Me at Pride! (I am the second from the left!)
Went to Pride this weekend. Actually, it felt like I lived at Pride this weekend! (I was there from before the gates opened until almost closed, daily.) And being there as a person of faith had its positive aspects and its negative. I will say that I think the positive aspects greatly outweighed the negative.
One of the things that I love about Pride is the attitude of acceptance that is found. Me, a dumpy bear can stand next to some hot guys in underwear and have my picture taken. (Or, to quote from "Hello Dolly," "Have our picture took.") But it was not just the hot guys in underwear, it was the people who were in drag (both male and female) or the ones who just felt the freedom to cross-dress if they wanted to. It was the people feeling safe enough and open enough to say, "I am rare and precious and deserve to be valued just like a gem or work of art." It was just a lot of fun.
It was also people of faith being present with the Atheists. It was being able to have a conversation that says something more than, "God hates you and you are damned." It was a situation where (aspects of) the Church were able to affirm that we come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and predilections, but God still loves us! I wish we could get this more in our congregations; I think this is what Christ would have us do.
I have been careful not to post the above photo on Facebook for fear of some of my more "Churchy" friends being offended. I would like to think that they would be offended by my obvious disregard for the sin of gluttony, but the offense would more likely be to the protruding body parts of my associates. This is sad. It shows that double standards still exist in society. If I were standing among three bikini-clad ladies, some eyebrows may be raised, but not much more. But because we are dealing with the male physique, we need to be offended. Humm....
What I found negative was the lack of presence by some major main-line denominations. For all the talk of the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America being open and accepting, there was no presence. Amid the Metropolitan Community Church presences, there was United Church of Christ, Methodists, CATHOLICS!!, Unitarians, and Non-Denominationals, TEC and ELCA were not there. Considering they have both been making strides toward acceptance (especially TEC with its acceptance of trans people in the role of ordained clergy) it would seem that their presence at Pride would be a no brainer. That no church was present from either denomination was inexcusable.
Also what was missing was a faith presence from the traditionally African-American churches. The number of (forgive me, I will use the term "Black" because it is easier to type!) black folks at Pride was wonderful! But if any of these people were looking for someone who looked like them among the affirming community, they would have had a futile search.
While I found things to be excited about in the faith communities present, I also see that an opportunity to reach out was wasted.
Not to end this on a bummer, I was so happy to see that the screaming Bible-thumpers were not present. I was also happy to see the the "I'm Sorry" folks were there. (If you are not familiar with the "I'm Sorry" folks, they present a counter to the screamers, apologizing for the pain that has been inflicted in the name of Christianity.)
All in all, it was a good thing. I just wish more straight people could see all these "scary" gay people just having some fun. I also wish they could let their defenses down long enough to dance in the sun, appreciate the artistry of a Drag King or Queen, cheer the freedom to allow one's actual self to shine through, and to be outrageous for no other reason than to be outrageous! We really need to do that more often!
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