June is recognized as LGBT+ Pride Month. It’s a divisive topic in church culture! Should Christians celebrate Pride Month? Should we in this YOB community recognize Pride Month or even attend a Pride parade? Our core authors gathered to talk about Pride Month — our response to it as Christians and particularly as believers with same-sex attraction (SSA).
TOM: So. It’s Pride Month, y’all. Like…let’s talk about it, I guess?
DEAN: I love rainbows. And Queer Eye. And unicorns. And deflecting sensitive topics with bad humor.
TOM: It’s an interesting position for us to be in as men identifying as SSA or gay but also as Jesus-followers with a traditional sexual ethic. We’re dipping our toes in a lot of different waters and communities.
With regard to Pride Month, I certainly want to respect those partaking and celebrating and emphatically affirm their humanity, especially as someone with a shared sexuality experience. But I also want to stand for what I believe God has called me to with my sexuality.
EUGENE: I guess it is a double-edged sword. On one hand, we can really relate to a lot of what LGBT+ people have gone through, and a lot of them have suffered even worse than us. So, like you said, I get the celebration and affirmation of their humanity. On the other hand, they are celebrating and glorifying things that we have decided to abstain from as apart of our beliefs.
DEAN: I’m torn. I have firsthand accounts about Pride that it’s a sex romp through America. But I also have firsthand accounts that it is a meaningful event that brings healing into people’s lives. At this point, I don’t know that either is completely right or completely wrong — I think it depends on the event you attended, where you went, and everything else.
What I do know is that I’ve at least felt a pull to observe. I wish I could watch from the sidelines, invisible to all others. I want to see Pride for myself — the good parts, the bad parts, the mediocre parts, and everything in between.
I want to talk to the people at Pride and hear their stories. What brought them to Pride? What does it mean to them? How has it impacted their lives?
MARSHALL: Of course, like gay Pride participants I do feel an attraction to men and have been mistreated because of it. So, I understand. However, the huge difference for me is that I do not let that attraction define me; they do. I can agree to fight the kind of blatant cruelty of bullying LGBT+ people that was common in the past, but I can’t support the sexual stuff at Pride events.
TOM: Have any of y’all been to a Pride Month event? I know Matt has. I’m curious.
DEAN: I’ve never been to a Pride parade in person. Pictures and firsthand accounts are all that I know. People I greatly respect have attended; others I greatly respect have not attended. Again, I’m torn.
JACOB: I’ve never been to a Pride event myself, and honestly I’ve never had a desire to attend one. Some of it is probably because of the fear of seeing someone I know there and feeling like merely my presence somehow damages my Christian witness.
It’s truly unfortunate that this is the immediate assumption, but my guess is that the first thing someone would think if they saw me at Pride would be, “Oh, so you think it’s perfectly okay for men to have sex with men?”
I guess I’m struggling to think of any reason why my being at a Pride Month event would be beneficial to myself or anyone in attendance.
DEAN: Pushed into a corner, I would not say that Pride shouldn’t exist. But please don’t push me into a corner. No one puts baby in a corner. *winks*
I think there are benefits to bringing this area of our culture into the light. And the history behind Pride Month’s origins is something more people should know about.
Pride stems from the reaction to the Stonewall Inn raid back in June 1969; this is why Pride Month is in June. The years following this raid were filled with major steps for the LGBT+ community — marches for affirmation of their humanity. They were fighting for the chance to be seen as people, something that the culture had not done for decades.
I just don’t know that this is something for believers worth fighting over. Let Pride happen. There are more important issues at hand — like preaching the Gospel to our communities around the world.
I think that’s going to have a much greater impact than frowning every June because affirming individuals celebrate their theology.
RYAN: I feel ambivalent about rainbows and glitter, but I definitely don’t like crowds. So, I think that’s the limiting factor for me. Like, even if my favorite band is playing a show in my town, it’s still a tough sell.
I’m with Dean, though — I wouldn’t dismiss Pride Month out of hand. And there’s history there.
Who was it that said Pride is a celebration of having survived? I can certainly relate to that.
EUGENE: One thing my local Side B group likes to do during the local Pride celebrations is hand out water bottles with “You matter.” — Jesus taped onto the sides. It’s a gesture of grace and goodwill not to shove Side B propaganda into their faces and start a dialogue.
I’ve personally never been brave enough to join my Side B group and help them out at these Pride Month events. They say they often have good and civil conversations with many folks there but also have to put up with some abuse.
DEAN: I’ve heard about your group doing that, Eugene. I’ve thought about traveling all the way to your city to help out. Haven’t yet, but I really want to.
RYAN: That’s awesome, Eugene! I love that. Even if you’re not a huge fan of what Pride stands for, there are still a lot of positive ways to engage. That’s a good example.
TOM: Yeah I love that, Eugene. Now I’m wondering. Should Your Other Brothers ever participate in a Pride Month event? Would that be awkward? Uncomfortable? Self-serving? Incredible?
On the one hand, the simple act of showing up and showing love is such a Jesus-centric motion; on the other, I wonder if people would “get” why we’re there. Are we “lying to ourselves” as men of faith with same-sex attractions? Are we there with some sort of sinister agenda? Would we just look like all the other judgmental Christians in LGBT+ people’s lives?
I certainly wouldn’t want to come across as anything but genuine. This day and this month is for them, not me or us. I worry it’d be a lose-lose battle.
Oh. Not to mention the Church at large wouldn’t understand why we’re there at all.
MARSHALL: No, I don’t think Your Other Brothers should participate in a Pride Month event. I think doing so would definitely send a “gay sex is okay” message. There are far more effective ways of having a dialogue with our LGBT+ friends.
I grew up with a well-known gay activist, and I can talk with him individually, no problem. In the emotionally charged atmosphere of a Pride event, it is almost impossible to build trust and talk through the nuances of these issues in a civil way.
TOM: That’s a good point, Marshall. Speaking for myself, I’d much rather have a deep conversation in a coffee shop than on a crowded street.
JACOB: One of my biggest issues with Pride events or Pride Month in general is the very commonly used phrase, Love is love. Interestingly enough, my problem isn’t with the phrase itself but rather with many Christians’ angry response to it.
More often than not, I simply hear someone yell back, “No it’s not!!!”
Let me put it another way: I believe that we as believers should be the most radically pro-same-sex love.
But I bet if that phrase were used in most churches today, it would cause unbelievable controversy.
The problem is we’ve so blindly accepted the culture’s sexualization of love that we can’t even conceive of telling a gay man wearing a Love is love shirt:
“You know what? God absolutely wants you to love men, and I believe He’s revealed through His Word the best possible way to do that. I want to introduce you to a man who loved men better than any other person this world has ever known. His name is Jesus, and he experienced a love so passionate and fierce that it would lead him to give up his own life for men like you and me.”
Love IS love, but we need to preach in our own churches that love is not sex and love is not marriage. Until we do that, we can’t even begin to have a meaningful conversation with Pride attendees or understand why Pride Month matters to them.
Have you ever attended a Pride Month event? Do you find it difficult to partake in or even acknowledge Pride Month as a person of faith with same-sex attraction?