For the most part, I gave a lot of thought to what I'd wear Sunday. I had the shirt picked out and decided I'd choose the white Capri pants over the black pair to wear with it. I opted for my tennis shoes that nicely coordinated with my outfit rather than putting on a pair of comfortable sandals. Then, almost as an afterthought, I pulled out my silver necklace with a cross on it. It's a necklace my sister had made for me years ago. I wear it on occasions when I want to be reminded that God is with me. Sunday seemed like the perfect occasion to wear the necklace. I was headed to a Pride parade.
I have marched in Pride parades before but last weekend's trumped all the others. The organization I marched with, Affinity Community Services was No. 83 in a roster of 200. The crowd was huge; it was a record of 850,000 people. I was excited. I gave away beads to the onlookers and danced to the music along with my fellow marchers. For all the excitement and revelry, I wouldn't necessarily say I was proud to be marching. I've rarely described myself as proud of any of my identities. Although I think of my ancestors as strong people who withstood the transatlantic slave trade, centuries of legalized enslavement, and contemporary racism, I don't generally describe myself as a proud African American. I don't generally think of myself that way and yet there was distinct moment during the parade when I felt a sense of pride.
About midway through the parade, I glanced over to my right and noticed a group of protestors. They were displaying signs that reflected their beliefs about what God thinks of LGBT people. The signs referred to us as sinful and the people who held them shouted angrily at us over a microphone. I was struck by the sight of this group of people. I wasn't simply struck by the fact that a group of people would gather to rain on other people's parade, although that stood out to me. What struck me more was that a group of people would intentionally gather as Christians and set out to rain on other people's parade. I'd read about people doing things like this before but hadn't ever experienced it. Perhaps this approach was the only one they believed they could use to get their message across.
Moved by what I saw and heard, I decided to try a different approach. I walked nearer to where they were. I shouted, "God loves you!" I shouted it a few more times doubting that my soft voice would carry over the noise of the parade. Bolstered by that little cross that I almost didn't wear, I shouted it a few more times. As I felt the force of love moving against fear, I started crying. I cried because I knew the significance of my presence. I knew the significance of having worn the cross to the Pride parade. God was with me. And, God was with all of us who marched in and for liberation, love, and justice Sunday. For the first time, I felt proud at Pride.