Pride in the name of love
This is Pride week in Prince George. We raised the rainbow flag on Wednesday to celebrate our Pride in the full diversity and humanity of all people today with a parade and festival, along with many other events mixed in.
It seems normal and it happens every year, yet people still ask: “is it really necessary”; “why isn’t there a straight parade?”; and “how is Pride Christian?”
Let me be clear.
I’m a 40 something, white, middle-class, highly educated, ordained, straight person who identifies as male.
In many ways, I’m the epitome of entitlement and the beneficiary of hundreds of years of corrupt and oppressive social structures and policies.
I wrestle with the ways I’ve benefited from my white-straightmaleness simply because I was born that way.
Pride, in that sense, isn’t about me, or is it?
Let me be clear.
I’m an ally.
A colleague of mine reminded me recently that, “Pride isn’t for me. It isn’t just about my being comfortable in my own skin, with who I am, and how God made me. It’s about the person who is still in the closet. Who lives in fear of family, friends, society, church, school and work. It’s about saying you don’t have to deny who you are.”
If that’s true, then Pride is as much about me as anyone because, as a follower of Jesus, I’m called to resist the structures that in anyway limit, diminish, or seek to eradicate the full diversity and humanity of people created in God’s image.
For me to be a follower of Jesus means I need to love all my neighbours as myself (Mt 22:37-40) without reservations or preconditions.
Jesus doesn’t say love your straight/common heritage/common ancestral/common language speaking/ common faith believing neighbour.
Jesus simply says love your neighbour.
Love them because God created them in the fullness of their humanity, including sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Apostle Paul pushes that further in Galatians 3:23-39 and states that there is nothing that divides us within the gospel’s ecosystem.
If God looked upon creation and said it was all God… then all really does need to mean all.
Not most, not some, not with qualifiers.
Part of the challenge, of course, is that the Christian church has been (and some still are) complicit in the dehumanizing of people and the sin-a-fication of their humanity.
Conversion therapy is still a part of some religious groups.
The belief that you can “pray the gay away” still permeates the consciousness of some groups.
Phrases like “love the sinner, hate the sin” or “it’s ok to be gay, just don’t act on it” still echo in some ‘hallowed’ halls.
All of that is true, yet it isn’t the only voice within the Christian Church.
There are those who affirm the fullness of everyone’s humanity and their right to live into it.
Homophobia has become the placating terminology of the oppressor and on this subject, I agree with Morgan Freeman.
“I hate the word homophobia,” he said. “It’s not a phobia. You’re not scared.”
People are a lot of other things, yet scared isn’t really one of them.
There is nothing in scripture that supports this rhetoric. Seriously.
Each text citation that is commonly used has been subject to significant interpretation and proof texting.
Often taken out of context.
Often ignoring the original text, translation, and meaning.
Jesus never says anything on the subject.
He does say lots of things about what we should do with our money, the treatment of the poor, imprisoned, sick, outcast, widowed, immigrant, neighbour, and orphaned.
I wonder what would happen if Christians paid more attention to what is said, rather than looking for statements that support hate, fear, segregation and humiliation.
Back to my original question, why is Pride important?
Because people need to know they don’t need to live in fear. Laws that allow conversion therapy need to be challenged and struck down.
Events like the anti-LGBTQ2SAI+ events in 2019 in Surrey and other parts of B.C. need to be challenged and labeled for what they are.
Our children and youth need to know that God made them who they are and loves who they are.
They need to know that it does get better and that there are people who will support, nurture, and encourage them without any prejudice.
People need to know that institutions can change and the church can be a place that affirms, uplifts and nurtures the body, mind and soul.
Pride is important because without it, we’re not a rainbow of people, we’re just a monochromatic duplication of our own image.
I hope I see you at the festival or in the parade celebrating the Pride we all have in the rainbow of our common humanity.
Thousands took part in the 20th annual Prince George Pride Parade through downtown Prince George in July 2017.