Pride

PRIDE

Disclaimer: This is a *fictional* story, not an actual personal experience. I hope to do something like this some day, and to live out love like this every day. But this is just a short story.

It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” – James 4:6 MSG

I step out of the van and ignore the immediate hostility of passers-by.

Two cross-dressers glare at me as they head toward the parade route. A man is crawling on the pavement in leather chaps; he has a leash around his neck, and another man is ‘walking’ him. He barks at me.

These are among the more tame participants. It strikes me as odd that in such a crowd, I am the one who gets strange looks.

If I am embarrassed at all now, well… it’s going to get a lot worse.

I make my way to the edge of the crowd and try to squeeze through to the front. I need to be visible if this is going to be of any value. When people turn and see me, they assume they know what I’m here to do. I get jostled and shoved a few times as I gently push my way through. “Bigot,” one person says. “Homophobe! Go home!”

“Get out of the closet already, Bible-thumper.”

The police are out in force. Pride parades often get a lot of attention, not all of it good. That one church from Kansas is lined up farther down the street. Some local churches have put up their own signs, not willing to be outdone by these famous out-of-towners with the “God hates fags” posters.

The cops are busy keeping people marching in the parade from getting into fights with the various protest groups. None of them notice when I finally reach the rope that marks the edge of the parade route.

I stand at the edge and lean out, a Jesus in Teva sandals, a wig, and a polyester white robe with a red sash I borrowed from our church drama team. The beard is mine, scraggly but full enough after two months of growth.

The first few people to see me react in anger, swearing, shaking fists. “You don’t belong here,” they yell, along with some other choice words. People in the crowd throw half-empty Starbucks cups and large sodas and McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Ketchup and mustard splatter across my white sleeve.

No one throws rotten fruit any more. It’s not readily available, and it’s too expensive.

The folks marching in the parade are not happy to see me, either. Rainbow signs with witty slogans are shoved in my face. I don’t know if they’re meant to block my view with their message, or block the view of the other marchers so that no one else has to see another religious jerk condemning everyone in sight.

“What’s another name for the Crucifixion?” one guy asks the girl next to him, loud enough for me to overhear. She shrugs.

“A good start,” he says.

She laughs, and glances my way, her smile turning into a sneer.

I reach out a hand to those marching, and someone spits at it. The next person ignores me, stepping away.

“I am sorry,” I say, and he looks back, brow furrowed. But he’s too far past me now.

Mostly all I get from the faces in the crowd is the strong sense that I am unwelcome–a defensive posture and wounded expression that demands to know, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here. This is ours… go away.”

I catch another guy’s hand, someone in a leather jacket, boots, and briefs. He recoils in disgust, but then I say, “I am sorry for how we have hurt you,” and he pauses.

Someone else spits on me. “Go back to the tomb, Jeebus.” His partner winks at me and says, “Hey, baby, I’ll nail ya.” They walk away laughing.

The man in the leather jacket, whose hand I grabbed–he simply nods to me, and I think I see his eyes glisten as he turns and continues in the parade.

A thin guy explodes into a rant with more f-bombs than actual words, arms waving, fists clenched. “What the f’ing f are you f’ing trying to do, f’er? You f’ing f’s think you’re f’ing doing any good with your f’ing ‘God hates fags’ signs and your f’ed up little white dress? Do you really f’ing think I give one good f’ing G-D what the f you f’ing have to say to me? F!!! I f’ing hate you, I f’ing hate your f’ing book that does f-all to teach love and tolerance, and I f’ing hate the f out of the f’ing God you represent! What now?”

He gets in my face.

“I’m sorry,” I say, and a tear runs down my cheek. “I’m sorry for how we have hurt you.”

He opens his mouth to speak, but nothing comes out.

I think of the recent news stories I’ve heard, the angry sermons on the Internet, the callous defenses of indefensible statements.

“I’m sorry for how we’ve let people say we should ‘smack the gay out of children,’ or put them behind electric fences.”

He says nothing now, but he continues staring at me.

“I’m sorry for how we’ve pointed the finger at all of you, instead of preaching against our own arrogance, our own pride, our own prejudice and hatred. I’m sorry for how we act like you are less than human.”

“I came to say I’m sorry for my people and what we have done.”

His friend grabs his arm and pulls him away. “Come on, man.” But he keeps looking back, and I see him mouth the words, “Thank you.”

Another person spits on me, and a big guy just happens to hit me with his elbow. “Bigot,” he mutters.

This pattern repeats itself for an hour and a half, some people accepting my hand in friendship, many slapping it aside at first, some of them turning back to acknowledge the apologies I offer.

One of the people in the crowd behind me tugs at my shoulder. He’s holding a black leather Bible, with the gold edges on the pages and a little fish over a monogram in the corner of the cover. “You’re in the wrong place, brother. We’re all protesting at the other end of this block.” He points to where the angry people are waving their signs and shouting Scripture like a battle cry.

I nod and remain in my spot on the street.

Two women walk by, arm-in-arm. The blonde says, “You want us to confess our sins, pervert? We’ve been verrry naughty.”

They giggle as they approach. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Bible Guy watching.

“I would like to confess my sins to you,” I say.

“Ooooh,” the other coos. “Kinky. Yeah, do it.”

“I am sorry for the double standards we use to judge you,” I begin, and the smiles disappear.

“I am sorry for acting like one sin is worse than any other, for acting like our sins don’t matter to God as much as yours. I’m sorry for behaving like we’re better than you.”

They are quiet, holding hands, waiting as I continue. Bible Guy storms off to rejoin his protest.

“I am sorry for treating you like you don’t deserve our love–like you don’t deserve God’s love.”

The parade marches on behind them. I look at them through tear-clouded vision.

“I love you. We love you. I am sorry for how often we fail to show it. We shouldn’t see you as what you do, but I know we also do that. Please accept my apology on behalf of my people.””

I extend a hand after wiping it off on a clean spot of my robe. They hug me instead, ignoring the chopped onions and ketchup and diet Dr. Pepper.

We stand there, hugging, for about a minute before they thank me and move on.

Bible Guy is back with friends, and they’re not happy. “Don’t you know Leviticus says homosexuals are an abomination and the Bible says it’s a sin?”

“I know,” I reply.

“Yeah, well, maybe you need to get your Gospel straight before you come out here supporting all these queers.”

“I know what the Bible says about homosexuality, and so does the rest of the world,” I fire back. “What they don’t know, what they aren’t seeing, is what the Bible says about loving others!”

“Hey Jimmy,” Bible Guy says to one of his friends, “What do you think we should do with false Christs?”

It takes a couple minutes for the police to respond to the situation and break up the fight. I’m the freak in an offensive costume, so I end up in the handcuffs. “For your protection, bud,” one of the cops tells me as he drags me away from the parade.

Sitting in the back of the paddy wagon, I pull off the wig and rub a bloody jaw.

“Not the smartest move ever for the Son of God, eh, bud?”

“Yeah, I guess not.” I answer. I don’t believe that, though. I felt the hugs, I spotted tears, I saw the faces change from rage to respect. “Then again, things didn’t go so well for Him either, so it’s nothing new.”

The cop laughs. “I thought I saw those punks head back over to the protest after we grabbed you. You sure got them riled.”

“They’re mad because I used to be one of the ones holding signs.”

“Oh… yeah, I used to hate dealing with this parade each year, too. And then my son started marching in them.”

He offers me a cup of water. “Take it you get beat up by Christians a lot?”

“You’d be surprised.” I take a drink. “It was the religious leaders that wanted Jesus dead, not the so-called sinners.”

“Feh.” The cop looks back out to the crowd. “I just wish those guys would go back to their caves sometimes.”

“They can’t help it,” I reply. “They kind of belong here. The event is all about celebrating pride. They’re just full of a different kind.”

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15 thoughts on “Pride”

  1. It is encouraging and beautiful to see a Christian that encourages love in God’s name, all the while standing against violent opposition from those that have been wounded in God’s name. I give you a thousand salutes for being a pillar of love and acceptance, and I’m sorry you were hurt.

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    1. I hope I haven’t sent you the same reply several times. I felt very bad when I saw your comment, because I did not intend to mislead anyone. On the pages where I shared a link to this, I made it clear that this was just a story I wrote — one I hope I might live out someday, perhaps, but still just a piece of fiction. I added a disclaimer at the top to make that clearer in case people found this through tags or other avenues.

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      1. It’s quite all right. I’m actually relieved something of that magnitude did not happen, even though I can clearly see it happening to others. Just the fact that you wrote clearly shows your drive to convey love through Christianity, so my response to your post has not changed much. I am still very happy to learn of a Christian that does not use their faith to encourage hatred, death and damnation of others.

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  2. Reblogged this on Peorth's Portal and commented:
    Not all Christians use their faith as a way to condone evil. There are the rare few that promote God’s eternal, unfailing love properly-without condemning others to cruel, violent damnation.

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  3. Very interesting way to show Biblical truths.I don’t know if you will ever live this out, but it was fascinating to read!

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  4. Hmmm. Interesting. I totally agree that we are supposed to love and not judge anyone. However, I feel there is one problem with your message. The difference between you going in the crowd and Jesus going into the crowd is that He is the Son of God and has the power to forgive all those sinners. For you to go into the same crowd is a nice gesture but I think a little prideful to think that by your one act of kindness you will cover up the nastiness of all those “gay haters”. Jesus went to the sinners with a different message than you are going with. He was going to point out their sins in a tactful way. You are going out to say we accept and love you. Jesus didn’t do that. His intention in EVERY meeting was repentance. He didn’t go out with a message to ACCEPT them. On the contrary, He went out to reveal sin and show them they need Him to be forgiven of that sin. A good example is the woman at the well. She was cast out by religious leaders, shunned. Jesus went out and revealed her sin to her, like everyone els, but told her He had living water to save her of her transgressions. He didn’t say, “Oh I know you are sleeping with everyone in town, but I came to tell you I love you anyway…..” NO that was only part of the message. Christians are becoming too tolerant. It is fine to love people in their choices, but it is not ok to accept sin. As believer our mission is to lead them to Christ, not be people pleasers. The only one we should be pleasing is the LORD GOD WHO SAVED US FROM OUR SIN. Because of that, we go out in boldness to show others how to receive Christ’s love. I used to be a lesbian. By God’s grace, I was saved from that SINFUL LIFE! I still love and treat my homosexual friends with compassion, but they are very aware of my standing. My goal is to show them the error of their way and God willing lead them to repentance! Not to ACCEPT them for who they are. Tolerate, yes, Accept, no. If Jesus accepted me the way I was I would be going to hell! Thank God he loved me enough to reveal my sin to me. The reason Christians are standing up and some not so nicely, I agree, is because they envision down the road how homosexuality acceptence in America is going to change life for the next generation. You were right, its what they do, not who they are, but unfortunately, their identity is in their sexuality. I lived it, I know. Hence that is why they are fighting for it. Our identity is in Christ and so we need to fight back and it can be done in love. That would be a real testimony. To do it without name calling, to do it with understanding, to show them that we have a strong belief too, that we are willing to stand up for. You picked a topic to discuss that God has already been stirring MASSIVELY in my heart. I knew God was going to use me one day because of my past; He is seriously tugging at my heart. I am sorry I come at you with a different perspective, but I speak from experience:)

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    1. You make a good point. The character in the story is not the Son of God (nor am I, if I ever did this). Jesus did focus on repentance, and not just “I’m ok, you’re ok, do what you want.” I tried to be careful about how I would have the character speak, and you’ll note that he never simply comes out and says, “Sin doesn’t matter.” But what I have seen from many of my fellow Christians is that it seems sin is the only thing that matters to them. It seems this one visible sin in others far outweighs any other sin in their eyes. When was the last time you saw people protesting arrogance, quoting “God hates the proud?” Or dishonesty? “God despises a lying tongue.” And the fact is more people in Western civilization are aware of what Christians are supposedly against than what we’re for. We have a message problem: only one part of the message is getting out so far, and it’s my experience that no one really cares to hear me talk about “this or that is a sin” because 1) they already know that’s what the Bible teaches and 2) they don’t care what I have to say on the matter until I show them that I care about them where they’re at. Boldness is a double-edged sword; the boldness that may convict and draw a wayward soul to Christ (like my own) can at the same time offend and push a wayward soul farther away. No one approach is perfect for every person in every situation. Jude 22-23 says “have mercy on some who are doubting, save others as if snatching them from the fire, and on others, have mercy with fear” or what seems to me to be a healthy respect for the destructive power and influence of sin. We must share truth, yes, but we must do it with love, or it’s a pointless venture.

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    2. I am thankful for your testimony, Itdoesn’tmatter, but I have to ask this question: When someone rejects Christianity, does Jesus want us to just turn our back on them?
      That is not my understanding of New Testament Scripture. That’s a very poor “agenda” to have when dealing with people who hate Christians and Christianity.

      We are supposed to *demonstrate* the love of Christ. However, the only demonstrations I often see are these kinds of demonstrations, with hurtful, ugly picket signs, and hateful words spewed out of the mouths of those who claim to love others as they love themselves.

      To sincerely demonstrate love, that means letting people live the way they choose, even though our understanding is that there is a better way. We all have been given free choice. We can’t only love the people who listen to us and stop doing what we tell them is wrong according to the Bible.
      And, contrary to some Christian’s misconceptions, loving our neighbor does not mean telling them everything they are doing wrong and turning our backs on them when they don’t change. The only people we are told to turn our backs on are those who are Christians like mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people…” like those who commit adultery. Sadly, I see Christians pointing their fingers at those who are not Christians, but I don’t see Christians turning their backs on the unrepentant Christian.

      Being not of the world doesn’t mean we stop interacting with people who choose not to accept our Lord and Savior as their own.People who don’t know, or don’t want to know Jesus, are going to live the way they are going to live, until they see a reason to change. Us shouting things at them, carrying colorful, witty, sarcastic, and down right insultingly mean signs, isn’t going to show them anything they see worth changing for. Who wants to become that kind of person??

      God didn’t tell us that He so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son and whoseover controlleth the behavior of everyone else gets the best rewards in Heaven…. But, that is sure the way we Christians act.

      Jesus never made or held up a picket sign.

      The very best advice I have ever heard is from a quote:
      “Preach the gospel always, If necessary use words.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi.
      Be quick to listen and slow to speak, we are advised in in the book of James.
      When was the last time we really listened, sincerely, openly, agenda-less, to someone who is not a Christian? We always have Roman’s Road bouncing around in our head, or some Scripture to counteract something we see as them being wrong about.

      In order for us to gain the privilege of speaking into someone’s life, we must first gain their respect. To gain respect, we must be respectful of their right to live their life the way they choose to.

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      1. I also want to add: I used the words “choice” and “choose”, because for myself that way of life would be a choice. Many people believe it’s not a choice for them. I’m not in their shoes, I don’t understand things from their perspective. It’s not my place, as a Christian in their life, to tell them my opinion is right and what they know for themselves is wrong. My place in their life is to listen and appreciate them for who they are beyond our differences, and I hope they feel the same towards me.

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