Saturday, June 9, 2007


Throughout the US there are events this month to mark Pride-- the opposite, if you will, of being closeted. This is an opportunity for LGBTQ folks to be visible, if they wish, and to let the world know that being a lesbian or gay man (or any other of the alphabet soup) is something of which they are proud.

I have mixed feelings about the use of the word "pride."

It is a word that has a troubling heritage, from a religious/ spiritual point of view. Who doesn't immediately go to the now cliché, "Pride goeth before a fall"? (This is a misquoted Proverb, as it happens-- the correct KJV quote is "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall." Proverbs 16:18) In all of Proverbs, in fact, every use of the word "pride" is negative-- in every case something contrary to the spirit God wills in humans.

I realize that proof-texting will not set me free. But still.

The first dictionary definition of "pride" is "a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc."

The connotation of "pride" is that it is about accomplishment-- as if being gay or lesbian is something we have achieved by our own choice. Don't mean to carp, folks, but that is something of which we are constantly accused by those who would throw Romans 1 in our faces-- that we choose to be LGBTQ, that we are in control of whom we love, towards whom our affections and longings bend. And for many of us, that is not the case. As someone who prayed for years to be relieved of what felt like an affliction-- constantly falling in love with women despite begin married to a wonderful man-- it is not possible for me to say I chose to be a lesbian. And so it is not something in which, strictly speaking, I can take pride-- by that definition.

It is not until we get to the third definition that I begin to get a glimmer of the intent of this usage: "a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem."

Well, OK then.

And I can anticipate what many of you may be feeling as you read this post. As people who have been ground into the dust, as people who have been told we had a psychiatric condition that needed to be cured, told we were sinners who needed to be saved from our orientation as sinful... as people who have been beaten and stabbed and shot to death because of who we love... perhaps it is good that we apply the corrective of "pride."

So, I'm off, to my local pride event. To wear my t-shirt that says "pride." And later this month I am off to sing at a worship service celebrating pride month, probably in my clerical collar. I am off-- to experience pride in what once was my heartache, and now is my joy.


Kate said...

Thanks for this lovely discussion of 'pride'. I think of it as being proud to be who I am, all of what that is -- but I'm still using that third definition you quoted.

Enjoy your Pride!

Lisa said...

Oh, my! Cecelia, are you "coming out" this month then?? Or will you maintain the stance of a "supporter"? (Which I could certainly understand.) A word to the wise: If you kiss Beloved on the lips during these events, you're definitely "out," hon! {grin}

I've been a lesbian since before I even knew there was such a word, and I agree with you: "gay pride" always strikes me as not exactly the right phrase. But ... it's the one we're stuck with, I suppose.

Enjoy the festivities.

Cecilia said...

Thanks, both of you, for your good wishes. Lisa, no, not out-out. Just trying not to not do anything I'd like to do. (Beloved and I save kissing on the lips for... non public occasions. See Festival! post...).

It was fun. We (Beloved, my daughter and I) participated in the Time Warp, saw a great show by three lovely drag queens, and donned stickers that say "God made me perfect."

It was lovely.

Pax, C.

don't eat alone said...


I was going to say, "You go, girl," but it seems the event has already happened. I'm glad you had a great day. Keep going.


Cynthia said...

The concept of pride is a challenging one for any Christian, but I would imagine it to be more challenging when faced with the particular tension of feeling you have to hide a big part of who you are. Excellent, thought provoking post.

KJ said...

I echo the uncomfortable reaction to the word "pride", but I am in complete agreement with the intent of Pride events (i.e., you and I are just fine the way we were creted). However, very often, IMHO, Pride events seem to emphasize aspects of LGBT "sub-culture" that emphasize our differences and not what we have in common with the "real world". I guess that's the hard, every day work for us.

But, it is a party! The first Pride parade I attended after coming out was a hoot! Of course, I was completely unware of "Dykes on Bikes".

Jennifer said...

Hmmmm....wonderful post. As someone both in and out of my own personal closet, I have never participated in pride events beyond those at the institutions where I've worked. And come to think of it, all of those were before I found myself sliding on the continuum from purely straight to, well, less than/more than straight. Perhaps one day I too will be able to appreciate the word, the event, and pure internal and external acceptance. Thank you for your always beautiful posts.

We Do It Too said...

i had never thought of the definition of pride so much...thank you for making my brain move this morning

Grandmère Mimi said...

Cecilia, this is a lovely reflection on "pride" and its several meanings.

Perhaps, the use of the word "pride" as in "gay pride" embodies a hint of irony? I don't know, and who am I to say? I'm just a straight old bird.

tribalchurch said...

Beautiful post.

There are some feminist theologians who say that often the greatest sin for women is not pride, rather it's not thining of themselves as highly as they ought--as children of God, made in the image of God. I tend to agree with them. I think we could all use a little pride, in the dignified sense.

lj said...

Cecelia, This is a lovely post and I'm glad you went. And I hate to tell you, because I've never seen you bother with this sort of thing, but you've been tagged.

Anonymous said...

Okay - at the risk of making Calvin whirl in his grave (didn't he say something about pride?) I am proud to know you -- albeit via blog world -- and your family should be exceedingly proud of you and you should be so proud of yourself for developing into such an awesome pastor. And God is so proud . . .

Bill said...

I plan on being in NYC for the Pride parade. Actually, I plan on riding my motorcycle in the parade. I think the guys get to follow Dykes on Bikes. That's the usual line up. My friend Antonio wants to go with me. He wants to wear hot pants. I told him "No Way", you'll end up burning your legs on he exhaust pipes. Somebody has to think safely.