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.
That being said, I’m glad to introduce our first entry into this series. The perspective below is shared by my friend Christy, a board member and fellow-trailblazer in our work. She is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary where she completed her Masters of Divinity in 2012. She has ministered in various national and international contexts and has a heart for LGBTQ youth and young adult discipleship. I have found Christy to be a loyal friend, someone who has delivered God’s grace to me when I’ve really needed it, a person that loves Jesus deeply and is stubbornly devoted to him, with as honest of a soul as you’ll ever find. She is one of the strongest, most faithful and loving people I know – and her dry, blunt humor always leaves me in stitches. If you’d like to follow more of Christy’s story and work, check out her blog about faith and sexual orientation!
By CHRISTY WADE:
As a Christian teen growing up in a rural community in the South in the 1990s, I spent my childhood cloaked in shame. I knew at a young age that I didn’t see things the way my peers did, and this was not okay. So, I stayed silent and hated myself. This self-hatred continued throughout my life into my late 20s and permeated every corner of my life. I desperately wanted to change my sexual orientation to become ‘normal.’ Silence and shame characterized my life, and I did not allow others to get too close to me.
At the age of 32, I finally realized that I didn’t have to be ashamed of myself for a key part of my identity. I publicly ‘came out’ via a blog post. Although my close friends and family knew of my sexual orientation, I had never shared who I was to the world. My ‘coming out’ resulted in severed relationships and the loss of church job opportunities, but I felt truly free for the first time in my life. Since that time, I have overcome much of the shame of being different than most people and have finally embraced who God has created me to be.
Being a history buff, I researched the reason for Gay Pride before attending a Pride festival for the first time. I learned that Gay Pride parades and festivals commemorate the Stonewall riots that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. These riots sparked the modern Gay Rights movement. It was a time when members of the LGBTQ community refused to be beaten or shamed anymore. I am thankful for those people, my people, who stood up that night! I feel that I owe a debt of gratitude to them for the rights that I now enjoy.
So, Gay Pride is important to me because it represents a moment in time that forever changed the history of the LGBT community. Even if there is still much bias and hate directed towards us, we no longer have to hide in the closet or be ashamed of who we are. In fact, we can now take ‘pride’ in the unique qualities and giftedness we possess as LGBTQ people.
The importance of Gay Pride can be summed up by the following quote by Mary Malia.
“This celebration of life, love and liberty isn’t just about parades and partying. It’s about the gay community being visible and belonging to a community, a town, a city, a nation and the world…it’s about spreading hope that not only are things getting better but things will continue to improve because we won’t forget the battles.”
What do you think? Is Gay Pride important to you? Let’s chat!