I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.
-2 Corinthians 7:4
For those of us who were raised in a strict Christian environment, we had to learn not to hate ourselves and to accept who we are and our sexuality. Some Christians are opposed to the concept of LGBTQ+ pride. They feel LGBTQ+ people should be ashamed of who we are, and any public celebration of LGBTQ+ sexuality is wrong. Those who reject us are those who are straying from the teachings of Jesus. I still believe in the teachings of Christ and believe that God created me just the way I am. I learned to accept myself and be proud of who I am. I am proud to be both gay and Christian.
Christians who know church history can identify with persecution. During the early years of the Christian church, Christians were put in prison and killed for their faith. The civil authorities in the Roman Empire were persecuting people for being Christian. Both Christianity and the LGBTQ+ community share a history of discrimination and persecution. Unfortunately, discrimination and persecution of LGBTQ+ people continue today, largely led by people claiming to be Christian. Some Christians do not understand how much they have in common with the LGBTQ+ community. Instead of working closely together to ensure their mutual human rights are respected, many Christians actively work to keep LGBTQ+ people from having the same rights other members of society enjoy.
The LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride Month each year in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Riots in Manhattan. The Stonewall Riots were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States. In the United States the last Sunday in June was initially celebrated as “Gay Pride Day,” but the actual day was flexible. In major cities across the nation the “day” soon grew to encompass a month-long series of events. Today, celebrations include pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts, and Pride Month events attract millions of participants around the world. Memorials are held during this month for those members of the community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS. The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that LGBTQ+ individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.
LGBTQ+ pride promotes the self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of LGBTQ+ people. Pride, as opposed to shame and social stigma, is the predominant outlook that bolsters most LGBTQ+ rights movements. Ranging from solemn to carnivalesque, pride events are typically held during the month of June. Some pride events include LGBT pride parades and marches, rallies, commemorations, community days, dance parties, and festivals. Pride may be considered one of the seven deadly sins, but there is nothing wrong with LGBTQ+ people having self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility. In fact, God expects us to have pride, a pride that is justifiable and reasonable, because it is based on what God has done for humanity.
God chose humanity before the world was created. Ephesians 1:4, we are told, “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” God did not wait to see how things would go before choosing humanity. According to Ephesians we were chosen before the world was around, before we had a chance to do anything that would make God favor us. We did not have to act loving, do impressive humanitarian work, wear designer clothes, or make love to the right person to earn God’s love. God’s love for us is not a new, fickle love. His love for all of us, no matter our sexuality, is as old as time. God loved us, just the way we are. We can take pride in the fact that God sought us out and chose us before the world was created. In 2 Corinthians 7:4, we are told that God as “great pride” in us.
Isaiah Chapter 44 says God formed us in the womb. It does not say, “God created heterosexual people in the womb,” but it says that God, “formed you from the womb and will help you.” (Isaiah 44:2) We are not an accident in God’s eyes. We are not defective like some Christians would have us believe. God formed us in the womb and made us who we are. Galatians 1:15 states the Paul was chosen before he was born, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace.”. Just like Paul, we were chosen to be an LGBTQ+ Christian (if that’s how you identify) before we were born. We can have pride, because God chose us and picked us to be on children.
Genesis tells humans, again, no matter their sexuality, were created in God’s image. Anything made in the image of God is valuable. We can have pride because we are a valuable masterpiece. God did not make a mistake when he created us with the varying sexualities that exist in this world. Romans 5:8-9 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” In Greek, the word justify carries the meaning to vindicate, approve, and honor. LGBTQ+ Christians are vindicated, approved, and honored by God, no matter our sexuality, because of Christ’s death on the cross. And nobody, gay or straight, has the right or the authority to put down or condemn people God has vindicated, approved, and honored.
LGBTQ+ Christians have the same reasons to have pride as straight Christians. Gay and straight Christians are equally called before the world was created, are equally formed in the womb by God and are equally redeemed by God. LGBTQ+ Christians can and should have pride in who they are by creation, by birth, and in Christ. To advocate that LGBTQ+ Christians should not have pride is to advocate that LGBTQ+ people feel and express no gratitude to God. When LGBTQ+ Christians are denied LGBTQ+ pride, they are asked to deny their Creator’s role in their creation and birth. It denies Christ’s role in our salvation.
Some LGBTQ+ people find pride to be one time of the year when they do not feel alone, isolated, cut-off, rejected, hated, and despised. Pride helps LGBTQ+ people feel they are not a tiny, powerless minority group. Through pride, many LGBTQ+ people find a sense of belonging, a sense of being worthwhile. Society has long taught LGBTQ+ people to hate themselves. By celebrating pride, the LGBTQ+ community can start the long process of overcoming self-hate. Standing side-by-side with God, LGBTQ+ Christians are accepted, loved, connected, and made powerful by God.
LGBTQ+ Christians can find meaning in pride. God wants LGBTQ+ people to stop hating and fearing themselves, because those who live secret lives of pain are not able to fully celebrate their identity in Christ. Through LGBTQ+ pride, God calls LGBTQ+ Christians to live as though the world waits for them, waits for them to passionately praise God, to love as faithfully as God loves and to celebrate life, as they walk hand-in-hand with Christ into eternity.