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.