There is a Pride for You.
I attended my first Pride Parade by accident. For five minutes. It was cold and windy, and I could only stay for the length of a quick smoke break. I hadn’t known about the parade, but my first cigarette of the kitchen shift just happened to coincide with shouting and a riot of colour down George Street.
I called to a silver-haired couple walking in tutus.
“Is this Pride?!”
“It’s Pride! Happy Pride!” They strutted away laughing, a vision of true love in pink tulle. I laughed too, clapping my hands. I thought it was wonderful, and I wanted to tell everyone back in the restaurant kitchen about what I’d seen: the pipe band, the trade unions, and the families. I smoked as slowly as I could.
I was about to head in, but over the wind I heard people begin to sing. Suddenly, I was sobbing and I couldn’t stop. Even amid the booming sound systems playing Cher and Madonna, the song was unmistakable. They were singing “Jesus Loves Me.” I balled up my apron in my hands, sat on the sidewalk and cried.
I looked up and I was surrounded by the singers: It was St. Andrew’s United and the Affirm congregations of Peterborough. They looked worried; through my ugly-crying I managed to thank them and promise that I was ok. They marched on in a swirl of glitter and streamers.
They couldn’t know that I had lost my faith community when I came out, and that they were the first LGBT+ affirming congregation I’d ever seen. I’d been told before that I was forever cut off from my spiritual life. Now, the first time, I felt that maybe there was a place for queers like me, and that God loved me still. These wonderful allies in their royal blue shirts had told me so.
I invite you to come to Pride, to engage critically and passionately with it. I know I do. Most of all, come and find the parts of Pride that are life-giving just for you. There are things that we can give each other as a community that no powers nor state can ever take away.