Reflection by Heather Gee-Thomas
June 2023 | NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Glendale United Methodist Church)
To the person with the bullhorn outside of Nashville Pride yesterday. What did you think you were going to accomplish?
Did you really think that you screaming at thousands of people out to enjoy a day of celebration would in any way move the needle of their faith or interest in religion?
Did you think they would believe you because of the harshness of your voice or that you had some kind of credibility and influence over them because you quoted scripture with force?
Did it not occur to you that what you were doing and how you were going about it was incredibly painful to the many who have been hurt by your version of religion?
If it wasn’t painful, to many of us your words were incredibly arrogant, disrespectful and infuriating.
Does it not occur to you that you and your ilk have “in the name of Christ” falsely persecuted people for being pedophiles, perverts, unnatural and demonic.
Did you really think this approach would accomplish some goal of “turning people to your beliefs?”
It is my observation that your motives were perfectly selfish. Your motivation appeared that you yourself needed to let everyone know that you thought they were going to hell. It wasn’t to love or care for others. It was b/c you believe that you have the power to change people through fear and shame. It was your strong desire to prove to people that you were right and they were wrong. Perhaps you thought God wanted you to do this. Perhaps you thought this would be helpful.
May I suggest that you take a more humble approach.
A. Turn inward, to what you can do to love people better.
B. Listen to their stories, put yourself in their shoes
C. Stop judging
D. Educate yourself on science
E. Stop watching opinion news and seek facts
F. Remember we are all loved and that we are all human
G. Do we all sin? Yes. Do we bullhorn and shame everyone that does? No.
H. By merely being gay, or trans or bi or non binary does not equal bad or wrong or even sin. This is how people identify and who they love. It is one part of their being.
I. Stop mistaking love or identity for sex? If all you see is sex when speaking of the LGBTQIA+ community, then you are the one confused.
J. Perversion and pedophilia are no more prevalent in this community than any other. In fact, this group is so vulnerable to oppression, that it is much less likely that they would prey on anyone.
K. How about instead of trying to divide us for what you do not understand, you try to see us all as being commonly human, amazing, beautiful and flawed. Include yourself.
L. Stop shaming and guilting people. We already do that more than we should. It is not healthy for anyone.
M. Whether or not you like it, it really is none of your business.
N. This country is for everyone. You don’t have to like them or love them. You can even hate them. But in the United States we all have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
O. It is not your job to judge, shame or even try to change people. The creator alone holds that responsibility.
P. Try loving others as you are loved.
Q. Scripture can be interpreted in a million different ways. Try doing your homework and know that the word homosexual was not in the Bible until 1946 and improperly translated.
“What was your purpose” kept rolling through my head? Your approach harmed people who waited all year to spend the weekend at a festival that celebrates them in one of the most difficult legislative years riddled with hate, ignorance and exclusion of human beings.
I am one of the furious ones! I am so sick of divisive, fear based religion. Not trying to pick on any denomination, but for example: This year alone the Southern Baptist Convention has lost roughly 1/2 million members and 436 churches this year alone. The largest loss in membership in 100 years.
How about we work toward, love and compassion, serving the least of these and fighting for justice for all. Like Jesus, love and serve all of creation without condition.
This beautiful compassionate community of humans is not going away. They have always been here and they always will. We will rise up with them, stand with them and fight evil legislation, oppression and bullhorns until it stops.
If you accomplished anything yesterday it was truly to push people further away from organized religion. Sadly, whether your intention or not, you also hurt others on a day when they deserved to be celebrated!
What I wish you had done instead is to join the festival and see for yourself that this group of people is more like you than not. You would have seen the joy of friendship, safety of being around others who didn’t judge, love for one another and more. Every year I go it is one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences I have ever encountered. God is alive and well at Pride. This place felt like home and to many of them a respite from the life outside those gates which is scary, dangerous and judgmental.
Despite your loud disturbance as folks arrived at Pride, love still won and always will!