I recognize that Pride was last month, but I needed to process some of my reactions to the whole idea. So here goes.
First, I need to make a quick rant about the flag. Okay. A rainbow? Seriously?? As a graphic designer, I just have to comment on the branding nightmare that it’s caused for the gay community. I can count on one hand the logos or graphic representations that I’ve seen utilizing a rainbow that were actually good from a design standpoint. More often than not, we just end up with super tacky branding and poorly coordinated graphics. Its like trying to take a font like Comic Sans or Papyrus and incorporate it into your branding standards while still attempting to look professional. Talk about a creative challenge! Check out One Wheaton‘s logo for an example of a successful execution of a logo using the rainbow. Alrighty, on to the nitty grit of what’s going through my head.
Is being gay really something to be proud about?
Help me out here. Sure, I’ve finally reached a place where I’m not ashamed of my orientation, but that certainly doesn’t mean I’m proud of it by any means… not to the extent that much of the community seems to endorse. While I may be okay with being ‘gay’, I’m certainly not proud of the culture that said term seems to automatically imply. Where is the gained value in flaunting your sexuality in an obscene way that would be offensive regardless of the orientation attached.
There was a time when gay people scared the crap out of me. All I knew of Gay-dom was what I’d glimpsed through media and the Church’s references. The arrogance, the flaunting, the skin, the bright colors, the liberalism, the open sexuality – all created a rather terrifying picture to my conservative, home-schooled, sheltered brain. What horrified me even more was the fear that the growing homosexual feelings and thoughts within me might indicate that I was one of ‘them’… that I had no real choice in the matter. I feared that if I admitted to myself and/or anyone else that I was gay, I would be dragged kicking and screaming into a gaudy rainbow colored orgy pit overflowing with masquera wearing, shirtless men shaking defiant glittery fists at their Creator and Christians in general. If that was Gay, then I most certainly was NOT!!
Its no surprise that I had and still have tons of prejudice and homophobia to work through on a personal level. Why should I be surprised when the church who definitely doesn’t have the insider view that I have, fights so vehemently against all things ‘gay.’ The Ex-gay circles where I first encountered gay fellowship only affirmed this image – describing in gory detail the ‘gay lifestyles’ that Christ had freed them from.
You will understand why its such a big deal when I say that this year has been transformational in completely changing my perspective on what it means to be gay and what the gay community is about in general. For the first time, I took the time to get down and dirty so to speak. I chose to engage with said community rather than continuing to stand at a distance observing ‘my people’ through lenses colored by media, the conservative christian community, and of course, my ex-gay friends. I’d been wanting to sing again and the local gay choir was holding auditions. After my initial shock of going from 5 gay/ex-gay friends to 150 out and proud choir friends, I quickly came to know the ‘them’ on a more personal level. As expected, I got to know flamers, bears, divas, sex addicts, New Agers, and ex-Christians. But, I also met pastors, worship leaders, missionary kids, journalists, rugby players, professors, and lawyers. Along with the bar hopping one-nighters, I also encountered men who’d been faithful to the same partner for 25 years. It quickly became apparent that I’d severely misjudged gay people as a whole.
While I may not stand behind a lot of what comes attached to the word ‘Gay’ and ‘Gay Pride’, I’m all for creating public awareness of civil injustice against a minority and promoting civil equality. On a personal level, I sympathize most strongly with Andrew Marin‘s sentiment “to build bridges between the LGBT community and the Church through biblical and social education, scientific research and diverse community gatherings.” I think its important that as Christians we take a stand for equality, understanding what its like to have been persecuted, discriminated against, and exiled for our beliefs. If you have some time on your hands, check out Misty Iron’s somewhat lengthy but thorough conservative Christian case for civil same sex marriage.
“Christians over the centuries, including this generation of older evangelicals, have been perversely shaped in their thinking by surrounding society. St. Augustine said dreadful things about sexuality, and Luther penned terrible comments about Jews. In my lifetime, too many older Christians were blatantly racist and homophobic. They largely ignored the hundreds of biblical texts about God’s amazing concern for justice for the poor and marginalized.”
- Joel Wentz, Relevant Magazine
Indeed, it is for this reason that I feel it is important that I stand by my decision to be ‘out’ in my immediate community. To borrow the words of my choir friend Josh, former Vice President of Pride Kansas City, unless people have a personal experience with someone they love and respect who is gay, why would they have any reason to question their spoon-fed bias against persons of homosexual orientation and expression. “But David, I don’t think of you as gay at all,” a good friend responded to my coming out to her. But that’s exactly what I hope people will glimpse… being gay, sure, can be a wild cultural aberration from scripture (as can heterosexuality), but it is by no means a defining attribute. I can be ‘normal’ (whatever that is) and love God and yet still be gay… and perhaps even one day learn what it means to express that within the confines of monogamy, partnership, and hopefully marriage.
So let me ask again. Am I proud to be gay? Perhaps, but only as a small part of something much larger. Rather, I’m proud to be! I’m proud that I’m a unique beautiful loved creation that was on God’s mind before the creation of the stars. I’m proud that by existing, I can ascribe and point glory and praise back to my Creator. So, yes. I guess on some level, I am proud.