Tag Archives: LGBT

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Why I March in PRIDE–A Pastor’s Perspective

“Hope will never be silent.”

Harvey Milk

Over my twenty-five year ministry at Riverside, I have marched in at least a dozen PRIDE parades. I cannot march today but tomorrow I will be preaching on the topic, PROUD. I hope you will join us in worship.  What follows is a post I wrote last year.  Happy PRIDE, everyone. ~PSTR

 I have been marching in the PRIDE parade for a while now, since the mid or late 90s. I cannot remember the first march but I do recall that it wasn’t that big. Now the Washington DC Capitol PRIDE march is gigantic.  I don’t march because I’m Gay, I march because justice matters and human rights matter and sexual orientation should not be condemned any more than left-handed freckled people should be condemned.

I march in PRIDE because the Church has not only been silent through the centuries but it has been complicit in the deaths, torture and slow annihilation of GLBT human beings.  I march for the same reason I go to the Holocaust Museum each April and read names during the Days of Remembrance:  because Christians have some great atoning work to do for the sins they’ve committed in the name of the Savior.

Over two decades as a pastor, I’ve talked in my office to persons bearing the crushing weight of their family’s hatred; written letters and emails of support to individuals who desperately longed to serve God in a church that would authentically welcome them; I have buried persons abandoned by their families. I prayed at the Capitol with a colleague when Matthew Shepard was murdered…  I march because these scars do not go away any more than the scars were erased from the crucified Christ.  I march in PRIDE simply to humbly say, “I hear you.”  Not, “I know your pain,”  because I do not.  I can only imagine it. But I hear you and I’m willing to stand by you on a day when you declare to the world that you are not only out but you are, like Walt Whitman, willing to sing a song to yourself, love yourself and celebrate your humanity.

I also march for hope and joy.  I fondly remember when a group of us attended a showing of the film, MILK.  What an exciting moment to be together!  I have performed more “gay marriages” than straight marriages in the last three years.  I do not see LGBT persons threatening the institution of marriage but they are saving it by taking monogamous, loyal love seriously.  I have blessed children adopted by gay couples.  How joyful!  On this Saturday, I’ll be marching in another PRIDE parade. I am proud of you, GLBT brothers and sisters.  I hope for you, pray for you, advocate for and admire you.  I am fortunate to pastor a church that is inclusive.  Maybe some Sunday, you’ll walk into a worship service with us.  We won’t single you out as LGBT. We will simply embrace you as fully human and like all persons, as someone who bears the Image of God.

For the haters, the Christian homophobic self-righteous and those who insist on demonizing others who are different, I adjure you to repent.  Turn around from that hatred.  It only leads to hell.  To the scholars, the scribes who find a way to leverage the bible against the love of Christ, I adjure you, cease from this inhumane scholarship.   These, alas,  will pass away.  But faith, hope and love will abide.      And PRIDE.  ~See you Sunday

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Orlando: We Mourn With Our GLBT Brothers and Sisters

120px-Gay_memory_flag.svg  Pastor Bledsoe’s pastoral prayer and remarks from Sunday, June 12th:   

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It’s okay not to have the words to speak your grief.  This grief will take a very long time to pour out of our lives in torrents of tears; to trickle out in beads of sweat; to bleed from us in what has been too bloody a wicked act already.

There is plenty of blame to pin on any number of persons from politicians to preachers to radio talk show hosts and the contemptible NRA and its brood of coward politicians.  For now, until we have prayed our goodbyes and pondered what we have lost by these who have been slain, we need not assign blame. But a Day of Reckoning is coming for those who insist on fanning flames of hatred and then legislate access to assault rifles, guns and ammunition so that millions of  Americans are turned into potential lone wolf terrorists.

It’s okay to be angry.  Our anger is our wound, turned inside out. But today, this week, let us pray for these families who bear the terrible burden of loss. We will touch our wounds and weep with those who weep.

Our hearts especially break for the GLBT communities across our country and particularly in Orlando.  Saturday I had the joy of participating in the Capital PRIDE march.  Last week, I blogged about why I, a pastor, march but I did not think to include the reason that a madman, fueled by religious hatred, would gun down scores of innocents.  After an ecstatic Saturday of marching in solidarity, I awakened on Sunday to this grievous news. Dearest GLBT individuals:  we stand with you and express our profoundest sympathy as you were viciously attacked simply for being who you are.  Beautiful.  Wonderfully human. Children of God.

We will not abandon you in this time but pray for you and say again, we at Riverside are a refuge of peace for all and will not accept any religion—Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, ANY—that refuses to accept you for the gift you are.  It is incumbent upon each religion and its practitioners and spokespersons to critically engage their religious teachings and stop persecuting Gay human beings.

We in the United States are living in a country that is terrorized by its own inhabitants. We are and have been perpetually at war now for more than fifteen years.  We are polluted by violence.

We pray in the words of the ancient Church:

Lord, have mercy.  Christ, have mercy.

~See you Sunday:: Pastor Bledsoe