Saturday, June 04, 2011

Gay Pride: A Celebration of True Humility

As I have done so for the last two years, I’ll be sharing during the month of June a series of posts marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) Pride Month – generally referred to simply as "Gay Pride."

To get The Wild Reed’s Gay Pride 2011 series underway, I share this evening excerpts from a very thoughtful and illuminating commentary by Steve Lenius, pictured at right. In this commentary, one that was first published in the June 2-15 issue of Minnesota's Lavender magazine, Lenius reflects upon the meaning of Pride.


. . . According to the thinking in certain theological circles, [LGBTI people throughout the month of June] are celebrating not just one of the Seven Deadly Sins, but the worst and most serious of them – the one that gives rise to the other six.

It gets worse. Over the centuries, people have formulated pairings of the Seven Deadly Sins and the demons who represent them. In at least two of these paintings, pride is as associated with Lucifer, the foremost of those "lost angels."

Let's define our terms here. Pride (and its synonym, hubris) is a translation of the Latin word "superbia," which means excessive love of self – thinking that one is better and/or more important than everyone else.

Dante defined it as "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor." Lucifer supposedly fell from heaven, and became a lost angel, because of his desire to compete with God.

That's not we're celebrating. . . . [LGBT Pride celebrations] are not about saying we're better than anyone else. They are about saying, and believing, that we're as good as anyone else.

We are able to do so despite all the hateful messages we've heard, and all the hateful things done to us over the years. Whether it's whom we love or how we love, many people have felt, and continue to feel, so threatened by people like us that they do their best to paint us as sick, twisted, immoral, perverted, and evil. They tell themselves and the rest of the world very loudly that they are not like us.

When confronted with people saying things like this, I remember that often, they are speaking first and most loudly to themselves, and to the part of themselves they feel they need to disown. For their sake, I hope one day, they will be able to accept and integrate that part of themselves. They will be happier, and they will no longer need to bully us to make themselves feel better or more righteous.

Fortunately, many people don't feel a need to attack us. . . . [T]hey don't perceive us as a threat, and they can accept us and support us as we are. They are allies, and we are blessed to have them.

. . . Back to theology: The Seven Deadly Sins, of course, have a counterpoint in the Seven Virtues, each one of which directly opposes one of the sins. The virtue opposite pride is humility, which through the centuries has been described as "knowing ourselves as we truly are," with the corollary of not getting uppity and thinking we can challenge . . . God (see Lucifer, above).

This is "true humility," as opposed to "false humility," which in insincerely pretending to be lesser, lower, or something other than what we truly are in order to receive approval and praise. False humility is pretty much universally condemned.

To me, that definition of false humility sounds like staying in the closet in order to receive society's approval. But . . . true humility – knowing ourselves as we truly are and living our life authentically – is what a Pride celebration is all about.

– Steve Lenius

NOTE: For the next in this series, click here.

See also the related Wild Reed posts:
Dan Furmansky: "Why We Have Pride"
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Quote of the Day – March 6, 2011

For The Wild Reed’s Gay Pride 2010 series, see:
Standing Strong
Growing Strong
Jesus and Homosexuality
It Is Not Good To Be Alone
The Bisexual: “Living Consciously and Consistently in the Place Where the Twain Meet”
Spirituality and the Gay Experience
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride
Worldwide Gay Pride

For The Wild Reed's Gay Pride 2009 series, see:
A Mother’s Request to President Obama: Full Equality for My Gay Son
Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: Five Years On
It Shouldn’t Matter. Except It Does
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Not Just Another Political Special Interest Group
Can You Hear Me, Yet, My Friend?
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride
Worldwide Gay Pride


Anonymous said...

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength?

How can Pride be Humility?

How can a mortal sin be a virtue?

Michael J. Bayly said...

It can't be. But the "pride" in Gay Pride isn't the "sin" of "excessive love of self" but rather, as Lenius says, a grateful and humble acknowledgement and appreciation of "knowing ourselves as we truly are and living our life authentically."

Look in any dictionary and you'll see that "pride" also means "self-respect" and/or "self-esteem." The meaning of the word has clearly expanded over the centuries.

I'm sure you can distinguish between the different meanings of the word "pride." For instance, when you hear parents telling their children to take pride in their work, you wouldn't say that what they're actually doing is instructing them in "mortal sin," would you? I hope not.

It's a similar thing with "Gay Pride." It's all about acknowledging our self worth and having self-respect and, most importantly, self-love. Let's not forget that Jesus was very clear in saying that we need a healthy degree of self-love in order to love others. He taught that the crucial thing for us to do in life is to love God, love our neighbors, and love ourselves. "Do this and you will live!"

The "living" that Jesus calls us to includes a sense of self-respect, self-worth and self-love. And, like it or not, the embodiment of these life-giving qualities is often referred to today as having a healthy sense of pride.



Terence Weldon said...

To Ecce Homo:

Refer to your Catechism, which states that sexuality is an important part of our humanity, which we must embrace.

There is nothing in orthodox Catholic theology to suggest that a gay orientation is in itself sinful. To attempt to hide it is simply to succumb to the Church's own social sin of homophobia