It's Pride Month - woot! It's that month when we celebrate our LGBTQ+ loved ones, friends, neighbors, gay rights leaders, and ourselves! It's the month when we remember that the struggles for full legal protection and acceptance for those of us who are LGBTQ is still ongoing. It's the month when we honor the courage of those of us who are living loud as our true and awesome selves, even though that has been risky and dangerous. It's the month that we remember that way too much of Christianity still preaches judgment and condemnation of our LGBTQ siblings. It's the month when we as a church re-affirm our commitment to being "Open and Affirming": welcoming, including, loving, affirming and celebrating ALL people.
I clearly remember the first Pride Parade I ever attended. I t was 1994, in Santa Cruz, California. I was working at a downtown cafe when the parade came by that Saturday afternoon, and all of us rushed out to the sidewalk. It was the most fabulous, joyous, colorful spectacle of beautiful, diverse humanity that I had ever seen. At one point I noticed a very straight-laced looking middle-aged man walking in the parade. He was wearing khakis and a button-down shirt, had sensible shoes and neatly trimmed hair. "What is HE doing in this parade?!", I wondered. And then I saw the sign he carried, letters neatly printed on a sheet of cardboard: I LOVE MY GAY SON. I dissolved into sobs. (I'm even crying as I write this, nearly 30 years later.) I have seen many such signs since that day, but that unassuming dad in khakis, walking in that parade surrounded by drag queens and sparkly dancers and colorful floats... he breaks me every time.
At West Parish, we all have people who will carry a sign for us: I LOVE YOU! No matter what, I LOVE YOU!