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The month of June is hailed as LGBTQIA+ Pride Month. Starting with the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969, Pride Month both commemorates and celebrates LGBTQIA+ activism and culture through the years. Initially, “Gay Pride Day” occurred on the last Sunday of the month in the USA, but soon expanded to encompass month-long activities and events. Despite the condemnation and hate this community often received, June confirms that homophobia is un-American and unholy in every way.
Throughout the month of June, nationwide, there have traditionally been parades, protests, drag performances, live theater, memorials, and celebrations of life for members of the community who lost their lives to HIV/AIDS. It is part political activism, part celebration of all the LGBTQIA+ community has achieved over the years.
This country was built on the fundamentals of freedom. Why does this liberty only apply to a select few? If it does not cause harm to others, people should be allowed to express their truth without fear of being killed. Being despised and rejected is always a possibility whenever people choose to color outside the lines, but fear for their lives should not be a concern. This type of homophobia is un-American and unholy in every way.
Hate crimes against this community often occur because the perpetrators are homophobic or transphobic. Love is too beautiful to be hidden in a closet. As more people drop their guards and learn to accept others, hate will simultaneously increase. Despite the many advances within the LGBTQIA+ community, discriminatory attitudes are still very common. According to Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center:
LGBTQIA+ people are more than twice as likely to be the target of a violent hate crime than Jews or black people. LGBT people have been vilified for as long as any of us can remember, and vilified in a particularly nasty way. They’re described as perverts, as people who seduce children, as people who engage in horrible, unnatural practices. There are all kinds of hatred in this country, but it’s rare to have a group described in such incredibly demeaning terms.
Gun violence is undoubtedly a problem in the United States. However, the bigger problem is intolerance. If people were more accepting of others, not like them, there would be more love, harmony, and peace in the world. Much of the tension witnessed in society is saturated by conflicting ideologies and people’s unwillingness to accept another’s truth as it relates to lifestyle, culture, race, and religion. The reality is, all forms of discrimination come from a place of fear. Intolerance is a byproduct of fearing a loss of power, which creates an overwhelming need to control others with what one believes to be true.
The rainbow flag, created by artist Gilbert Baker in 1978, is used as a symbol of LGBTQIA+ pride. Each color on the flag has its own meaning. In the widely known six-color flag, red is symbolic of life, orange is healing, yellow is sunshine, green is nature, blue represents harmony and purple is spirit. Hot pink was included in the eight-color flag to represent sex, and turquoise to represent magic and art. There have been many variations on the flag. In 2021, the flag was altered in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests, including black to represent diversity, brown to represent inclusivity, and light blue and pink, the colors of the trans pride flag.
Acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community is seemingly most difficult for the religious sect. Perhaps, because one-dimensional descriptions lead to one-dimensional responses. This results in unnuanced ministry, one-dimensional outreach, underdeveloped relationships, and inadequate theological and gospel application. Often, it is the result of a lack of conversation, interaction, and understanding of real people within real communities.
However, God is never one-dimensional in his relationships with sinful people because He is multi-faceted. To act one-dimensionally would undermine His character and divine nature. God also does not interact one-dimensionally with, nor view, humanity through singular lenses, because the world and its inhabitants were created to be multi-faceted. We give up a piece of our full humanity when we forgo compassion and treat people as objects worthy of scorn or violence. Pride Month is an opportunity to end oppressive practices and ideology, while also becoming more fully human ourselves.
This Pride Month, the religious community could start by repenting from the sin of pride, homophobia, and the culture-war landscape it has produced in God’s Church and the world, making the life of LGBTQIA+ people a living hell. From disowning and rejecting family members, friends, and congregants when they come out, Christians have historically punished and ostracized the very people whom God told us to love unconditionally.
Many Christians have contributed to the political, relational, and spiritual dehumanizing of this community. Through this normalization, the church has manufactured a cross that it forces people to bear. The cross of Jesus is one of love, self-sacrifice, and radical inclusion. Instead, the religious community has fortified a cross that forces them to carry the weight of exclusion, bullying, rejection, depression, isolation, suicidal inclination, repression, and judgment. Simply stated, the church is guilty of, and complicit in, creating a culture of death, homelessness, and isolation that in no way reflects the character of God.
Despite individual beliefs and preferences, homophobia is un-American and unholy in every way. It is acceptable to stand by one’s personal beliefs and ethics, but to target others for theirs is not. It is never okay to exchange love for hate. Instead of allowing hate to be the driving force, choose to become fascinated with the unique configuration of others, including the life experiences that shape their unique perspective. Anyone, religious or otherwise, who allows homophobia to trump love should reconsider. Pride Month is the perfect time to remind some, and inform others, that this type of behavior is un-American and unholy.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
People: Everything You Need to Know About Pride Month
TGC: A Christian’s Posture Towards Pride Month
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