The Ongoing Need for Pride

Rev. Dr. DeWayne L. Davis

This Week at Plymouth, May 31, 2024

The desire to be acknowledged and included is seen as pathological, while the destructive exclusion of people’s lives become the definition of reasonable.

—Sarah Schulman, Ties That Bind

The month of June is LGBTQ Pride Month, an annual commemoration of the gay liberation protests in 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village in NYC and a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender visibility, dignity, and equality. As LGBTQ people and their allies prepare to participate in parades, festivals, rallies, and concerts, social media and news outlets will feature messages asking why there must be Pride celebrations. Despite the progress that LGBTQ people have made, mainly since the Supreme Court affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples, the need for LGBTQ visibility and advocacy has grown more critical. In recent years, an effective, persistent backlash against LGBTQ people has gained ground. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is tracking 515 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in state legislatures. In 2023, several states enacted laws prohibiting transgender athletes from participating in school sports and banning gender-affirming care for minors.

LGBTQ Pride has been a powerful tool for advocating for the recognition of the humanity and dignity of LGBTQ people and their full inclusion in political, religious, and cultural spheres. For a long time, there was a consensus to exclude LGBTQ people, with the unquestioned belief that they should be marginalized in society without legal, cultural, and religious rights and privileges. Pride disrupts this consensus and demands that legal, political, and governmental institutions recognize our right to equal protection under the law and take a stand against any form of violence, rejection, and discrimination. When we gather for Pride celebrations, we combat the consensus for exclusion through beloved community where the lies told about us, the laws used against us, and the weapons aimed against us lose their power.

Unfortunately, as news of the backlash continues to flood the airwaves and computer screens, I have become reacquainted with the power of lament even as I anticipate Pride celebrations. How long do we have to endure the insults, the attacks, the hatred, the political campaigns to strip us of equality under the law? How long must we bear the hate crimes committed against us? How long must we grieve the terror visited upon us, especially our trans and gender non-conforming siblings? With Pride, I hear the echo of “not long.” Pride allows us to show the power of love, to show off our coats of many colors, literally and figuratively, revealing our richness and diversity in the symbol of the rainbow. We claim the right and privilege to share our dream of a world filled with singing, dancing, affirmation, and celebration of all God’s children. Love will win over all attempts to afflict, persecute, or strike us down. Love will make the case for us in a world too mired in hate and violence to notice. Show love. Show Pride.