It's National Coming Out Day! YAY!!!!!!!!
A few weeks ago, the Tucson YAVs all attended a Pride Festival together as a community event!
I love pride! This was my second Pride Festival and I fully believe that Pride, not Disney World is the happiest place on earth. There is so much joy. Its a celebration of everyone getting to express their gender, sexuality, and self in anyway they chose.
We did all of the typical Pride things: collected free stuff with rainbows on it, watched live performances, and took lots of pictures. And it was so much fun!
Pride is a great time knowing that I can be fully open about my sexuality with everyone there and I will be celebrated and affirmed.
Even as much as I love the affirming space that was created at Pride, I recently had another experience that affirmed me in my identity more.
This event was a worship service called More Light Sunday.
More Light Presbyterians is an organization within the Presbyterian Church (USA) that has been advocating for LGBTQ people in the PC(USA) since 1992. The name comes from saying that there was “yet more light to shine forth on the scriptures” in terms of LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
When walking into the sanctuary on that Sunday, the first thing I saw were ribbons hanging from the center over the communion table. One set of ribbons hung down to form a rainbow pride flag and the others made the pink, blue and white trans+ flag.
The ribbons that hung in the center of the sanctuary on More Light Sunday to represent the LGBTQ+ community.Everyone was given a sticker that said “Be-Loved” on a background of either the gay pride flag or the trans+ flag. And many people donned rainbows on their shirts and other parts of their clothes.
For all of those aspects and the joy felt within the room, it was very simliar to Pride. But the difference came during worship.
Many of the songs and liturgy could be used in a variety of contexts. Micah 6:8 was one of the scriptures and “this little light of mine” was one of the songs. These are used in a variety of worship contexts.
But even with scriptures and songs that I am familiar with, it was so powerful to hear them in this context. To hear it being said from the pulpit and directed toward the LGBTQIA+ community. A community of people who are all too often forgotten about and demonized by the church.
It was so powerful to be able to listen to a woman preach who was invited there not despite her sexuality, but because of it. It was more than a church saying that they are inclusive. It was showing it right there from the pulpit as they literally preached inclusivity.
This was a much different feeling for me than the Pride Festival because it was at church. I have been affirmed in my sexuality by family, friends, and strangers countless times. But this may be the first time that I have felt affirmed by an institution.
I have always had weird feelings about being open about my sexuality in the church. This isn’t because I think that homosexuality is a sin. I believe that God created me this way and will always love me just as I am. Embracing my sexuality makes me feel closer to God, not farther way.
No, the reason I have weird feelings about my sexuality and the church is that I never know how other Christians are going to react if I say that I am not straight. It has always been the judgement of people that makes me more nervous than the judgement of God.
But having a worship service dedicated to LGBTQIA+ inclusion and affirmation changes that narrative entirely.
Seeing a rainbow flag hanging at a church is great, but it having an entire worship service planned out and dedicated to praising God with the LGBTQ community that was so impactful for me.
A couple times during worship I was close to tears. There were so many LGBTQ people leading parts of the service. It was incredible.
To be fully affirmed by a church for who I am was so powerful. This may be the first time that I have felt fully included into a church and it was only my second time being there.
This made me take time to reflect on how important inclusion is. Not just LGBTQ inclusion, but the inclusion of all ethnicities, languages, beliefs and people.
Standing there and witnessing a church taking steps to be completely inclusive of LGBTQ people meant more to me than the secular world being accepting of me.
Christianity as a whole has so much power as one of the major world religions. This power can either be used to make every person feel included or it can be used to create divisions among us.
I hope there are more instances of the former. I have hope that people can be amazed and moved by how inclusive and loving Christians can be of all of God’s people.