what i learned at gay pride.

mjkimpan  —  July 1, 2014 — 11 Comments

CNN last year, i wrote a blog post about my experience participating in The Marin Foundation’s I’m Sorry Campaign as we stood in front of these protestors during Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade.

<sidenote :: if you’re unfamiliar with the history of Gay Pride, i highly suggest watching this documentary which outlines the beginning of the LGBT equality movement at the Stonewall Inn in NYC – you can find other helpful documentaries on LGBT history and theology here>

i titled the post LOVE is louder

in spite of the 20 foot tall signs and bullhorns used by the protestors spewing words of hate, our simple sings of love with slogans like ‘I’m Sorry for how the church has treated you’ or ‘God loves you’ spoke volumes.

this year, we brought more people, with bigger signs – and the result was nothing short of extraordinary.

CNN picked up our story and published the photo above here – which is an honor; yet what stirred my soul even more than our little band of radical bridge builders having the publicity platform of one of the nation’s largest news organizations were the reactions i witnessed time and time again from our LGBT brothers and sisters marching in the parade.

to be fair, there were numerous folks who (quite understandably) flipped the protestors behind us the bird, cursed, screamed, or shook their heads and even laughed in the face of the blatant discrimination and hatred.

but far more of the folks marching took a different approach – one that reflects the life, teachings and example of jesus – whether or not they actually claim to follow him.

but i say to you, love your enemies,
and pray for those who persecute you

time and time again i watched as those who were being told they weren’t loved by God, that they were going to hell – and worse – responded with these words ::

‘even though you hate us, we love you!’

‘we love you anyway!’

‘God loves you even if you don’t know him (or her)!’

i’m not making this stuff up.

in the midst of being shouted at through bullhorns and being called reprobates, abominations, disgusting and ‘not even human’ (a verbatim quote), these beautiful individuals stunned me with a love for all of humanity that i’m not certain even i possess – and i’ve devoted my life to preaching a message of LOVE.

on the back of our I’m Sorry t-shirts is the slogan ‘Love Is My Orientation’ – and yet as we were setting up our signs in front of the protestors early in the morning before the parade began, under the weight of accusations and the maniacal mocking of the street preachers i found myself muttering under my breath, ‘maybe these are the types of people christ went nuts on.’

if i could’ve made a whip of reeds and flipped some tables without being arrested, i would have.

these are the broods of vipers, the sons of the devil and liars who put burdens too hard to bear on the people – all things jesus said about the legalistic religious elite of his own day.

christ had harsh words for these play-actors who claimed to know God.

these protestors (and others like them) are the modern day pharisees, those who claim to know the Law but struggle with the most important commandment – to love their neighbor.

so i found myself actually hating them, even creating violent fantasizes in my head to shut them up.

but LOVE is louder.

as i watched and listened to the reactions of my LGBT friends marching down the parade route, i found my own faith challenged to become more loving, more christ-like – even toward those who are full of hate and animus.

regardless of their orientation or faith tradition (or lack thereof), a great many of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans* people who marched past provided a glimpse of the kingdom of God here, on earth.

with every tear-filled hug and ‘thank you for being here today’ i received, i responded with a genuine, ‘thank you for being here’ – because i found myself growing in my own faith, continuing on my own personal journey to actually act like the jesus i so often claim to follow.

may we each find christ in even unexpected places and learn the same.

– to learn more about our I’m Sorry Campaign and other resources and opportunities to participate in building bridges with The Marin Foundation, click here. to support The Marin Foundation and our work, click here.

  • http://pragmaticmystery.wordpress.com Eric M.

    Sometimes it’s hard for me to admit that while Jesus had harsh words for people like that, ultimately He died for them just as much as He did for me.

    I’m glad you were there to remind people that love is louder than fear, ignorance, and hate.

  • jason

    Proud to be your friend

  • Tim Walstrum

    These preachers aren’t the ones who bother me. I at least appreciate they put it all out on the table. There is no ambiguity in their message and people see them for what they are. I consider the bigger threats people like Julie Rodgers and Matt Moore who claim the mantle of being gay yet preach that those who aren’t celibate are sinners. It is a kinder gentler you are going to hell message and one that I feel is more damaging to those more fragile in the GLBT community.

  • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

    it seems the Disqus comment feature was disabled yesterday, so a number of comments were listed as potential spam via wordpress. unfortunately, they didn’t transfer over, so i’ll list them each below ::

  • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

    Tim Walstrum wrote :: These preachers aren’t the ones who bother me. I at least appreciate they put it all out on the table. There is no ambiguity in their message and people see them for what they are. I consider the bigger threats people like Julie Rodgers and Matt Moore who claim the mantle of being gay yet preach that those who aren’t celibate are sinners. It is a kinder gentler you are going to hell message and one that I feel is more damaging to those more fragile in the GLBT community.

  • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

    jason wrote :: Proud to be your friend

  • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

    Eric M. wrote :: Sometimes it’s hard for me to admit that while Jesus had harsh words for people like that, ultimately He died for them just as much as He did for me.

    I’m glad you were there to remind people that love is louder than fear, ignorance, and hate.

  • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

    thank you each for engaging – and my apologies for not being able to catch this earlier! hopefully the problem’s fixed. comment away, folks!

  • Marcin Bartnicki

    Thank you for posting this. I was raised Catholic and stopped considering myself a Christian a long time ago, but your account brought tears to my eyes.

    If you are based in Chicago, I would love you to go on the Feast of Fun podcast – it is run by two gay guys from Chicago (their website is http://feastoffun.com) – it may seem more fun oriented at first, but they really cover all kinds of topics of interest to the LGBT community and have guests from all walks of life.

    • http://www.mjkimpan.com/ michael j. kimpan

      thanks, marcin! i’d certainly be willing to do something with those guys – do you have contact info for them?