Called to Be Seen, Be Heard, Be Pride

Our presence matters.

Our voices. Our stories. Our laughter. Our gifts. Our tears.

And often that isn’t easy, because it means risking ourselves to those who may reject us. It means being vulnerable and risking true relationship, when relationships don’t always turn out the way we hope. But it also means taking a risk for truth, for breathing free, for a better and more honest life not just for ourselves but for those who follow us.

In The Book of Awakening, Mark Nepo speaks again and again to the importance of being true to yourself. He writes

“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are, when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed, and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.”

I’ve taken that risk and gotten hurt. When I came out at the church I served, the end result was that it became a place where I no longer could do healthy ministry. I had to leave a call I loved. There was a lot of hurt in the congregation.

But there were also a lot of people who had to reconcile the word “lesbian” with the young woman who’d drummed in worship, baptized and confirmed their children, prayed for them when they were sick, shared meals with them over a dinner table as well as bread and wine at the Lord’s Table. And as I watched over the years as a number of young people who had been part of our youth group came out as gay, lesbian or bisexual, I’m glad to know  that they had a lesbian pastor who did her best to tell the truth about being someone who loves God and who loves women.

It was worth the risk, despite the pain.

When my former partner and I had our wedding ceremony in 2005, we chose this as our gospel reading:

You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your God in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Being seen matters. We have a light that needs to shine, a light that brightens the world. And I believe, with absolute certainty, that God’s light shines through us, is brighter because of us. Hey, who do you think made the rainbow?

The beautiful thing about Pride Week is that we have all kinds of opportunities  to be reminded that our lights don’t shine in isolation. Our voices aren’t just a whisper. We have the opportunity to celebrate together the strength of our vision, the power and beauty of our collective voice. We are stronger together, and we have FUN together. Join the party!

On Tuesday, there are great options for those who want to get outdoors. Join the Anchorage Front Runners 2nd Annual Tuesday Night Pride Fun Run/Walk and BBQ at Westchester Lagoon (W. 15th and U St.). The run/walk will take place from 6-7 p.m., followed by the BBQ (which will be within walking distance from the running location)

Or, if you’d rather hike, or would rather hang out with the Arctic Foxes Women’s Rugby Club, join them at 7 p.m. at the Glen Alps Trail Head to hike Flattop with a rainbow flag, and claim the mountain for Pride! Both events are free, all ages welcome.

There are also three opportunities this week to see the documentary “On These Shoulders We Stand,”  as we honor those who have been seen and heard and paved the way for many of us. This is a historical account of gay life and activism before Stonewall. Filmmaker Glenne McElhinney and local activists will be available for conversations after the viewings. All viewings are free, with all ages welcome, including 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 5 at UAA (Rasmussen Hall room 110), 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center (1300 E. 19th Ave), and 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 6 at Out North (3800 Debarr Rd).

On Sunday, June 10, there will be an Ecumenical Pride Worship Service at 1 p.m. at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church at Lake Otis and Tudor. All are welcome, and all means all!

How will you Be Seen, Be Heard, Be Pride this week?

About me: Susan is a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, serving as a hospital chaplain, and has mostly gotten used to being the “lesbian poster child” in her church. She finds the Sacred all kinds of places — in the mountains, in church, at a hospital bedside, in the midst of a heartfelt conversation, running along the coastal trail, in music that makes her cry and stories that make her laugh.

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