a gay club on Pride night in Orlando and killed 49 precious folks like those we knew we’d be hanging out with.  He wasn’t a Christian, but many have conjectured that his killing rampage was religiously-motivated and, whether right or wrong, many have wondered how conservative Christian theology is much different than that which inspired his actions that horrible night.

Would LGBTQ+ folks even want Christians around at Pride, this year? Or would we just be a reminder of past pain and hurt experienced in religious communities? Would LGBTQ+ folks even want Christians around at Pride, this year? Or would we just be a reminder of past pain and hurt experienced in religious communities? Could we blame them if they were angry, if they lashed out?  Would our presence be healing, or would it just pick at an old scab that was not yet healed, causing deeper scars, more bad blood between us?  Would our hopes of helping bring healing to our divides or just inflict more hurt?

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What Straight Christians Don’t Know About Gay Pride

Photo of Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay-rights movement, 2012, by Daniel Case, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stonewall_Inn_2012_with_gay-pride_flags_and_banner.jpg

Photo of Stonewall Inn, birthplace of the modern gay-rights movement, 2012, by Daniel Case, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Stonewall_Inn_2012_with_gay-pride_flags_and_banner.jpg

The post below is by my friend, Kim Messick.  Kim is married and the mother of three young adults.  She did not grow up in church, but when she married, she began attending a conservative church with her husband. She has been attending the same church for 27 years, and has served as an elder there until 2015. It was there that Kim and I met. The elders at her church began working with LOVEboldly several years ago, trying to create a more welcoming place for those LGBTQ people in their community, and so we became to be friends.

Some time after our first few meetings, about a year and a half ago, Kim was shocked to discover this “issue” we had all been discussing with one another had become very personal when her daughter came out to the family. Kim started a blog to share her journey, and to provide resources for people who are trying to work out their faith, and their love for their LGBTQ family, friends, and neighbors.  You can (and should!) follow her blog at: graceandasafeplace.wordpress.com/

When I invited Kim to participate in our series this month for LGBTQ Pride, she discovered that there are lots of misconceptions that straight, conservative Christians have about Pride.  So she shares here what she wants straight Christians to learn about Gay Pride.  Continue reading

Does Gay Pride Matter?

Photo by Frankie Fouganthin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Frankie Fouganthin (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Today marks the beginning of LGBT Pride Month and, as such, I want to share with you several voices from LGBTQ folks and those who love them, as they reflect on Gay Pride.  You’ll hear a variety of perspectives in the weeks to come, some grateful for the Gay Pride celebration, and even one or two that don’t have a real appreciation for the event.  We’ve done this series in past years too, with even more wonderful voices. You can read some of our past posts on this topic herehere, here, here, and here.

For some Christians, particularly those of you who do not believe God blesses gay relationships, Gay Pride might seem like a sinful event – like a flaunting of immorality. News stories and YouTube videos show off the most shocking parts of the event, painting a picture that Gay Pride is a public celebration of promiscuous sex, drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

For most of my life, this is what I believed Gay Pride to be.  But after I began to meet and befriend LGBTQ folks, I discovered that Gay Pride holds much deeper meaning and importance to many in the LGBT+ community than what I had previously understood. Their reasons for celebrating Gay Pride are varied, important, and often based on a history of physical abuse and persecution of which many of us straight folks may not even be aware.  For conservatively-minded Christians, listening to LGBTQ voices speak about Pride is one practical way we can practice loving and understanding the LGBTQ community.  So, if you know someone who is LGBTQ, I challenge you to ask them this month, “What do you think about Gay Pride and why?”  Just ask, and listen, with no judgment. And when they ask why you want to know, tell them you’re just trying to understand them better.  Continue reading