Daily thoughts by a guy that doesn't like to think deeply too often!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Gay Pride, from a Priest's Point of View

Here is a letter that my Priest mailed to the congregation this week. What a cool perspective! Enjoy:

A Moment of Truth in the Gay Pride Parade
Charlotte and I changed clothes at church and took MARTA to Midtown to join the Gay Pride parade. I had never marched in the parade before, and even on the train I still had mixed feelings about it. My concern came from my awareness that the parade engenders a festive, carnival atmosphere, and that many of the people marching and watching are intentionally flashy, glitzy, gaudy, flamboyant (add your own adjective). Although the Mardi Gras and Carnival parades in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro (for example) involve more lavish costumes and outrageous behavior (and dwarf the Gay Pride parade in Atlanta), they are not associated primarily with the gay community, and people do not tend to see them on the news and think, "That's what heterosexuality is all about". My concern has been that the news always shows the most sensational footage of the Gay Pride parade, and many straight people who do not know gays living quiet, responsible, faithful lives see a ten-second clip on the news and, having no other frame of reference think, "That's what being gay is all about". It is not fair, but it may be a reality, and I was hesitant to contribute to it.When Charlotte and I arrived, we were quickly discovered by other Episcopalians and taken to the staging area. About fifty Episcopalians from around the diocese marched together. Most wore beautiful purple tee shirts that said, "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You". I wore my clergy shirt and collar.Before we started, the Rev. Mac Thigpen, rector of St. Bart's, called us together and reminded us that for many in the parade and on the sidelines, we would represent the only message they had ever gotten from a church that God loves them. "How true, and how sad", I recall thinking.We marched from the Civic Center MARTA station to Piedmont Park. Despite threatening weather, the streets were lined with spectators. I was struck by how many, both gay and straight (I knew some of them) gave us a heartfelt "Thank you". It was simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking.For folks that are uptight about seeing men in drag wearing large headdresses and such, this would have been an uncomfortable event. For Charlotte and me, it was more fun than Halloween. It was indeed a festive, carnival atmosphere, and everyone was having fun.When we got to Piedmont Park, the weather stopped being threatening and delivered on it's promise. The rain came down in sheets, and Charlotte and I, who had no umbrella or cover, were quickly soaked to the bone. After a wet lunch, we hiked through the rain back to the MARTA station and rode home looking like drowned rats!Would I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! Ironically, it was the media I was worried about, and it was the media God used to show me that I was in the right place. During the parade, a camera crew came up to me (no doubt because I was wearing a collar). An interviewer stuck a microphone in my face, told me what outfit he represented (I couldn't make it out, but it was not CBS News or the like) and asked my name. Then he asked, "What message does God have for gay people today?".Wow! Talk about cutting to the chase! Without thinking, I said, "You are my beloved children." The interviewer seemed surprised and, after a pause, said "How nice!". I traveled on.Would I march again? The opportunity to say that into a microphone to so many people for whom such a message is revolutionary, undelivered, and unheard Good News, made it clear to me that I was in the right place. The message to my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters is the same as it is to my straight brothers and sisters: "You are my beloved children".The Rev. James H. Pritchett, St. John's Episcopal Church, College Park, GA


Anonymous Anonymous said...

A lovely and obviously heartfelt message.

8:09 PM


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