MIN Pride Service Homily

This is from the Montana Interfaith Network’s Pride worship service this morning.

Pride is a weird word for me. As a priest in the Christian tradition, pride is the name of the sin that CS Lewis calls “the original sin… the complete anti-God state of mind.” As a therapist, I know the word pride to be the word that best expresses self-acceptance and self-respect. As a gay man, Pride is the word that says there is nothing wrong with my sexuality, gender expression, or how I see the world.

I think there’s some truth in all definitions.

Within the Judaeo-Christian tradition, pride is deeply attached to the concept of Original Sin. Remember the story of Adam and Eve eating from the fruit of the tree because it would make them like God? That, in my opinion, is the teller’s way of saying that it is an unfortunate part of human nature that would seek power over compassion, power over reality. In short, it means I want to throw the Creator on the bonfire of history, I want to be the most powerful being in the world, I don’t care about other human beings. It is me, me, me. And that is repulsive to us in the Judaeo-Christian world- especially as it relates to reality. Ideally, Christians and Jews realize that all people need compassion. All people need to be welcomed and cared for and loved. Ideally- it is far from the facts of genocide, racial prejudice and prejudice against LGBTQ persons. It’s happening because people are more interested in power than in each other.

AS a therapist, I believe that part of my job is to help my patients see their inherent worth and value in the human family. Believing that I am worthy of respect, consideration and compassion and love is not a sinful way of being- it’s in so many of our traditions. All religious traditions have tenets promoting the dignity of every human being. The problem is, they’ve forsaken those traditions for having power. “I’m better than you” is the message of the early Christian missionaries to the Native Americans. “I’m better than you” is the message of too many religious communities to marginalized and misunderstood people. “I’m better than you” falsely inflates the rhetoric that there are a limited number of ways that human beings can glorify their Creator. “I’m better than you” makes it ok to abuse, dehumanize and even kill. That is not the way of the God I know. It is not the way of the God Jesus knew. In fact, it flies in the face of everything Christian.

Do you remember 1 Corinthinas 13? It’s read at almost every wedding in the universe- it was read at my own wedding. It is that important. Let me refresh your memory.

 

 “If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast,[a] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10 but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

Paul is saying that anything without love is BS.

Paul is saying that Love is the most important thing of all.

Which is what Jesus said.

So if you believe in love, you will not believe when people tell you that you are less than, that you’re not good enough, that you’re deviants, that you’re an abomination ( a word that doesn’t exist in Hebrew, btw) that God HATES YOU- which, if you think about it, is ridiculous and impossible- if you believe it, you’re not living the life that God calls us to be.

We are called to be love. I remind myself of this by reading the passage this way:

I am patient, I am kind, I am not envious or boastful or rude. I do not insist on my own way, nor am I irritable or resentful. I do not rejoice in wrongdoing, I rejoice in the truth. I bear what I am given, I believe what is reasonable, I rejoice in the truth. I love.

And that is what makes us human. It is what makes us real to those who hate us. It is the only way forward.

Love rejoices in the truth.

And the truth is this: we are wonderfully and purposefully made-

to show the world how to love.

And God knows we’ve had to try to love a lot of very difficult people.

Teaser Video From Montana Pride 2012

Do you see yourself?

Double Anniversary

This photograph appeared in the front page of ...

This photograph appeared in the front page of The New York Daily News on Sunday, June 29, 1969, showing the “street kids” who were the first to fight with the police. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots which began on June 28, 1969. It was a watershed moment for LGBT persons- when a few people at the Stonewall Inn in New York City decided they weren’t going to be pushed around anymore by a bullying city police force.

It was the beginning of the modern day gay rights movement. A movement which, I believe, has culminated in more progress in the last three years under the Obama Administration than it has in the last forty. Marriage equality, civil unions and domestic partnerships in some states and sovereign nations; partners’ rights upheld; local non-discrimination ordinances; repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell; passing of the Shepard/Byrd Hate Crimes Act; enormous Pride celebrations all over the land…. Much of the credit goes to activists all across the country whose tireless efforts against second-class citizenship have been rewarded by a population who now often sees discrimination against LGBT persons as archaic, draconian and just plain mean. The 5,000 people participating in Montana Pride 2012 among them.

We have a lot to be proud of, but this is no moment to rest on our laurels. The Montana Republicans may have removed the homosexual criminalization plank from their platform, but it was hardly touted as a move for equality:

According to state Rep. Keith Regier, who chaired the party’s crime committee at its convention last weekend that ultimately voted to remove the line, people were having a tough time getting the nuances of the law and subsequent court cases.

While the court’s decision in 1997 “addressed homosexuality between consenting adults,” Regier said in an e-mail, “it is still illegal with concern to solicitation, children, etc.”

“There has been confusion with this issue,” he said. “I felt the committee wanted to just remove the homosexual reference because of the confusion it caused as it was worded.”

But he added that “Removal of the reference to homosexual behavior does not mean Republicans condone that behavior.”

Like I said- not concerned with equality at all. Don’t get me wrong: I’m delighted it’s gone- but Montana Republicans have a long way to go to prove that they stand for equality- chief among them is taking the obsolete sodomy law of the books during the next legislative session. Oh, and not making homophobic ignorant remarks during testimony.

Sigh.

Oh, and the double anniversary? Today is the 21st anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Ironic, huh?

My Speech: Pride Rally 2012

From Yesterday’s Pride Rally: 

Last week someone said to me “Why do you people need a parade? Why do you have to make such a fuss?”

Here’s why:

We have been afraid to be who God created us to be. Sometimes it was our churches that made us afraid.

We have been legislated against- made criminals in the eyes of the law that is supposed to protect us.

We have been killed and we have killed ourselves.

We have lost good men and women to HIV/AIDS.

We have been bullied and teased and yes, driven from our very homes and schools and communities- and state.

We have been hurt and maligned right here under this big sky.

 

Why do we need a parade?

 

To remind us that there are people whose bravery has driven away darkness. Whose voices refuse to give in to hopelessness or complacency or fear.

That together, we can be that voice.

 

A voice to proclaim the goodness of our lives and the lives of our brothers, sisters, parents, children and friends- we are here and like it or not- we are not going away.

 

We will not forget the lives that have lived with pain to bring us here- to this place of hope and triumph.

 

Today is a gorgeous day in Montana History, because the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Transgender, Intersex and Queer people of Montana- and our allies- are here to proclaim that we will not let our voice die.

 

We will not be afraid.

 

We will stand up when we are told to lie down.

We will speak when anyone tries to shame us into silence.

We will remain when we are told to leave.

We will proclaim the truth.

 

Firmly and gently and clearly and proudly.

The truth that we are light.

And that light makes Montana more beautiful, not less.  More.

 

I want to hear your voice.

Are We Good?

Are We Beautiful?

Are We Going Away?

 

We live in hope that one day all Americans agree.

Until then- we have a parade.

Because we.

Are not.

Going.

Away.

It’s Here! Montana Pride 2012 Starts Today!

And it’s gonna to be fantastic!

Click for schedule!

You can pick up tickets at the MSU SUB starting at 1pm today. Then check out the resource booths, hang out in the SUB with friends, take advantage of free HIV testing, grab some condoms donated by ONE® condoms, go downtown and support the businesses with rainbow flags, hit the Bears and Brews at the Bar IX and come back to the Ballrooms at 7pm for “The Made In Montana Drag Show” with DJ Missillaneous, Cloud City Jazz and then our headliner: Jessie and The Toy Boys.

There is also a fabulous after party and dance featuring Ebola Syndrome.

Underage and non-alcoholic activities in the Rec Center, hosted by PFLAG.

Security is provided- and Streamline buses will be running late to accommodate.

Like I said, epic- and this is only Friday!

Baucus Endorses Marriage Equality

Say what you will about Max Baucus- and we have- but this gives me a moment of pride:

Fair is fair: he hasn’t always done what I would have liked (and it might take something much more major to get me over the healthcare debacle) but mad props for being the first elected statewide Montana official to stand for marriage equality. Thanks, Max. Click the link above to follow his Twitter feed.

Now for a Pride Present, I’d like to hear the other statewide elected officials following suit.

Hell, better yet, I want to see them in the parade this Saturday.

They’ve all been invited.

Update: Reader Karl Olson reminded us that “Pretty sure Justice Nelson came first, however, and by several years, and more openly. Nelson proved you could get a statewide vote with an unwavering pro-equality stance. Its history, but still relevant in the current fervor.”

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ONE Singular Sensation…

If you run out of condoms this Pride weekend, you have no excuse.

ONE ® Condoms has provided Montana Pride 2012 with 4,000 “Pride Mix” Condoms:

Watch for the condom buckets!