On Saturday, Sept. 8, the annual Pride Vermont Parade and Festival was held in downtown Burlington. The skies were clear, the air was crisp, and the sun was lush.
Around 11:15 a.m., groups who would be marching in the parade began congregating at the Hood Plant on South Winooski. Over the next hour and a half, the gathering area filled with more and more groups. Colleges, environmental activists, state politicians, the Vermont Library Association, religious groups and many others joined the LGBTQ+ community to create a “place for the entire community – LGBTQ+ and allies – of all ages, races, and backgrounds to come together.”
What “began as an anniversary celebration of the Stonewall Riots…has evolved over time to encompass the many LGBTQ heroes, struggles, and victories since” (from Pride Vermont). It was a grand celebration, bumping with electronica, textured with leather, splashed with rainbows and bursting with smiling people of all ages, backgrounds, political beliefs and sexual identities…all with different stories to tell, all with different reasons for being there.
As a person of Christian faith and as a pastor, I was grateful to join members of my congregation to walk with those who are like me and those who are different from me. Marching behind a banner and rainbow flag, I was there for four simple reasons:
1) to listen to the stories from members of the LGBTQ+ community,
2) to lament how our culture in general and the church in particular continue to marginalize, wound and oppress people for their sexual identities,
3) to show the LGBTQ+ community that many people of Christian faith support them for being exactly who they are, and
4) to have fun with friends, new and old. Through it all, I was able to listen, to lament and to have fun. I pray also that my presence, and the presence of members of my church, was able to send a message of support to at least some who needed to hear it that day.
It was a simple thing, really, a simple thing to gather for a little parade in Burlington on a beautiful late-summer Saturday morning. Some of the best things in life are simple, right? Some of the most powerful things are simple, too. And how simply good and powerful it was to celebrate Pride 2018. May that simple parade be leaven for us in the Burlington area for another year. May the stories we shared bring understanding. May the rainbows we waved become healing for those who have been wounded. May the steps we took on Church Street turn into steps we take together the rest of the year, too. And may something so simple be light and growth and love for us all.
Thank you, Pride Vermont!