Some people ask if PRIDE events are still needed. Their argument is based upon the idea that the goal is to “fit in” and PRIDE events bring special attention and hinders the mainstream normalization of being LGBT.

My response is that there is nothing normal about being LGBT, as it is a special gift God chose to give to me and I celebrate it every day.  My “goal” is not to fit in but to embrace and feel special and celebrate who God created me to be. Celebrating my gift from God is my interpretation of normality. Being a gay man is a very special gift from God and God believes in me and our community that together we can transform the world and teach it that diversity is sacred.

It makes me sad that people have and still today use the Christian scriptures to justify persecution of LGBT people. If one looks at the example of Jesus, he embraced people of all faiths, cultures, sexes, genders and had a special connection with the oppressed. God chose God’s son to bring to humanity the gift of love not persecution. As Christians, Jesus is the foundation, the cornerstone of our faith and it isn’t just a “suggestion” for us to be Christ-like, which is an invitation to experience the kingdom of God even today, not a reservation for the future.

Being gay comes with responsibility. This weekend we will gather together, people of all sexual orientations and there are multiple celebrations from parades to beach parties. It will indeed be a special time. In this weekend’s celebration, even the city of Fort Lauderdale is hosting a PRIDE parade which I haven’t seen in the last 20 years of being acquainted with South Florida. This reflects that indeed times are changing and even though we celebrate this weekend we must remember that the fight for freedom still exists.

Lawmakers in Tennessee have introduced a bill called the Natural Marriage Defense Act in the state legislature to make same-gender marriage illegal even though it would have the effect of the state losing over $9 billion in federal funding. That’s a lot of prejudice and hate even over their love of money!

In the state of Kansas, introduced by seven Republican lawmakers, the Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act, recently presented, refers to the LGBTQ community as a “denominational sect that is inseparably part of the religion of secular humanism” and seeks to ban same-sex marriage.  I am concerned that the ultimate goal here is to have these “un-natural” acts of prejudice and hate eventually reach the new United States Supreme Court.

Prejudice, judgment, control and oppression are evil and the opposite of “natural” acts and normality according to the Christian scriptures that I study and believe.  Jesus’ “lifestyle” was one of love. The world has been offered the same “lifestyle” to choose, which is love over hate. Jesus taught us the example that love for one another and our neighbor is also more than a mere “suggestion,” it’s a commandment we Christians are to follow. 

As we celebrate this weekend’s events and the numerous PRIDE events throughout the year, LOVE is the path I will follow.  Happy PRIDE!

by Rev. Patrick Rogers

United Church of Christ Fort Lauderdale

Senior Pastor