The past few months I have been very moved by e-mails from readers of this column. And I have been greatly filled by working with its contributors of various faiths and beliefs. This column was important to me to try. Why? Because I am proud of my sexuality and proud of my faith. Yet, often, in the past, the two had seemed incompatible. Mainstream society rarely portrays GLBT people as people of strong faith and conviction. Quite the opposite. It would be too threatening if we did demand to be seen that way. Look at the conflict and division happening in churches and Christian denominations across the U.S. But we are approaching a period of five weeks, where focus shifts to our GLBT community and our power as a community for purchasing loyalty and potential votes.
June is Gay Pride. A time around the nation when the GLBT community comes together and celebrates our 'pride.' These celebrations are starting to happen in small towns like Rhea County, Tenn., the county of the famous Stokes trial of Creationism versus Evolution. In May they had their first Gay Pride parade with 500 people in attendance. And also 'gay pride' is spreading around the globe to China where only in Hong Kong is homosexuality even legal. But isn't pride a bad thing?
The Bible says that 'Pride goeth before a fall' ( Proverbs 16:18 ) and yet, were we really taught that as children? As children we sang along to 'Proud to be you and me' and it was a lesson in confidence, not arrogance. And as Americans, Glen Campbell sings his anthem 'Proud to be an American' and as a nation we are filled with a spirit of our nationalism. It is no wonder that as we grow confident as a community, we reach a level of 'pride.' And our pride is pervasive. Just look at how our parade in Chicago has grown to font-page news and to numbers over 300,000.
Many of us are proud, and rightly so. Proud of who we have become. Proud of who we love. Proud of our families. Proud of our sexuality. Proud of our faiths. But what about our brothers and sisters who struggle and are not proud? Those GLBT people for whom self-loathing is overwhelming and staying closeted is what feels safe. My heart aches for these people.
Perhaps we should look at this month of Gay Pride as a time to lift up those who are not proud. We need our community healed and whole. In this month of Pride, ask yourself how you can lift up and help someone with less resources and confidence than you. Otherwise, the schism between the proud and the closeted widens and we are headed for a fall. Our community has the potential to collapse in on itself. We should leave no one behind.
I am not condoning outing anyone. But I am charging us to support our brothers and sisters who feel shame, regret, anger, and fear at being gay. Help them tap into their own pride and sexuality and faith.
Truly that would be 'gay pride' and cause for a huge celebration.
Please send comments to this article: firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy c/o email@example.com . People of various faiths contribute monthly to column. Matheny is a co-host of Windy City Radio, Sundays, 11pm WCKG, 105.9FM.