41 Years of PRIDE
by Kathye Hamm
41 Years! Wow! That’s how many years we Lutherans have been marching in the PRIDE Parade in San Francisco!
That means that faithful, brave, committed Lutherans were marching in this parade when most of us Lutherans were trying to figure out how we felt about folks whose sexual orientation was different than the “norm”, were trying to figure out how to respond to the AIDS epidemic, and were trying to figure out what the Bible said about homosexuality.
Those Lutherans were marching in support of GLBTQ folks before we had even added all those letters to name their identities.
Forty-one years ago, I was still in high school, and had just been told by my best friend – my brother Kris – that he was gay. He asked me if I thought he was going to hell, and I honestly didn’t know how to answer him. I had never heard a Lutheran pastor say anything about Gays or Lesbians. So I just wasn’t sure . . .
I began studying – which is what I do when I usually have questions. I read about it. Some years later, I gave classes on what the Bible says about human sexuality, (which I’m still happy to do in churches, by the way! Let me know if you’d like me to give a class at your church.), I gave classes to young people about AIDS and the church, and I volunteered as an AIDS chaplain in New Jersey. I buried more young men than I care to count – most of whose family members were not in attendance at their son or brother or nephew’s Memorial service. And then I attended, along with my family, Kris’ Memorial Service. That still stands as one of the saddest days of my life.
So when I headed down the hill on June, 30th— a beautiful sunny morning, after worshiping at St. Mark’s in the city, along with Cora Rose, a candidate for Deacon in our synod, and her husband Cory Schoolland, I imagined my brother and all the saints who have gone before us walking with us – to march in the PRIDE Parade!
Along with us, were little Lutherans riding in wagons and waving Pride flags, youth, young adults, middle-aged people — pastors, lay folks and seminarians – Lutherans from different congregations in our synod. The President of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, The Rev. Dr. Ray Pinkett, and Assistant to the Bishop, The Rev. Katy Grindberg were riding in the car to lead the parade!
It was a glorious day! What a wonderful testament our marching was to the community that we Lutherans accept and welcome all of God’s children – no exceptions!
We still have a way to go, though, don’t we? Some of our GLBTQ pastors are having a difficult time getting called to our churches, and too many GLBTQ brothers and sisters still experience discrimination at so many levels.
It looks like Jesus is still calling us to be faithful, brave and committed – to make sure all of God’s children are included, invited and given the message that God is madly in love with them.
Indeed – with all of us!
God’s blessings to you this summer,
September 17, 2019
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