Peace through Pride.
This is the theme for our Pride Festival and Parade in Oklahoma City this year. I have heard that many people are not excited about this theme and I saw an article in the paper the other day where a person asked, “What does gay and lesbian pride have to do with peace and whose idea was that?!”
Well, I believe gay and lesbian pride has a lot to do with peace and the truth of the matter is that this theme of peace was chosen while the United States waged war against Iraq for the second time in twelve years. I’m sure at that time everyone felt the theme was appropriate and now it seems that since the war was waged and quickly won, we now need to move on to other things besides peace. After all, aren’t we all experiencing peace since the war has ended?
Well, are we? Really? I wish this was true but from where I stand and from where I minister in Oklahoma City, it doesn’t look to me like everyone is experiencing peace in their bodies and souls, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. As we prepare for this parade and festival, I find that people’s anxieties are sky high. Teachers are even more afraid to come out for fear of losing their jobs. Parents are even more afraid to come out for fear of losing their children. Grandparents, in order to stay in relationship with their grandchildren, introduce their life partners as “roommates.” Peace and pride are exactly what we need to be talking about right now because they are the two things missing from people’s lives.
I believe the substance of peace is much more than the absence of war. For queer people, I believe substantive peace comes through pride. They are interrelated. All humans, when treated with dignity and respect, are able to feel pride in themselves. When people are not afforded this right, often what ensues are years of internal struggle and conflict about self-worth and shame.
Queer people know more about war than we care to admit sometimes. We have waged war against our bodies, our desires, our hearts, and our very souls for a long time. When we are able to allow the Spirit of God to transform these war-like actions into pride, we become people who experience internal peace. This internal peace leads to living as fully, authentic people in this world who can then speak about what it means to know and experience peace.
The article I read that questioned the theme of “peace through pride” said, “Gay and Lesbian Pride may not be able to bring peace to the world.”
To that I say, “Who better to bring peace to the world?”
Let it be so. Amen.
Rev. Tessie Mandeville is the pastor at Cathedral of Hope Oklahoma City.