Pride festivals—held in many towns and cities across the country—are a fantastic way to reach out to LGBTQ people and our allies and let people know about your inclusive stance. It is also an important witness that people of faith can be accepting and supportive of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Your presence can help counteract negative stereotypes about religious people and offer hope to those who want to connect with a spiritual community but thought that there were no options for them. Your witness is especially important if there are anti-LGBTQ protesters who preach condemnation or hatred in the name of God.
Many Pride celebrations are held in June, in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots in June 1969 in New York City. However, dates vary across the country to accommodate issues like heat, local events, the availability of space etc. so check with your local organizers. If you haven’t already started planning for this year, its time to get started. If you live in a place that does not have a Pride celebration, look for one in a larger town or city near you and support that. LGBTQ people and their allies from your area will be doing the same thing; make it easy for them to find you so you can continue the connection closer to home.
Some ways you can participate in Pride are:
- Host, sponsor, or participate in a special worship service that honors and celebrates the diversity of creation, including the beauty of gender and sexuality in their many forms. Check to see if other communities are sponsoring a worship service and join with them; if not, start your own! This is a great opportunity to include people of many faiths; check with your local interfaith group to see if there are people interested in joining you. You can also include Pride as a theme in your regular worship services.
- Decorate your space with rainbow banners or gay and trans pride flags. This is especially important if your building is along or near the parade route or festival grounds, but it can have a big impact wherever you are.
- March in Pride making it clear you are people of faith—you can carry banners from your community, wear matching t-shirts, or having a faith themed float. Let people know you are there and that you are on their side.
- Table at Pride so that people can pick up materials about your community and ask you questions. You might want to have some giveaways, like water or sunscreen, to draw people to your table and show that your community is one that gives to others.
- Volunteer at Pride—encourage your members and friends to volunteer and consider wearing t-shirts with the name or logo of your group
- Make a donation or become a sponsor of Pride: your financial contributions can make a big difference in supporting the event for everyone.