Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis
As LGBTQ people and their allies gather for the annual Twin Cities Pride Festival and Parade, we do so under the shadow of a growing and vocal backlash against LGBTQ equality and inclusion. And while Pride has always been a misunderstood and contested cultural and institutional phenomenon in recent history, it foregrounds a relatively simple impulse among the disinherited within a society: the desire for respect, recognition, and affirmation. The story of LGBTQ people in the United States since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969 is a story of liberated lives. It is a story of finding one’s place and purpose as beloved and valued. It is a story of a people’s very identity and visibility arising victorious out of hatred, violence, and repression. It is a story of a people whose marginality and vulnerability testify to the ongoing need for vigilance in pursuing justice for all.
The swift progress in LGBTQ civil and human rights and the lasting religious objections to the full inclusion of LGBTQ people may lead us to assume that Pride is nothing more than a party replete with “woke” celebrity endorsement and corporate sponsorship. But like any group that has fought to be treated with dignity and have their humanity recognized, Pride is more than a party or a frivolity, regardless of how it is perceived. All those brave souls and their families who take the risk to show their faces at a Pride festival, even as anti-gay rhetoric and religious attacks against them persist, do so as an act of thanksgiving, an expression of inherent worth, and a source of hope.
When I read the stories of God’s people Israel and their liberation from bondage, exile into foreign lands away from all they knew, and return to their homeland from exile, when I recall my forebears who endured enslavement and sacrificed their lives to make this nation live up to its values of freedom and equality for all people, I am reminded that just like the oppressed and disinherited before us, the forces of oppression, for a time, can rob a people of their name, heritage, humanity, and equality. So, we know that we enjoy freedom and visibility made possible but not entirely enjoyed by the Stonewall generation. We owe it to them to embrace our identities, sexualities, and expressions with pride and faith and seek justice and liberation for all those who remain on the margins.
Please join us in making Pride a time of thanksgiving where we remember that we enjoy the gift of liberation our forebears fought hard to secure and commit ourselves to giving back. Please help us tell and share our story of us. It is a story of liberation, gratitude, and pride. It is a story of divine inspiration and recognition of our full personhood. It is a story of liberated lives, a blessing I hope all God’s children will enjoy.