Yesterday (Sunday, June 24) I participated in the Twin Cities Gay Pride Parade with a contingent of “welcoming and affirming” Catholic parishes and organizations.
We call ourselves “Inclusive Catholics,” and received quite a warm reception from the thousands of people who watched as the parade made its way along Hennepin Ave. in downtown Minneapolis, to nearby Loring Park.
As in previous years, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) had an informational booth in Loring Park for the duration of the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival – Saturday, June 23 – Sunday, June 24, 2007. It was heartening to see so many faith communities represented by other informational booths in Loring Park.
People sometimes ask me what I think of the whole “gay pride” concept. It’s not an expression I generally use. I mean, I don’t go around telling everyone I’m “proud” of my sexuality. It seems rather strange. We don’t, after all, announce that we’re “proud” of our spirituality, physicality, or our personality. These things, like one’s sexuality, are simply part-and-parcel of who we are.
I think “gay pride” is actually a reaction to the negative messages that aspects of our society and, sadly, some of our faith traditions still send to anyone who does not conform to a heterosexual ideal. Such messages are the product of ignorance, fear, and/or bigotry. Thankfully, however, they’re being increasingly countered by more reasoned and compassionate messages - messages of understanding, respect, and acceptance of difference.
Yet many remain deeply oppressed and/or hurt by those negative messages, and “gay pride” provides people – gay and straight – a very powerful and public way of standing up to and rejecting such messages.
I have no doubt that there’ll come a day when “gay pride” events are a thing of the past – for the simple reason that the reality of sexual diversity will be fully accepted by society and by our faith traditions – including my own Catholic faith tradition.
In their own way, the various “Gay Pride” events that take place around the world in the month of June, serve to help usher in such a day. Many of these events (or aspects of them) educate and enlighten the wider community about the reality of non-heterosexual lives and relationships. They put a recognizably human face onto issues and concepts that, for some, may be perplexing or even frightening. Such humanizing endeavors are what build bridges of respect and understanding.
Above: My friends Lily and Mari Ann prepare to participate with other “inclusive Catholics” in Sunday’s Twin Cities Gay Pride Parade.
Above: CPCSM treasurer Paul Fleege and Catholic Rainbow Parents Georgia Mueller and Mary Lynn Murphy staff the CPCSM/Inclusive Catholics informational booth in Loring Park – Saturday, June 23, 2007.
Above: CPCSM president and Catholic Rainbow Parents coordinator Mary Lynn Murphy with her son Ryan at the CPCSM/Inclusive Catholics booth – Saturday, June 23, 2007.
Above: Standing from left: Michael Douglas, his partner and CPCSM co-founder David McCaffrey, former CPCSM board member Aimee, CPCSM executive coordinator Michael Bayly, and CPCSM president and Catholic Rainbow Parents coordinator Mary Lynn Murpy – Saturday, June 23, 2007.
One of the great aspects of Pride is the opportunity it provides to catch up with friends one hasn’t seen for a while – maybe even not since the previous year’s Pride! CPCSM members and longtime partners Jeff and Jack are pictured above visiting the CPCSM/Inclusive Catholics booth on Sunday, June 24, 2007.
One thing reaffirmed for me at this year’s Pride is the fact that gay folks really like their pooches! There were many individuals and couples strolling through the park and perusing the 300+ booths with dogs of all shapes and sizes in tow. As you can see, Jeff and Jack were no exception.
Above: Lois Swenson, Jane McDonald, Rick Notch, and Paula Ruddy at the CPCSM/Inclusive Catholics booth – Sunday, June 24, 2007.
You might remember that I recently posted on the Wild Reed an interesting and thought-provoking commentary by my friend Paula. It can be viewed here.
Above: St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral. I look forward to the day when the nearby Catholic Basilica of St. Mary is similarly draped in rainbow colors in honor of the annual Twin Cities Gay Pride celebrations.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Worldwide Gay Pride
Celebrating Our Sanctifying Truth
Trusting God's Generous Invitation
Our Catholic “Stonewall Moment”