a reflection by Gavin McCollum
Last weekend, I joined a group 2BC members to help man a 2BC booth at Saline County Pride. This my first experience at a Pride event. For years – even since I have been out of the closet- I have been too timid to attend Pride for various reasons. As a young person in the closet, I was afraid that attending Pride as an “ally” would betray my deepest secret. As someone who was newly out of the closet, I wanted my sexuality to be palatable and not “in your face”. In recent years, I didn’t want to go by myself and I didn’t know whom to ask to go with me. I was also afraid that I wouldn’t fit in as a gay Christian who is also a heavier individual (stereotypical photos of Pride events feature very buff of very skinny, usually white cisgender men who have removed at least their shirts). I was heartened, then, when Pastor Kevin put together a group to organize Second’s presence at both Saline County and Central Arkansas Pride this year.
Some may ask, “Why as Christians should we promote ‘pride’? Doesn’t ‘pride’ goeth before destruction?” It is a common question. And to be sure, as a church, we should steer clear of promoting egotistical self-promotion. Our identity is found in and revealed through the triune God (Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit). However, “Pride” celebrations aren’t about rampant egotism. Pride for the LGBTQIA+ community is about owning identities that have otherwise been derided and mocked through the ages. Pride is about taking up space when we have historically been told to repress and hide our feelings. Pride is about unapologetically being the beings we believe God created us to be in a world that thinks it knows better than the Creator of the Universe.
I only worked our booth at Saline County Pride for about 2.5 hours. But during that time, we had a number of people stop by who were simply amazed that a Baptist church in the South would have a booth at a Pride festival that wasn’t dedicated to “saving lost souls”, but instead to proclaiming that God’s mission is inclusive and affirming. I spoke with at least two people who earnestly- and tearfully- thanked us for being there.
It is right and good that a church- especially one like 2BC- should participate in Pride celebrations. It is a subversive and prophetic action.
I’m looking forward to this coming weekend when we have the opportunity to be subversive and prophetic again. Once again, a group from 2BC will have a booth at and march in the parade during Central Arkansas Pride. I hope that if you have the opportunity to do so, you’ll join us. We won’t be there to pound our chests and say, “Look how good and awesome we are!” We will be there to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ that God so loved the WORLD. And that that loving God created the LGBTQIA+ community exactly as God meant to.