In the midst of Pride month, I’ve been asked multiple times: What does Pride even mean? What is it exactly that we are celebrating? Does it mean that we are boasting or flaunting our LGBTQ identity? No, that’s not what it means. Pride, especially for those of us who identify as LGBTQ people of faith, isn’t about being boastful (as in “pride goes before a fall”) but rather a confidence that who we are is beautiful and radiant, and that we are fully loved and embraced by God exactly as we are. It’s a chance to come together with others like us in a place where we feel safe to be ourselves; a place where we can be seen without having to hide. As others have said, “Pride was not born out of a need to celebrate being gay, but (out of) our right to exist without persecution.”
So if you identify as part of the LGBTQ community, celebrate your God-given identity this month with people who affirm ALL of who you are. Or use this as an opportunity to discuss with family or friends who may not be fully affirming what this month means to you, and why it is important for LGBTQ people to have this recognition every year.
If you are not LGBTQ, but a parent, pastor, friend, or ally of the LGBTQ community, here are a few ways that you can support those loved ones around you during Pride month:
- Call or send a card to an LGBTQ person this month. Acknowledging the LGBTQ people in your life and reminding them that you affirm them and stand with them can be very comforting, especially during a time in our country where people are advocating for “straight pride” and pastors are declaring that all LGBTQ people should be executed. It’s heinous, dehumanizing, and often crippling for LGBTQ people to constantly be demeaned and have to fight for their right to exist in the world. Send them a little love. It could go a very long way.
- Listen to the story of an LGBTQ person and what it has been like to walk in their shoes. If you don’t understand Pride or if you’ve never really gotten to know an LGBTQ person before (or even if you have!), find ways to listen to the stories of LGBTQ people. If there aren’t any in your sphere of influence, then you need to broaden your sphere. You can also hear many stories of LGBTQ people through podcasts like Queerology, and through projects like Q Christian Fellowship’s new Unchanged movement.
- Tell your story of how you became affirming to people you encounter throughout the month. If you’re affirming of LGBTQ people, chances are, you didn’t get there by accident. Most likely you’ve walked a road of your own that has led you to this stance, whether that’s because a close family member or friend came out to you, or whether you went through a faith deconstruction of your own, or whether you simply took a stand because you didn’t like the way you saw LGBTQ people being treated. Share that story with people who may not be quite where you are yet, and tell them why that has been transformative for you.
- Attend a Pride parade. If you’ve never been to a Pride event, step outside your comfort zone a little and go to one this year. You may see some rather “colorful” things, but remember that no one person represents all LGBTQ people. Try and see the heart of the reason behind why people are there: they need a safe place to be and bring all of who they are without having to hide. Sometimes that may mean going to more extreme forms of self expression because they so rarely have the chance to freely express themselves. Sometimes that may mean simply hanging out with like-minded people and having a good time. Sometimes that might mean falling apart in the arms of someone who offers them a Free Mom or Free Dad Hug. Whatever it is, open your eyes and look for the meaning behind the event and see what you can learn from those around you.
- Donate to an LGBTQ faith leader or organization that is doing work to bring about change, acceptance, and justice for LGBTQ people. There are numerous people doing incredible work to create a safer and more loving place for LGBTQ people to live and thrive. There are also a number of incredible people doing great work specifically with LGBTQ people of faith. A one-time (or monthly) donation to one (or several) of these organizations will help us collectively continue to move the needle forward so that less LGBTQ people face rejection and harm, and more find a place of true love and belonging. If you’re not sure where a good place is to put your money, a few organizations or people that I wholeheartedly support are: Free Mom Hugs, the Queerology podcast, and Q Christian Fellowship. You can also support me and help continue the work I do with LGBTQ people of faith by donating HERE.
Whatever ways you decide to support LGBTQ people during Pride month this year, my hope is that you will see more facets of God in the people that you meet than you ever dreamed possible, and that in return for your love and generosity, you will be richly rewarded with beautiful stories and examples of Divine love.
Happy Pride Everyone! Be bold, live unashamed,