The month of June honors the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York City, which was a tipping point for the gay liberation movement in the United States.

On June 28, 1969, the New York City Police Department raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village. Members of the LGBTQ+ community were beaten and arrested on that fateful evening, inspiring them to resist and call out for justice.

The actions taken by the NYPD led to six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the bar on Christopher Street, in neighboring streets and in nearby Christopher Park.

The Stonewall Uprising served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world. The following year, on the first anniversary of the uprising, the first Pride march was held to remember that day and celebrate their identity as LGBTQ+ persons.

Since that first march in 1970, people have gathered for marches and parades during the month of June. They have become wonderful community events celebrating diversity and acceptance. While many communities have established and held Pride parades, the church has been slower to adopt such festivities.

Therefore, as a Christian minister and fellow human being made in the image of God, I want to once again voice my strong support for my LGBTQ+ family and friends.

God made you perfectly. The church and culture have no authority to condemn your personhood. As part of the clergy, I am honored to stand alongside you as a family member, friend and advocate.

With my support solidified for the LGBTQ+ community, I want to address a question I often get asked.

Many people questioning conservative theology that condemns LGBTQ+ people and their relationships want to know how I drew my conclusion to support LGBTQ+ people against other interpretations of the Bible.

First, the Bible does not condemn LGBTQ people.

In fact, the Bible never mentions homosexuality at all; the word does not even exist in either the Hebrew or Greek texts. The passages used to condemn LGBTQ+ people and their relationships are taken out of their context in order to establish an anti-LGBTQ+ position. Those texts are not dealing with consenting adults, but are condemning individuals utilizing sex as power to dehumanize other people.

The Bible is filled with passages encouraging the followers of Yahweh and Jesus to practice hospitality, inclusion and love. While there is not a  specific mention on a “gay” or “trans” person in Scripture, there are instances when we see the church accepting and affirming people outside the normative parameters, such as the uncircumcised and eunuchs (Acts).

Second, LGBTQ+ rights are human rights.

The government or church should not be in the business of stripping the rights of people based upon an interpretation of the BIble or any other religious text. LGBTQ+ people do not need the government, or houses of faith, telling them who they can love and who they are as a person.

LGBTQ+ people deserve the same rights as all other citizens without the interference of religious zealots using the government as a weapon.

Zanele Muholi, a South African activist and artist, once said, “If I wait for someone else to validate my existence, it will mean that I’m shortchanging myself.”

No person needs the government or church to validate their existence. Only an individual can decide whether their Creator made them perfectly just as they are. LGBTQ+ persons are humans, deserving of all the rights and privileges that come with that honor.

Third, preconceived and traditional ideas about sexuality and gender have been questioned and disproven.

For too long, we have understood sexuality and gender through restricted definitions and lenses, leading to what we now know are erroneous conclusions. While we knew that LGBTQ+ l people existed, society as a whole tended to view them as unnatural. Of course, now we know those conclusions were incredibly wrong.

Individuals fall within a diverse spectrum of human sexuality and gender identity. To think we knew everything that there was to know about sexuality and gender was the height of hubris. Science is constantly discovering new understandings of what it means to be human.

Individuals, and their family and friends, if they so choose, need to hold the power to determine their own sexulity and gender idenity. The individual is the only person that can convey and communicate their conscience in identifying their own sexuality and gender.

Fourth, I asked myself a simple question, “How would Jesus relate to LGBTQ+ people?”

As a Jesus-follower, this was at the heart of my evolution in becoming welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ+ people. After reading the Gospels, and seeing how inclusive Jesus was of those marginalized and ostracized by the religious community, I knew the path I needed to follow.

In addition, if the most important commandments are to love God and to love others, as Jesus stated, then my personal thoughts on the matter did not matter.

As a Jesus-follower, I am simply called to love God and love people. I am not to judge others or make determinations on their souls, but I am simply to practice the love of God to them.

If Jesus were walking the streets today, I believe he would be participating in a Pride parade in his local community to support LGBTQ+ people.

I hope you’re able to celebrate Pride this month. Pride is not just for the LGBTQ+ community; it’s really for us all. It’s a celebration of being human and created in the image of God, perfectly created just as we are.

Happy Pride Month, everyone!

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