The atmosphere at this year’s PRIDE parade in Seattle was decidedly celebratory, with a generous dose of relief.
After all, since last year’s parade, our state passed R-74, which allows same sex couples in Washington to marry.
In addition, the week before the parade saw the historic Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and recognize the marriages of same sex couples at the federal level — allowing benefits for same sex couples that heterosexual couples have enjoyed for decades.
Gay or LGBT pride events originated to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in New York in June 1969. Each year, near the end of June, parades and festivities occur around the country to counter discrimination and violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
In a move that shows how much support for equality is growing in our region, the Seattle Mariners made history by becoming the first professional baseball team to fly a rainbow gay pride flag at Safeco Field on June 30.
In Seattle, there also is a movement under way for a separate Trans Pride event to distinguish the differences between sexual orientation (lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight, etc.) and gender identity (male, female, transgender, two-spirit, etc.).
I marched in the Pride Parade this year as part of a delegation from local United Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and Metropolitan Community Churches. We were one of many religious delegations in the parade. Our float had two members of our Federal Way church sitting on it beneath a sign that read: “Together 39 Years: Married 6 Months.”
If you missed the festivities in Seattle, you can still take advantage of the Tacoma Pride Festival. Though there’s no parade, the week of July 12 is full of festivities, including Pride Foundation Rainbow Awards, an “Out with God” Worship Service, and Out in the Park — a family friendly community event with booths, food and fun.
Sadly, if you’re LGBT in Federal Way, chances are things aren’t as festive for you. I’ve only found two churches in our city, and only one of them Christian, that will perform your wedding should you want to be married.
If you’re in high school, you’re likely to be teased, harassed and even bullied. Heck, you don’t even have to be LGBT. The perception of you being "not straight" is enough for that to happen. You probably still hear “That’s so gay!” on a regular basis.
If you’re LGBT and go to a church here in town, you may be accepted, rejected, ejected, or loved “in spite” of who you are. Sigh. In spite of recent gains, we still have a long way to go on this journey.
I hope you’ll stand with me, and with each other, and stand up for equality, justice and dignity. I hope you’ll find people who adore you and know you are worthy because you exist, and that it’s not dependent on who you love.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get invited to a wedding and get to witness the joy of people who have loved each other deeply, and for a long time, as they say “I do” to each other.
And if you’re really lucky, you’ll say “Amen,” take a breath, and continue working toward liberty and justice for all.