I decided to march in this year’s Chicago Pride Parade with some members of my religious community and the Episcopal Diocese, along with other Christian churches and the Coalition of Welcoming Churches. I have marched in several past pride parades when I was a member of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, but never with churches. I must admit I was hesitant to march, not because it was with churches but because I discovered I was angry with the LGBTQ community at large. Being a gay man myself, it may seem odd that I should say that, but I as I continue to become more aware of the extent of racism, sexism, classism and gender bias surrounding us today I realize that the LGBTQ community is not excused from generating this kind of exclusion. We have fought for dignity and respect and yet we often are quick to judge, divide, and ostracize others, especially within the community itself. It hurt me to think that my own people, who purport to radiate inclusion, ignore their own culpability in furthering brokenness and division. Then it struck me that this is precisely a reason to march.
It’s easy to become cynical about pride parades, saying “they’re too commercial” or “most of the people watching don’t even care, they just come to get drunk” or “the business’, politicians, and churches are just pandering,” but none of that really matters.
We march because inequality still exists. We march because LGBTQ people in this country are still being marginalized and abused even 50 years after the Stonewall Uprising. We march because in the midst of pain and suffering we can still celebrate our individuality and our collective interdependence. We march because pride parades still give hope and joy to those seeking family and community. We march to remind anyone feeling alone that they are NOT alone. We march because pride parades are not just for LGBTQ people any more than salvation is just for Christians.
Pride parades are one facet of a call to stand up for justice and inclusion, for equality and dignity. The Me Too movement, the continuing feminist movement, the Black Lives Matter movement and so on, also fight for inclusion, dignity, equality and respect… not because they are rights, but because unity, dignity, and love are at the core of all creation, all physical matter. “All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being.” (John 1:3 NRSV) So, if the Christ is to be found in all things then we must seek the Christ in all things, working towards compassionate inclusion and care for all peoples and the very world we live on.
Every great revolution must be able to turn its lens inward and examine its own reactions and in-actions if it has any chance of truly transforming others. I am not exempt from causing pain in this world, but I pray that as I grow and learn to see where I am contributing to exclusion and suffering, “with God’s help” I will sow seeds of healing and transformation, even within myself. THIS is why I am marching.
I pray we may all move closer towards greater unity and love, within ourselves and with one another, and that you have a happy and safe pride weekend.