Today (Friday, July 22, 2016) the 2nd annual Mansfield Gay Pride festival/parade commences at South Park, Mansfield, Ohio, and it will continue through tomorrow (Saturday, July 23, 2016).
This past May, my brilliant, golden-hearted cousin, an Ohio resident and Pride volunteer asked me to compose an essay for this year’s Pride, stating he would like to address the local churches that had members passing out cards in protest at last year’s Pride. He said the essay should speak of the difference between gay pride, and the pride the Bible describes. I agreed to help him, of course, not knowing my essay would be published in this year’s Pride magazine, which my cousin designed (because he’s fucking awesome).
Before I let you get on with the essay, I want to say that I was greatly honored by this request–I am honored to have this opportunity to stand with our LGBTQ human beings.
What is pride? Merriam-Webster defines pride as the quality or state of being proud; also, proud or disdainful behavior or treatment. So what does it mean to be PROUD? It is to feel deep satisfaction as a result of one’s own achievement or character, or those of someone with whom one is closely associated. Proud also means having or showing an excessively high opinion of oneself or one’s importance. For good or for ill, we are all proud of SOMETHING. Parents are proud of their sons and daughters when they perform well in school. Athletes are proud when they accomplish their goals. Americans are proud of our brave service men and women. Christians are proud followers of Christ. All of these seem like examples of GOOD pride, don’t they? Sure, but let us not forget that pride can also be a product of derision, arrogance, and SELFISHNESS. The Bible teaches that selfish pride is a sin. Pride, arguably, is the sin God abhors the most, for it has been called the sin from which all others arise. Why is it then that so many Christians come out to PROTEST Gay Pride celebrations? Let me tell you, WE are not proud because we believe OUR community is SUPERIOR to the straight one. We are proud because we are BRAVE. Every day, in the face of adversity, ridicule–of HATRED and violence, we are BRAVE enough to be true to ourselves and show the world who we are as HUMAN BEINGS created by the same God worshiped by Christians.
Proverbs 16:18-19 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” This passage can be applied to the adverse attitudes and treatment of members of the gay community. Our history is marked in red by the PRIDE of those who claim to love God and follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. Would our SAVIOR, if he were walking among us in the flesh today, condone or even participate in the defamation of gay individuals? And what about the violence? Would Jesus Christ be PROUD that members of his flock have beaten and murdered his gay brothers and sisters? These are not rhetorical questions. Unfortunately, these questions must be asked, because again I say, our history is marked in red by the PRIDE of those who CLAIM to love God and FOLLOW the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Another passage, Philippians 2:3 says, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” How does this apply to the gay community? Anti-gay Christians who display their religious pride do so with the goal to DISPARAGE, or to CONVERT because according to them, we are not worthy of God’s love, or we do not ourselves LOVE God. It is a fact that non-Christian gay individuals exist. It is also a fact that countless Christian members of the LGBT community are not welcome in church. These people want to go attend their church, but the PRIDE of their FAITH says they cannot worship because of their sexual orientation. They love God, but their religion says God does not love them. Think about all of those who hide who they are for fear of losing the RIGHT to worship.
To those, we as a Gay community say, “Be strong. You are loved, and we accept you. We want you to LIVE a fantastic life and be true to yourself.” We have Gay Pride festivals and parades to celebrate our love, strength and camaraderie–to come out and speak out against adversity. We are, after all, HUMAN BEINGS who ought to enjoy the SAME civil liberties as our straight friends and families. We ARE proud of ourselves. Not because we are superior, but because we are BRAVE, and we chose to fight for our rights as HUMAN BEINGS. Yes, Gay Pride is the GOOD kind of pride.