About a year ago I was dating a guy we were holding hands in public. Nothing out of the ordinary if you’re used to that sort of thing. It wasn’t overly PDA because that stuff kind of grosses me out a bit. Just two gay dudes, holding hands, going to eat some pizza. As we were crossing the street, just as we made it to the far side of the crosswalk, a car whizzes by us and a guy leans out the window screams,
It took me a second to register what happened, and neither of us stopped walking. However, my jaw was practically dragging along the sidewalk. “Did that really just happen? Did we get called—”
“Yep,” my date responded.
…I was a touch shell-shocked, but regardless, we carried on, talking about a few other things, but we quickly jumped back to the moment that just occurred. We were just harassed, verbally abused, victimized, whatever verb you’d care to use there, by a complete stranger who didn’t know us. “Faggots!” I wasn’t a stranger to the word. I was called a fag growing up by mean kids at school, but in my adult life, that slur hadn’t been thrown at me. And it was the strangest thing.
That was the first time in my life I realized what life might be like as an openly gay person. The reality set in that not all spaces are safe. People can still be hateful and violent, and this was way before the Pulse shooting happened, so I was still completely naive.
My date recounted a few other times when he endured someone saying something terrible to him. For him, this kind of behavior was old hat, something that he knew was bound to happen every now and again.
Why, though? Why should we just expected this to happen? Better question- how? How did people think that this kind of behavior was okay? I mean, who the hell yells at someone from their car anyways? There we were, in one of the more liberal cities in America, and in broad daylight, someone called me a faggot. I kept replaying the moment in my mind over and over again. I felt angry and a little hurt…
But from somewhere in the core of my spirit, something different was shifting. It was warm and exhilarating and joyful.
It was pride.
Weird, right? Like, super weird. A few years before that, even a few months before that, if someone called me a fag, I would have been reduced to tears. But not this time. This time, I was feeling proud of myself. For the first time ever, I was myself completely.
As I’ve been working through my own coming out process, a friend of mine told me that one cannot truly hate that which he does not know completely, and one cannot love that which is only half-true. I had this nasty habit of rejecting people who got too close to, who I couldn’t bear to come out to, to speak the truth to. I was always keeping my relationship at an arm’s length.
I’d never given the world an opportunity to truly know me, therefore no one could truly love me. Conversely, no one would ever know me enough to hate me for all of me.
Until that moment.
And I wasn’t super waving a pride flag. I wasn’t at a protest or parade. I was going to lunch, holding a guy’s hand. It wasn’t anything brave or revolutionary. I was just being my honest self. And then I was reminded once again that sometimes being yourself is an act of bravery.Sometimes just being yourself is an act of bravery. Click To Tweet
I relished that moment. And quickly after that moment, I had another emotion rise in my chest.
It was pity.
I genuinely felt sad for the guy who drove by and yelled at us. I felt sorry that he felt so trapped in insecurity and self-doubt that he felt the need to lash out at another human. What he must be going through that love did not reign in him… I don’t know.
While there is a huge part of me that is filled with anger and pain because of the marginalization that the queer community has faced, there’s a huge part of me that just pities those who don’t know how free they are to love. I feel sad that they are unable to just free themselves to love more, care more, embrace more of God’s creation. Because really, if that guy who drove by sat down with me, shared a drink with me, we’d find that we’re both nothing special. We’re both humans with hope, dreams, emotions, families, ambitions, fears, insecurities, and we’re all asking the same question:
If you I let you know all who I am, will you still love me?
Pride to me is an expression of my full self. It is a journey into vulnerability, to hold none of myself back from the world. It is being proud of the person God created me to be because for so long I hated who I was.
It took a long time to become comfortable in my own skin, to accept the person God created me to be. I’m learning that the road to self-acceptance is hard, and the road to being accepted by society as a whole might be even harder. But it’s worth it. I’d rather have the world burn me at the stake for being who I am than drown in the waters of self-hatred.
I’m proud to be called a gay son of God, a gay Christian because that’s the person God created me to be. That’s who God loves, and to not love myself, to not accept who I am, to not celebrate the person God celebrates, I believe, is an affront to my Creator.
Who am I to call unclean what God has called clean? Who am I to not love, celebrate, protect, uplift that which God loves, celebrates, protects, and uplifts? That is what pride is! Pride is about looking at the LGBTQ+ community, every sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and proclaiming
“God is proud of us.”
This month, we celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and the various expressions of the Divine in each person. We remember the loss we’ve suffered, we remember that there is still reason to hope, and we continue onward with our heads held high, knowing that God is with us.This is when I figured out what #PRIDE meant. Click To Tweet
BTW: if you’re looking for a cute pride shirt to wear, may I suggest something from my new t-shirt line, Queerly Beloved? Check out that link there and check out some of the designs below…
Get these designs from my MERCH shop and celebrate YOU this pride season.