In one of the three post-concussion Gay Catholic Whatnot interviews I’ve done so far, my interlocutor asked me, “So what do you think about… pride?”
Me, probably getting a little bit too much Jeeves in the face: “Pride, the mortal sin? Or Pride, the thing where they throw beads?”
But no, it’s in fact a great question, because it implies an underlying question of what a Christian model of gay (and I think also women’s) lib would look like. Pride, the thing where they throw beads, is something I have deeply mixed opinions about. I don’t think the word choice is really a coincidence. Pride is envisioned as the opposite of shame–but is it the only opposite? Pride, and urban Pride parades in particular, often combine community solidarity (yes, this I love and need) with celebration of gay entrance into the halls of power.
Pride with its Absolut ads and political candidates offers a vision of gay normalcy and gay empowerment, and I don’t think those are frameworks for Christian communal action. I do basically think our churches should be there, in a spirit of welcome and reconciliation. I think orthodox Christians should be at Pride to apologize for the harms our churches have done LGBT people. We should be there as an invitation to return to your heart’s home, in Christ–an invitation to ask whether you can deepen your relationship with the God Who loves you. We should be there to hold out the possibility that you can be open about your sexual orientation and orthodox in your sexual discipline. And we should be there because, you know, we also are part of the lgbt/queer community. Queerer than most! Some would say, unnecessarily queer, but I say, still not queer enough!
Anyway, my dull point is that Christians should be at Pride but maybe we can also offer a framework for political action and community formation that goes beyond Pride. What if our goal as a community were not empowerment but peacemaking? Not increased choice, but honored surrender?What if we genuinely offered humility as an opponent of and medicine for shame?
(Side note: I’ve read various attempts to rescue the concept of shame and I remain super unpersuaded–this is still my position–but if you disagree with me on that, groovy, just accept for now that “shame” here means something like, “the belief that one is unusually or even uniquely degraded and worthless, set apart from human community and especially from membership in the Body of Christ–that your unworthiness is not shared by the whole church, but isolates you from it.” Shame is the thing that makes you terrified of being fully known by yourself, God, and your loved ones.)
I don’t have answers to these questions. I’ve asked them in less-pointed forms before but I think the framing in this post does some interesting stuff to challenge both our churches and lgbt communities. I guess I will close by asking if any of you all have participated in lgbt/feminist movement work that did strike you as peacemaking rather than striving for empowerment. What does that look like on the ground? How would you assess it now?