June is recognized as 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 gay/SSA believers.
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 Month 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 taped with: “You matter.” — Jesus. 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 the following:
“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?
I am disappointed – but not surprised – that some of you lend approval of gay pride. As someone with SSA who has lived the gay lifestyle, I understand it…..but God condemns pride, majorly…. and condemns homosexuality. No genuine Christian should voice approval in any way of gay pride, the events, parades, etc that goes on. I have seen the pictures, read of the events…… and it is a month celebrating debauchery and stuff is paraded in the streets that even I find distasteful.
There are a couple of you who might as well just go back to the gay lifestyle….you glorify it, and seem to envy and want what gay guys do and have. I have been disturbed in the past by some of the posts by some of you on here, but this one is the most disturbing. Are you trying to help guys like me, or are you trying to glorify and approve of sin and pride? Because it sure seems like a couple of you fall in the latter
I don’t think pride is being glorified at all in the blog post. I think we have to recognize these pride events are reality, they are occurring whether we want them to or not. That being said, nobody in the blog post encouraged attending and participating in pride, except to hand out bottle waters to bear witness to Christ. I too have lived the gay lifestyle, so I understand your frustration at what often appears to be naivety on the part of those who have never experienced or witnessed the dark side of the gay community. I have, so I totally empathize with you, but it won’t help attacking our fellow brothers who don’t know.
I feel your pain, Mark. I think Marshall has the right perspective on the subject.
Thanks for taking the time to express your concerns, Mark. I think we land on the same side of things theologically. Nobody in this conversation spoke of glorifying sin. But the notion of meeting people where they’re at as Christ did. Our conversation is filled with doubts and questions about attending, hence our convictions and beliefs. But at the end of the day, we also want to love others well. People do experience personal growth and liberation at these events; it isn’t all debauchery. Pivotal journeys go through Pride. Who’s to say God won’t use this stepping stone of openness in people’s faith journeys? I believe He’s bigger than us.
I understand your sentiments, Tom. I guess I would like to know people that can actually tell me that God specifically used Pride celebrations (the outness and openness) to bring deliverance to their lives and bring them closer to Himself.
I am not saying that God cannot work through wrong things to help people. But usually He does this to awaken them to the depths to which they have fallen. The prodigal son was brought to his senses at the pig trough. But he didn’t stay there. He ran on home to the Father.
Wow, I’m with Matt. Balls-y indeed. #proud
I’ve never been to a pride festival. I doubt I ever will, but like much of the sentament here it is totally understandable
DAN. You are so loved and appreciated here, brother. I see so much of this Jesus I’ve come to know in you.
Loved reading your post! Amen!
I’m going to have to read your post again and again because that is sooooo true how we aren’t going to be understood. Story of my life. I’m still struggling trying to explain myself to friends and family because I’ve become stronger in my faith over the years, going from a theological liberal to not so liberal at all anymore. It’s been a real eye-opener too how some people go out of their way to try NOT to understand you. That’s a lesson I’ve been learning as of late with some friends, possibly soon to be former friends.
Ugg. That’s tough. It is true, though. Hang in there, Robbie.
Thanks for your vulnerability and courage. This life we live calls us to trust His ways are better despite it feeling like an all out assault on our joy. You aren’t alone, Robbie!
I myself have never been to a pride event either – like Dean said I would love to be able to walk around one and be invisible and just observe because just like him I’ve heard first hand accounts that tell different versions. I honestly think it depends on the city.
Anyway, I will say that I have had an ever changing relationship with the concept of pride month. It has to come to have it’s own personal meaning for me that is apart from what it may have been originally which was a fight for recognition as a people deserving respect and especially during the AIDS crisis demanding that everyone deserves to be mourned. I remember that it was in 2015 that I was thoroughly decided to really take a hard look at my sexuality and “figure things out” and it just so happened that it was during pride month that marriage equality was passed. And it felt so strange that I dwelled on it so much. It impacted me more than I thought it would and I couldn’t explain it and it really made me stick to my decision to find my answers. And that is kinda what led me to the former GCN, my side B community, and eventually YOB. A year later during pride month I returned to the states after nearly 7 years living in south america and before the month was over Pulse happened and it was the first time that I felt connected somehow to the broader lgbt community. I felt sick, I cried, and no one around me cared. Until that point I had been perfectly happy watching from the inside of my closet, but that made me realize how important it was to me to be able to have my closet open and stick my head out from time to time. Last year I took the month to do a word study on the words pride and humility in the greek and hebrew of the old and new testament. So slowly over time pride month has somehow become a month of reflection for me.
I see it almost in the same way I see Mardi Gras. Here in Louisiana mardi gras is a very big deal and it has a whole season with special foods and specific colors. People use it as an excuse to party and get drunk and that’s all we were ever told about it growing up in an evangelical home. But mardi gras also has a lot to do with culture here. I don’t go to the parades but seeing the colors associated with it make me smile and I appreciate how it can bring people together and I don’t begrudge people that it has meaning to. That’s kinda how I feel about pride – it has history and we can’t deny that, people do things I don’t approve of in celebration of it and we can’t deny that either. I guess it’s a funny kinda rose with more thorns than petals, but we can’t say it’s not a flower. Just like you can’t say a tomatoe isn’t a fruit.
And Dean, my husband actually started watching Queer Eye with me this month and I have been a fan since it started up in march. it’s given him things to think about and an opportunity to ask questions
I’ve been to pride many times. I had walked away from God in my early 20’s, and I was looking for community outside the church. So for me during those times, Pride was about acceptance, community, and sure, going out to bars, and enjoying the parade.
There was always a smaller group of guys who were pushing the limits of what’s acceptable, but the vast majority of folks were normal. They looked normal, acted normal, regular people off the street. All types of groups were at the pride parades, churches, community organizations, companies, activity clubs. Much more than bars and guys being over the top.
After I came back to God I stayed away from Pride for a while. Like some of the other comments, it felt triggering, I wasn’t sure what to do with it, and it made me feel bad. But as God worked on my heart and healed parts of me around my sexuality, how other people felt about Pride became less of an issue.
I started to think of it in two ways:
1) These are my people, who need Jesus. God wants to draw them back. And,
2) I can celebrate Pride in my own way- basking in God’s love for me, his acceptance of me, and the journey of reconciliation he has put me on with being SSA.
When I go to Pride now, I see people, families, I see a people who Jesus wants to meet, and a place where God wants to redeem. And it’s about redemption- my being a whole and authentic self- living in the tension as God currently and actively redeems me from my hurt, and redeems his Church from the hatred and misunderstanding they have had towards the gay community. This tension is a place of healing and restoration, God is making the valley of Dry Bones, spring up to life. When I think of Pride, I see and think of God’s heart, not far off, but near and very active.
So awesome, brother. Thanks for going. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for loving.
This is a very helpful comment. Thank you so much!
Here we go with another triggering post!
If I went at all, it would be with the one purpose to reach out and proclaim the glorious gospel of Christ to them. NOT to countenance sin and NOT to celebrate anything.
Is there anything to celebrate in a pattern of temptation?
Here again, I think we err if we think there are parts of this to redeem. To redeem means to buy back something. What are you buying back? Terms and culture over which you have no control (and never had)?
Dean talks of Pride having been healing to individuals. Healing? In what way? In being out and proud and accepting an identity so fraught with complexity and confusion that it even still necessitates the very existence of this site? Is it scriptural healing that brings one peace with God and the mandates of His revealed will? If so, then why is there even any question in Tom’s mind about the validity of YOB having a presence there? Because, to be honest, if Pride is a place for a Christian to find healing, then, by all means, brethren, we all ought to go and there shouldn’t be any discussion about it.
I think reaching people with the gospel is laudable and is the Great Commission. I also think drawing the line distinctly in the sand is absolutely necessary. If Pride is an opportunity to evangelize, and a brother is able to go under the Holy Spirit to minister, then I have no objections. That is really the only honest reason I could see to go. Otherwise, Paul’s words are applicable:
Abstain from all appearance of evil (1 Thess. 5:22).
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (1 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Valid points, Kirk. I think it’s important to note that healing can come in many different stages. Would I like to see SSA/gay people of all stripes know Jesus? Of course. But would I rather see a teenager confidently embrace his same-sex attractions in a gay identity than commit suicide because of them? Certainly so.
For many, Pride is an outlet toward climbing out of crippling shame. Shame that tragically kills. And perhaps Pride is the first step in a long road of healing. I firmly believe God can (and does) use it to redeem his children.
We’ll probably and sadly remain at loggerheads on this, Tom. But I love you, brother.
The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with empathizing with the Side A community. There’s a difference between empathizing and endorsing. Thing with pride parades, they tend to hype up the sexual side of their lifestyles with the endorsement of same sex sexual relationships. A lot of that leads to the shocking in your face sexual imagery that they present in the parades. At the same time, we can empathize with these people because they have gone through a lot of similar things that we have, if not worse. Many of them are hurting and have been rejected by their churches and families. Many of them have gone through similar things such as us, feeling like the odd one out and feeling different from peers growing up. Its not inappropriate to empathize with this sort of thing and it certainly doesn’t mean that we endorse their sexual behavior.
Thank you, brother. That’s a good way to put it.
Wow – what an excellent and thought-provoking thread! I’ll try to not make this too long…
I grew up in the somewhat rural countryside in the Northeast and had lived in a very sheltered environment. Growing up, I knew that I was different, but did not know what to do about it. I went to a small Christian college in a very small town (it only had one traffic light) and there came up against the worst kind of abuse I pray no one would ever go through. I won’t go into any details except to say I echo Joseph’s comments to his brothers, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Having a sincere desire to serve the Lord, I applied to, and got accepted to work in a Christian service organization in a large city. When I went there, I found out I would be living and working in a very heavily gay neighborhood.
I would have a lot to learn…a lot…
Not only would I need to learn about what I would be doing in my work, but I needed to develop “street smarts” to survive living in the concrete jungle of the big city. And…since I was in the neighborhood I was in…I would be surrounded on a daily basis with it all. The community there was extremely well-organized and provided well…to be honest far better than the Christian community. i was torn to the point of the “dark night of my soul” over it all. I had heard that this issue was black and white only…no shades of “gray” were allowed. But…where to go and who to talk with…?
A big event in the neighborhood was the annual Pride event. Since I lived there, it was unavoidable. What I saw I won’t go into, but I personally felt uncomfortable. The attitude of those in the Christian service organization was such that if I had gone to the event to show Jesus to others…I would have been kicked out. I lived only a “hop, skip and jump” from what I heard was the largest Gay bookstore in the world. It would take several years before I had the courage to go into it, as I heard they had a large section devoted to religion and I wanted to see what they had to offer in that area. They did have some great books. The bookstore was clean, well-lit and had a zero tolerance policy towards bothering others…so I felt safe and comfortable in looking around. A lady in the church I went to had an incredible ministry to those in the gay clubs there…and her story was featured once in a Christian publication. She was amazing and touched countless lives…
In the intervening years, I have read a lot, studied a lot, and wish I knew then what I know now. I deeply, deeply, deeply regret not letting my light shine for Jesus as I should have…and still have a hard time forgiving myself over that. I can try to justify it by saying I was shy…not articulate…not knowing enough…being repressed by other Christians…but I failed terribly in all of this.
Although I can’t undo the past, I can say yes to the present and allow God to let my light shine in some small way to others. Thank God for another chance.
And the Christian service organization…? It no longer exists now…thrown into the dustbin of history. In those years since, several in it have come out…and I just found out the other day that one of our volunteers went on to become an ordained minister…and a gay activist in the city he was living in. His story was featured in the newspaper…and sadly he died at a young age. Sorry, this was long…for whatever it was worth. It brought back many memories…I could say so much more…but the red light is on and I must come to a stop! Thanks again for all your contributions to this!!!!!!
Brother, I wish we could undo the past. There’s so many things I would change. Even with my dear brother who died of AIDS. I could weep to think about it.
But the past is God’s, the present is His, and so is the future. Bless His name, He forgives the past and uses it to teach us, to inform the present, and to give us hope for the future.
Surely the ways of the Lord are perfect, for they are nothing like the ways of man. His thoughts are higher, and they are right. What a loving and merciful God!
“For many, Pride is an outlet toward climbing out of crippling shame. Shame that tragically kills. And perhaps Pride is the first step in a long road of healing. ” Tom, I have never participated in Pride in any way and shame is the main reason. Is it good shame or have I never overcome my own profoundly internalized shame of being an SSA or gay man. For me too, there is also the profound disgust that I have for the public displays of some people when I have seen Pride parades on T.V. or particpants getting on the subway. I feel shame for them. How much of our own reactions are internalized shame? I have Side B friends who give out water at Pride, I don’t think I could even do that.
A celibate man died and went up to the Pearly Gates. St. Peter said, “You’ve lived your whole life celibate. And you’ve been faithful to your vow of celibacy. But sometimes a small misunderstanding can really change your life. So, don’t take this too hard, but when you thought God told you your calling was to always be celibate, what God was really trying to tell you was he wanted you to always celebrate.”