Why Have a Parade? (A Positive Reflection on Pride Month)

July 05, 2023
Bryan County News Article
By the Rev. Dr. Devin Strong
June 19, 2023
Recently, I saw a picture of a billboard that read, "How come veterans only get one day and child molesters get a whole month?" it took me a moment to realize that this was a hateful and misguided reference to the LBGTQ community and Pride Month.
I am proud of soldiers and police officers who risk their lives for the sake of others. I am proud of teachers and nurses who use their talents to go above and beyond anything that can be reasonably expected of them. I am proud of sanitation workers and servers who work hard and get by on far too little money. I am proud of dads and moms who love their children in tangible ways. I am proud of everyone who does an honest day's work and does their best to care for their neighbors.
And I am proud of my son, Oliver, who happens to be transgender.
I know that some will be upset to read this; others will question my Christian faith. I understand some of this discomfort. I was born a male, and I have always been attracted to members of the opposite sex. On a visceral level, I cannot relate to feeling like you are in the wrong body or being romantically attracted to members of the same sex. For Christians, I also realize that there are a handful of verses in the Bible that we need to wrestle with when it comes to same-sex activity, though I do not believe that the Bible condemns same-sex activity between consenting adults as we understand it today, but that as a conversation for another day.
The bottom line is that wherever there is love, respect, and mutuality, the God that I worship rejoices.
Lesbian, gay and transgender people have always been with us, but for most of human history, they have lived their lives in the shadows, not unlike disabled people of earlier generations. It is only recently that these frightened people have had the courage and some societal permission to live their lives in the open. 
I see that it is uncomfortable for some heterosexual cis-gender folks to realize that there are significant differences between us, but most gay and transgender folks that I know just want to be happy and live their lives without obstacles, just like everybody else. They have no interest in "converting" others, as if such a thing was even possible.
What I have learned is that for the small percentage of us who are transgender, their brains function like those of the gender that they identify with rather than the gender that they were assigned at birth. With current medical technology, it is impossible to get a brain transplant, so what is a transgender person supposed to do, except begin living in a body that matches their mental, emotional, and spiritual understanding of themselves? Several years ago, my son began this transition, and he is so much happier and at peace with himself. I have to believe that God is also happy with him and for him.
Some people reading this may follow me to this point and have compassion but still struggle with why LBGTQ folks have to "flaunt" their identities with rainbows and parades. To understand this, I think we need to walk in their shoes. So many in this community have spent their lives feeling outcast, judged, and even suicidal that it is a breath of fresh air to realize that just maybe they are acceptable as they are. Can you think of a better reason for having a parade?!
People reading this will either agree with me or disagree with me, think more of me or less of me for having written it, and that is okay. For myself, I stand for love all ways, and I am a proud ally of anyone and everyone who lives their life with generosity and service to others.
God Loves You, and So Do I!
Pastor Devin Strong