Pride: why we still need you to show up

This is Pride Month! Even President Obama says so! 

We in the Episcopal Diocese of California have long been allies to the LGBTQ community and our national church has come a long way in providing equality for all persons. So why is it still important that we show up?

Because not everyone has made it. And as the saying goes, we are not free until we are all free.

In my pastoral care work in the community, most of the folks I meet have a story to tell about rejection by faith communities and some have stories about outright attack by people who should care for them. And all in the name of the church, the Bible, and God. Queer youth are being bullied in San Francisco public schools. Queer bashing happens on San Francisco streets. 

In my conversations with Episcopalians who identify as LGBTQ (both lay and ordained), I have heard concerns such as “as a lesbian, I don’t always feel welcome”; “I am in transition and I often feel uncomfortable in the pews”; “I have been looking for work in a parish, but I think I am having a hard time because I am out”; “I am a queer youth. I am having a hard time in my youth group.”

Whether we think we have “made it” or not, it is clear that there is still much work to be done. We need to be “visible” supporters. We have to keep showing up and be easily identifiable as Episcopalians and as Christians. We have to keep repeating “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”. And what that may mean for our denomination is not as nearly as important as what it means for the people on the streets. For them it means that people who identify as people of God think that they are worthy. God thinks they are worthy. This is obviously no small thing.

In our parishes, we need to keep the conversation going about all members who are marginalized by society. If we don’t talk about it and keep our awareness ever fresh, then these people become invisible again, celebrated only when they become like us. 

It is very uncomfortable to be with people who have been hurt and to listen to their hurt and not be defensive and feel threatened. And it is a necessary skill to learn if we are going to be healers in the world. Jesus was about being with hurt people. We are called to do the same. Not to tell the story of how wonderful our congregations are, but to share how we have struggled to have a change of heart. And to share the Good News of God’s love and the worthiness of everyone for that love.

That’s why we still need to show up. Again and again. For information on participating in the Pride Celebrations contact: Diana Wheeler at dianarwheeler@gmail.com.