Why Pride?

From my understanding, LGBTQ Pride refers more to awareness toward equality than in actual pride for being LGBTQ, a reality for which none among us asked. Pride addresses and confronts the issue of shame, refuting and rejecting the demeaning and dehumanizing nature of shame, and stating, instead, that there is no reality for which to feel shame for being LGBTQ. Even theologically one can state that, while we are all depraved because of the Fall, there is no need to feel shame for our humanity. We are all, each one of us, created in the image of our Creator.

Moreover, because of the love of God for fallen sinners and the redemption procured by Christ, we are lifted out of a fallen context of shame: we fix our spiritual eyes on Jesus, "the originator and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2 LEB) But I, from my perspective, do not regard being LGBTQ sinful; meaning, there is no more stigma in being gay than there is in being straight, as one's sexual orientation does not dictate fallenness.

The reason for Gay Pride parades is not only to bring awareness toward equality for LGBTQ persons but also as a means to commemorate the tragic proceedings of the Stonewall riots, whereby LGBTQ people resisted and reacted against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York, in June 1969. This one event signaled the need for legislative rights of equality for LGBTQ people in this country.

New York City police had been oppressing LGBTQ people during the 1960s. At the end of the decade, this group of individuals were fed up enduring the persecution lodged against them, not only by the police but also by the Church. The following year were held the first Gay Pride marches in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. But what about the funny costumes and the near-nakedness and some of the goings-on at some of these parades? What does all that have to do with equality? I think those are most proper and excellent questions.

I in no sense condone sexual activity in public. I abide by a Christian sexual ethic that is reserved for two people who have, before God and witnesses and in Christ, committed themselves to each other for life. (Or, in the same committed context, those who are wed before a civil authority and witnesses.) Nor, I might add, do I condone public sexual activity rife among heterosexual college kids, whether on campus, or in bars/clubs. Let us all remember that public misbehavior and sexual misconduct can be a human condition and not merely a sexual orientation problem.

As to costumes, or other similar expressions, I understand those Halloween-like manifestations as means of conveying to people that each individual is different, that we should respect our respective quirks and personal characteristics -- as long as such is legal, not overtly sexually-explicit, or dehumanizing (and, again, I have seen images and actions from some at Pride parades that either make me uncomfortable or have outright displeased or angered me) -- without causing violence, whether physical or emotional or psychological, toward each other. Regardless of the actions or expressions of some with which I disagree or dislike, I view Pride parades in a positive manner, and I hope that others, who have always disliked them or protested at them, will view them differently.



Sometimes I view some people marching in Pride parades like little children -- I smile at their self-expressions like I would at a boy playing Superman or a girl playing Princess. The intent of those at Pride parades is, most likely, far from nefarious; and, ultimately, each of these individuals longs for what we each long for: to love and to be loved.

But there will always be haters. Take, for example, the street preachers yelling at LGBTQ people in Orlando, Florida, yesterday at the memorial for the 49 American citizens gunned down at the Pulse nightclub. While I think that such self-professed Christians are disobeying Christ in the means that they confront their perceived enemies, and I think that they accomplish their goal by objectifying LGBTQ people, I realize that we cannot return the favor. We must not consider angry and hate-filled street preachers as a) representatives of all conservative Christians; and b) objects without a soul who are unloved by Christ. Pray for them.

But pray for us all, too, for we are all in need of Christ daily; we need the Spirit of God daily to overcome our bitterness and anger and disagreements and agendas; and, while we (among LGBTQ-oriented individuals) reject shame for merely existing, our real pride and joy is in Christ (for us who believe). St Paul writes: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord." (1 Cor. 1:31) Jesus is our pride. If we are persecuted, for His name's sake, then we are blessed. (Matt. 5:11) However, if we are persecuted merely for living, for being, then we need to act. That is why we have Pride parades; and, while you do not have to attend any, at least consider how you might contribute toward making someone you know, who is LGBTQ, feel especially loved, by you, by the Church, and by Christ.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.