I was looking at shirts today to wear to NYC’s Pride Parade, and I ran across this one, that says “I stand on the right side of history.” But I have a confession to make. I’m not sure I am allowed to wear this shirt.
I have not always stood on the right side of history on the issues of marriage equality and equal rights, and it embarrasses me to admit my past.
I remember being in college and in a small group at my church. In this small group some girls were talking about seeing people at their college rallying for gay rights and waving rainbow flags. In my naiveté, I made that suggestion that we as Christians needed to take back the rainbows from gays. That they didn’t deserve to use this symbol. That they were ruining this symbol. Writing and reading those words now, it embarrasses me. And that is just one story and instance.
Fast forwarding a few years, when I first started at my current church, I was approached by a church member and a committee was formed to look at becoming an inclusive church and an inclusive youth group. I admit that even at that point, just a few years ago, I wasn’t open to this. My thoughts then were LGBTQ people were free to do what they want, but I wasn’t going to get involved.
Even just a year ago I was in NYC the same day as the Pride Parade, and I remember this sense of unease.
Perhaps then God was convicting me for my unloving beliefs.
And I apologize. I apologize for being just one of many voices against equal rights. I apologize for beliefs I held and the lack of love I showed. I apologize for not listening more closely to the voice of God and the voice of my brothers and sisters.
God did not just leave me at that point though. Recently I have been attending a community that welcomes LQBTQ people. For the past several months, on the third Monday of the month I have been making the pilgrimage from NJ to Brooklyn to attend Not So Churchy. There I have not only had to opportunity to hear the stories and faith of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, but their faith journeys have grown and enriched my own.
I have begun to think that statistically, in a youth group my size, I will have several youth questioning and struggling with their sexual identities.
I have begun to think about how we can be a welcoming youth group and how I can be a welcoming and accepting presence in the lives of my youth and their friends.
My conversion story has been a long process. From that moment in college. To being ambivalent. To arriving where I am today. There have been lots of little things and big things that have along the way changed my heart.
God continues to reshape my heart in this area. But what I want to say is be patient with us who are slow to love and slow to show understanding. God is never done shaping and changing us.
And this is why I have pride in a God who never stops loving us.
This God is gracious with us when we don’t show love. I have pride in a God who keeps working on us and changing us, if we just open ourselves.
This year I will be attending my first Pride Parade, and I am bringing 6 other people from my church with me. And God is not done with me yet!
I may not have always stood on the right side of history. But I am there now.
And maybe, just maybe I have earned the right to wear this shirt?