The arrival of summer means many things to Chicagoans: the opening of the beaches (sunburns), baseball season (Cubs/Sox rivalries), neighborhood festivals (bad cover bands), and the Chicago Pride Parade. Gay pride parades bring many images and ideas to mind, but regardless of what it means to each of us, the Chicago Pride Parade is a significant cultural and political event that drew 850,000 spectators last year.
For several years now The Marin Foundation has participated in the Chicago Pride Parade by having an ‘I’m Sorry Campaign‘. The goal of the campaign is for individuals to come to the parade and show their remorse for the ways that the Church has fallen short of loving the LGBT community in a Christ-like manner. We wear shirts and have banners that say, “I’m Sorry” and spend the parade sharing and talking with parade goers. The goal is to let the LGBT community know that there are Christians who are sorry for causing harm and are committed to making things better.
I participated in the “I’m Sorry Campaign” last year and plan to return this year as well. However, I am not your typical ‘I’m Sorry Campaign’ participant because I identify as LGBT. I am not heterosexual like most of the other ‘I’m Sorry’ participants. As an LGBT individual, why do I go to the Chicago Pride Parade and apologize to other LGBT individuals? What am I sorry about?
I am sorry that I used to laugh at gay jokes and that I used the phrase “That’s so gay” in a derogatory manner. I am sorry that I have participated in gossip about the sexual orientation of people I did not even know. I am sorry that I believed in and perpetuated stereotypes and put people in a box. I am sorry that I joined in when my friends were making fun of LGBT individuals. I am sorry that I still have trouble using correct pronouns with transgender folks.
I am sorry that I once hated myself for being gay and that I tortured myself by keeping it a secret for so long. I am sorry that I have had a hard time forgiving Christians in my life who didn’t understand my sexuality and walked away from our friendship. I am sorry that at times I am still very bitter towards people who judged me and didn’t stand up for me.
I am sorry that hate crimes are still committed in the name of Christ. I am sorry that LGBT youth are still being kicked out of their homes by Christian parents. I am sorry that Christian parents are made to feel like their child’s sexuality is somehow their fault. I am sorry that in many cases pastors and congregations fail to support LGBT individuals, friends, and families in their churches.
And I am committed to changing this. Are you?
I’ll see you there. =)