Disclaimer: I know that Pride is not about me. This is not a way to appropriate something in a kind of white, straight, cisgender arrogance. It is, instead, written with humility and appreciation.
Yesterday, June 26, I was standing in the bathroom, swiping mascara on my lashes, when my boyfriend walked in, said “Happy Pride, baby!” kissed me, and left. I wished him a happy pride as well, and tied the rainbow ribbon in my hair. It’s too big, but I was wearing my marriage equality shirt from the Human Rights Campaign anyways, because it was Pride, and because it was the anniversary of the SCOTUS ruling legalizing marriage equality.
I love Pride. I understand that as a straight, cisgender woman, it is not about me, but I love Pride. I love that, in its pure form, it stands for courage and love, and celebrating true selves and diverse beauty. Whenever I have gone to a Pride celebration, the energy that radiates is breathtaking.
I love what Pride means for the people I love. I seem to have more non-straight friends than average, and I love that despite the trials they face, there is a time specifically set aside to celebrate.
I have no respect for the degradation that happens when narrow-minded and assholish straight people use Pride and gay bars to get sloppy and gawk at others. This isn’t about that sort of straight-person-at-Pride kind of experience.
Selfishly, I love Pride partly because even as a straight chick, it is one of the most welcoming and free spaces I encounter all year. When I’m there, a surrounded by color and positivity, I am at peace. I’ve been touched by the kindness I’ve experienced there, whether it is a stranger complimenting my hair ribbons or a hug after a good joke, or seeing someone take care of someone else who needs it.
For most of my life, I haven’t felt like I fit in, for one reason or another. I don’t think that is an uncommon feeling, but I never feel that way at Pride. When I was a pastor, the rest of the pastors in my denomination thought I was a lesbian, and because of that, many treated me differently. As a woman who has a diverse range of interests and skills, sometimes, I get crap about not being feminine enough or too feminine. Not that those are the same kind of experiences that LGBTQ people have, but it certainly has given me more than enough empathy to make a difference.
I love going to Pride to celebrate my friends. To be grateful to the community that has welcomed, accepted, and loved me, even though I am an outsider. I love being able to be an ally for great and beautiful people.
Pride is not about me. I’ve seen some articles floating around the internet lately that are pretty blunt about saying that Pride is not for straight people. I don’t disagree. But I do think that Pride can be, and is, a time for everyone to celebrate the far reaches of love and the advances made in equality and justice, and recognize that the work is not yet done. In reading that, it kind of sounds like a bad version of “all lives matter,” but that’s not what I mean. I mean that as a woman lucky enough to be included by a community, I am happy to celebrate as an ally and a friend.
I couldn’t make it to the Pride parade this year because we were leaving for vacation, but my heart was there. Every time I looked down at my shirt or saw the hair ribbon in my reflection, I was reminded of what should be celebrated. I can’t wait until next year, when I hope to be there again.
This week, the pastor of the church I’ve been attending preached about how we, as the church in 2014, need to be conscious about not limiting God’s work to the stories in scripture. We need to be about God’s business now. We need to be concerned with the world we are in, paying attention to how God can use us to care for people outside our walls. It wasn’t exactly something that felt earth shattering. It shouldn’t be earth shattering.
It’s a challenge to be about God’s work this week. Not that it isn’t a challenge every week, but… this week, I’m grasping at very thin ropes to be civil about the outrage I feel.
I cannot think about the Ferguson decision, the Garner decision, and others like it without being utterly beside myself with outrage. If you think race isn’t a factor in law enforcement, you’re wrong. If you think that racism isn’t heavily institutionalized in the US, you’re entirely and completely wrong.
Some of my childhood and college years were spent in Michigan, and I have a lot of friends still there. Friends who identify across the spectrum of sexual orientation, and so when I hear that the state house passed a law exempting emergency responders from having to help LGBTQ people, it’s not just that it’s a totally BS, asinine bill to begin with, but now, there is the potential (if it makes it into law) that my friends could die because an emergency responder doesn’t approve of their sexual orientations. How am I not supposed to be outraged at that?!?
This week, I’m nearly cross-eyed with my inability to talk about these things as a civil member of society, because I just cannot believe that this week, we have to question whether or not it’s wrong for a cop to kill someone who isn’t trying to kill them. Or that we should have to debate whether professional helpers have to help people (if you’re fuzzy on this one, revisit the parable about the Good Samaritan).
My education has gotten in the way this week. Having a degree in sociological meta-analysis means I have done a boatload of research on a lot of things, but I particularly looked at racial/ethnic issues and gender studies (which includes issues of sexuality). It means that at least in an academic sense, I know what I’m talking about. I see the issues differently than most people. Then, add in my religious education and I am dumbfounded that people – Christians! – cannot recognize God’s image in someone who doesn’t look like them, that they do not share my outrage.
It is so tempting to just not talk about it, to not get into it with people. To be plenty overwhelmed with my own problems and say that I’ll deal with these issues another day. But I have to deal with them today, because that is the business of God today. I am supposed to be outraged about the injustice that is being done, because injustice is incompatible with God’s business.
It was pointed out to me in a blog earlier today that Christ came not at a time when everything was perfect, but when the world was desolate, desperate, and a total train wreck. Kind of like now. Christ showed up and was all about the business of God in a world that was one ugly mess. As Pastor Ivan reminds us every week, God is still showing up in the midst of these circumstances, and I have a choice: to be about the business of God or to skip it.
I think it’s better to take the challenge and pray for wisdom and tact.