Reasons to Be Proud
It's been a month of flags, parades, tables, new opportunities, and new allies. It is pride month, the month we remember the past, dream of the future and revel in what we have now.
And what we have now, here in Virginia is a lot. This year People of Faith was out at the Hampton Roads/Norfolk Pride, we put on a prayer service in Northern Virginia, and tabled at Capitol Pride in DC, and at all these events we were blessed. We were blessed by the number of proud Virginians. We all know that there are LGBT people everywhere in Virginia, in every county, community and workplace--even the Federal Reserve Bank--but this year I was touched especially by the number of churches, synagogues, and faith communities that came out in support of our families and our humanity.
This year I saw not just the usual suspects of Unitarian Universalists, or Metropolitan Community Churches, or even Episcopal, UCC, Reform Jewish Congregations, or Presbyterians. This year I was touched by the words of a Baptist Minister when she spoke at the Pride Prayer Service and I was heartened by a quiet conversation with two Mormons, amidst the bustle of the Pride Festival. This year we had a half dozen faith groups in the Norfolk area showing their pride, and more than twice that in the DC area.
During the Pride Prayer Service in NoVa(pictured left, more pictures here), we allotted time for people to speak to others sitting around them and share a bit of their stories. From person after person I heard how they had left their faith tradition, or been driven from it, by the condemnation or even the silence of their congregations. But amidst those saddening testimonials, I see that significant change has already begun.
We made a great number of connections these past couple of weeks, as as the number of supportive and inclusive congregations grows and becomes more vocal I encourage all of you, to let your voices be counted. Please go to our website and take part in our Welcoming Congregations Survey.
This year amidst the tragic tales of people leaving their faith communities, I was inspired by the Baptists, Mormons, and Orthodox Jews who had refused to let the close-mindedness of some in their tradition drive them from their spiritual home.
I leave you with this conviction and this hope. Stay in your pews, stay in your congregations, stay in your state. For we are making a difference, our pride is showing through and each year it gets better. Sometimes it's hard to see, sometimes it is great big rainbow flags flying from government buildings, sometimes it is just a person of faith refusing to be moved. Take pride in that and take pride in the state that gave us Jefferson, who first declared we are all created equal, or Madison, who protected church from state, or Wilson, who believed that committed people coming together can change the world, or a simple couple called the Lovings who refused to move. Be proud of Virginia, and be proud of your Faith do not let yourself be driven off and I guarantee next year we will have even more to be proud of.
~ Cameron Hunt, Program Director of POFEV
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