West Hollywood Pride, 1979.
Meditations selected from my 1994 book, The Word Is Out.
This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to [God], throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.
As Jews celebrate Passover in remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, so we celebrate gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender pride month, week, and day, as a remembrance of our deliverance from spiritual and societal bondage.
A straight minister invited to deliver the sermon at a gay pride worship service approached me for advice. “I’ve always been taught that pride was a sin,” he said, perplexed.
I explained that I believe shame, not pride, is more of an issue for people today. False pride, or hubris, may itself be an expression of deeply felt shame, the need to puff oneself up because of low self-esteem. Current theories link shame to many of our personal and social ills. Then I told him that one cannot apply a concept of the sin of pride to a marginalized people like us who have always been taught that we should be ashamed of ourselves.
Isak Dinesen (nee Karen Blixen) wrote in her book Out of Africa, “Pride is faith in the idea that God had when [God] made us.” Lesbian and gay pride simply expresses “faith in the idea that God had when God made us.”
We celebrate our faith in your idea in making us, Creator God.
We pray others will share our faith and our pride.
Atlanta Pride, 2005.
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” Mark 11:9
What a day of pride! Yet a day of humility, too, for Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was heralded by everyday people, not local officials or dignitaries. But it was a moment of kairos—a spiritual turning point. And it was so powerful that, as Jesus said to the religious fundamentalists objecting to the revelers, “If these were silent, the stones would shout out” (Luke 19:40).
“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!” This is how I praised God for my first encounter with a gay Christian minister, Bill Johnson. This is how I praised God for my first encounter with a lesbian and gay Christian church, Metropolitan Community Churches [founded nine months before the Stonewall uprising]. This is how I praised God for my first Christian boyfriend, Stan Schobert. If I had not cried out with joy, church walls would have screamed!
That’s why the religious organizations get extra applause and shouts in lesbian and gay pride parades, so the pavement beneath them doesn’t bellow!
Hosanna! Blessed are all those who re-present you, God!
Atlanta Pride, 2009.
But Paul shouted in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”
Paul and Silas are beaten and jailed for delivering a young female slave from those who were exploiting her psychic powers. Midnight finds them praying and singing hymns to God, when an earthquake opens the prison doors and unfastens all the prisoners’ chains. The jailer awakes. Knowing the penalty is death for allowing an escape, he intends to take his own life. But Paul shouts, assuring him no one has escaped.
Paul’s generosity of spirit prompts the jailer to ask about the gospel, and he is converted, caring for their wounds and feeding them.
The chair of the committee guiding my preparation for ministry opposed my ordination because I was gay. Years later, on a visit to the church I served in a non-ordained capacity, he asked more about the gospel we proclaimed. His son had come out to him. In our dialogue that followed, I invited him to serve on the board of my ministry.
Our liberation is not complete until we free those who imprison us. Through prayer and singing, God will give us the grace to prove redemptive even to our captors, and proclaim the gospel of the integrity of spirituality and sexuality.
God of Mercy, we pray for the liberation of our captors rather than their harm.
Grant us grace to be gracious.
The above meditations for June 25, 28, and 30 are from my 1994 book The Word is Out: The Bible Reclaimed for Lesbians and Gay Men, re-subtitled for the 1999 edition Daily Reflections on the Bible for Lesbians and Gay Men. Each month of the year-long daily devotional has a theme. The theme of June is Liberation.
Also see last week’s post: A Prayer Quartet for Pride
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