Recap of the Chicago Pride Parade/I’m Sorry Campaign 2013

This past Sunday marked the 4th time I was involved with the I’m Sorry Campaign and engaged in tangibly coming forward in a posture of I’m Sorry for the way the Christian community has treated the LGBT community.

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For starters, I got there late, oy do I hate being late. Weaving through the crowds from Wellington to the IHOP off of Halstead took 1.5 hours! It was during my time getting to our spot that that I found out that a bunch of I’m Sorry Campaigners went to where there were protesters, but the ministry of the I’m Sorry Campaign proceeded in both locations (I will write more about this later).

It was during the parade I asked several individuals about what they were sorry about. Some of the responses were about the stereotypes they had drawn up at one time about individuals of the LGBT Community, some of it was expressions of being sorry for the way some Christians treated individuals of the LGBT Community, and some of it was just their opportunity to be fully come out for themselves and some were there in support of their daughter (I love L*’s parents!)

Another blessing of the day was that one of my fellow PFLAGers was out there too! I met some of his family who he already shared with them what the I’m Sorry Campaign was all about. It is a blessing to see people I care for and love with those they also care for and love, it’s one of my favorite parts of aiding to perfect shalom.

It was only after the parade that people were asking me what I was sorry about, and for me I’m truly sorry for the way Christians have treated the LGBT Community inasmuch to say that God doesn’t love them, whether by directly communicating that or by living a life that makes God out to be a heteronormative diety…God’s not, he’s much bigger than labels we affix to him.
I think the one definitive moment of talking to some lesbians and gay men about what I’m sorry about when I was congratulated by a lesbian who said; “I’m an atheist, but thank God for what you’re doing!” Thanks be to God for moments like these, where the person who doesn’t believe in God’s existence gives thanks to God…amazing, truly amazing.

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I’m glad to have gone, and sadly my mother was going to join me for the I’m Sorry Campaign but got lost in the crowds (found her though! :-)) yet as I’ve heard her perspective she had a good time in her own right and 2 gay men helped her have a good time and they truly took care of my mother in a Christlike way, yay for the kindness of strangers.

In addition to going to Chicago Pride this year it is my intention to go to Memphis Pride; I’ve got some vacation time and I want to use it, and I love Tennesee, and the LGBT Community…why not? πŸ™‚

I will end my recap in this. Love wins, and love covers a multitude of sins. When we love as Christ loved us, when we posture ourselves into making ourselves servants instead of leaders, taking time to BE with others, God is with us no matter where we might be. I can’t say I’ve gotten out of my comfort zone inasmuch as I have expanded my comfort zone. By loving and taking time to BE and listen and talk and share the love of Christ any shred of timidity I might have goes out the window. God truly gives me clarity to seek out after those whose stories need to be heard, I want to be a vessel for God’s kingdom and glory to be and to love.

~Nathanael~

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Recap of the I’m Sorry Campaign/Gay Pride Parade in Chicago 2012

This was the first year I commuted primarily by “L” to the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. Blue Line Oak Park to Jackson, to Red Line Addison. It was very obviously very crowded, but there was a sense of bonhomie in the air for different reasons, and my reason was to join up with The Marin Foundation and their I’m Sorry Campaign for a third year.

It was my intention this year to be the eyes, heart, and ears of Jesus; eyes to watch people to see their reaction that an I’m Sorry t-shirt has and draw them into conversation about what we’re sorry about, a heart of love to those around us and whomever I was in contact with, and ears to hear people share their stories with me. I would have to say this approach was personally successful, thanks be to God. πŸ™‚

Due to a route change/extension the parade went the other way and we were half a block from the IHOP in Boystown, but the manyΒ I’m Sorry shirts made it noticeable where we were going to be. I said my hi’s and met some new people, I asked them from their perspective why they were sorry and for some it was because of once being homophobic to a point where the individual was worried that being Gay was transmittable, for another it was engaging the LGBT Community in a tangible and dynamic way of love, for another his journey was very similar to mine; years of struggling to figure out a personal stance as to if being a follower of Christ is compatible with being LGBT…
I liked that conversation, because the struggle to get away from “well my mom says/my father says/my pastor says” blanket statements is a worthy one, and I recognize in my life that if a person struggles through this and still thinks the same way at the end of the struggle, I’m more accepting of someone who does the legwork to come up with their own thoughts & ideas on this topic.

Then there was P* and D*; two guys, two moments of expressing I’m sorry for the way Christians have treated the LGBT community, two moments where they got what we were about, two good times and God times. I don’t want to give away their story simply because this moment was ours and ours alone.
I will say that it is a breath of fresh air in these God moments where there’s restoration and reconciliation, where perfect shalom seems closer and closer to coming to fruition. Itwill happen, and I want to do my part to be a part of it!

I had work in the evening so I left earlier, but in a way it was a blessing in disguise particularly with standstill foot traffic. People noticed the shirt and thought at first I was saying I’m Sorry for the pushing to move forward as it was very much the bottle neck at times, but I allowed those inquires to be addressed, to say I’m sorry for the way some Christians have treated the LGBT community by telling them that God doesn’t love them when in fact he does! It was received well, and I thank God for those moments when I couldn’t move forward because of the crowds.

All in all it was a good Pride Parade in Chicago yesterday. I wish I could have stayed there longer but I had responsibilities and I was blessed to have five hours off. The work of Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation and for those who associate with them isn’t a well worn path, it has been traversed by a few but there’s still work to be done. I take the matters of building bridges seriously, intentionally and incarnationally, that is to say I want to be in the same setting where my ministry is.
Jesus exemplified incarnational ministry best, he was with the people, he lived with them, he ate with them, he went through good times and bad times with them. If I call myself a follower of Christ I feel obligated out of love and discipleship to “go and do likewise”. The Gay Pride Parade comes only once a year, but there are still ways for me to engage and build bridges, and you know what? I’m going to do that! πŸ™‚

P.S.Β  brought my camera, but alas I didn’t take any photos 😦 Oh well, here are some from our event through the lens of others;

I wasn’t angry or pissed, just rather hot…pay no attention to me, I’m better behind the camera lens than in front of it!

Be blessed and continue to bless others,
Nathanael

2 things I’m contemplating prior to the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago

There are some individuals who say that you should compartmentalize and keep the sacred from the secular and vice versa. Yet the way I look at it, all truth is God’s truth and there doesn’t need to be a split up of the so-called sacred and secular.

As I prep for the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago I’m contemplating two things, one’s a well known prayer and one’s a cover song by Todd Rungren’s band Utopia called Love is theAnswer.

Saint Francis of Assisi’s prayer:

Utopia/Todd Rundgren – Love is the Answer

I’m excited for a third year to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community (not that there’s no overlap but there needs to be more) at the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago. God spoke to me prior to the event 3 years ago and I listened and I acted, and so I prepare to leave my house to answer the call once again.

It must be done, building bridges, because this is an issue the church cannot sweep under the carpet and hope nobody notices…well I notice it and the way we act the LGBT community knows it as well. These things take time, but I have faith in God and my generation that we will take care of the matter to truly take the steps of restoration and reconciliation between the Christian community and the LGBT community. Yet since it is in it’s early stages those individuals who go forward now, such as Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation, are pioneers; they’re blazing a trail that hasn’t been traversed and they’re going on faith and trusting in God because the outcome hasn’t been determined yet…but God will see them and I to completion, I have faith in him to do that πŸ™‚

John 13:34 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

~Nathanael~

Get out out of church and get to a Gay Pride Parade!

If you are a follower of Christ who desires to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, I advise you (since most of the parades fall on a Sunday) to get out of church and get to a Gay Pride Parade.

It’s one thing to say to yourself and others that you want to engage individuals who have been hurt by Christians, who have been marginalized and maybe even rejected, that you want to build a bridge, that you want to bring about some form of reconciliation and restoration…but if you don’t do it, what good are your words?

Words can lead to ideas, ideas can lead to plans, so why not make your words tangible and go to a Pride Parade and simply take the time to apologize to the individuals around you and even in the parade that you’re sorry for the way Christians have been unChristlike, heck if you personalize it (if you’ve been on the side of judgment and being unloving) and share where you’ve been and where God is leading you, I bet that will go a long way!

I don’t know when all the Gay Pride Parades are, so you’ll have to Google search your city plus Pride Parade.

In 10 days Chicago will be having their Gay Pride Parade and I intend to be there with some friends, The Marin Foundation and Andrew Marin. We’ll probably be in front of the IHOP in Boys Town. I am a follower of Christ and it is my desire and passion to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, will I be skipping church? Yes I will! I have no qualms about it, here’s why…

In Jesus’ telling of the parable of the prodigal son, the father doesn’t wait around for his son to come back to him, but rather when he sees his son in the distance he runs full of compassion to him. Too often I think the church sits back and waits for people to come through the doors and doesn’t budge from its seat, but that’s now how Jesus lived! Jesus engaged the people where they were, he went to them, he lived and functioned amongst them. Sure there were times when Jesus needed a breather and so he and his disciples would get away from it all for a short while, but then he would go back to the people, to humanity.

So like the father in Jesus’ parable I run! I choose to engage the LGBT community where they are and not waiting around for them to come to church, if they do, that’s great! But I rather go to the LGBT community, to the Gay Pride Parade, where the rubber meets the road…and guess what? “Where two or three are gathered in my name there I am in the midst of them” (italics are mine) God’s already at the Gay Pride Parade, he invites me and my friends and others to be a part not be apart.

Don’t let church get in the way,
Be the church at your local Gay Pride Parade this year!

~Nathanael~

Christian drama; so much for living together in unity

Psalm 133: 1 – How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony!
John 17:21 – I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one–as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.

The other day I found out that one author/blogger (John Shore) on the internet wrote a scathing blog post about another author/blogger (Andrew Marin). The content of what John wrote can be found here, but essentially the issue boils down to that John is verbal about his stance about whether being gay is a sin or not by stating from what he believes which is that it is not a sin to be gay, to which he tried to rip Andrew a new one for not putting it out there. Andrew doesn’t put out his stance in this matter, but it works splendidly for him, as it doesn’t isolate as many individuals as if he put out whether he thinks being gay is a sin or not.

It does piss me off that there’s this e-tension online right now because of Andrew Marin not putting out a definitive stance, I love Andrew Marin very much and interacting with him I am certainly biased in leaning on his side of things rather than John’s. My issue isn’t so much the nature of this e-tension, my issue is that it goes against unity as followers of Christ.

Jesus before he went back to God prayed that we would be one, the Psalmist David acknowledges how wonderful and pleasant it is when we live together in harmony/unity. Harmony and unity doesn’t mean that we as followers of Christ will always see eye-to-eye on issues, but it does lean to that we share a commonality, that is faith in Jesus Christ, we are to be brothers and sisters in Christ and we should love one another as Christ loves us.
Ripping apart someone online hardly demonstrates Christlike love and humility, it’s okay to disagree with your brother or sister in Christ, live in that tension but don’t go e-spewing this to the world because it doesn’t add to the love of God that has been richly poured out on all of humanity, it takes away from it.
How are we going to expect to see change in this world if we can’t learn to get along? It takes away from our witness to others when we bicker and argue instead of getting along despite our differences.

Truth to be told, the only one who is pleased by this is the devil, he wants to us who are followers of Christ fight with one another because that takes away from our ministries (personal as well as public). When we lose our focal point, Jesus and what he did and how we can live to be like him, our ministries become about us and not about God.

John – please engage in dialogue with Andrew Marin in person, he’s a swell guy and even at the end of the day if you don’t agree, learn to accept it and not be hung up about it. I love you and so much of what you write, but it hurts and saddens me that your actions aren’t aligned with being Christlike.
Andrew – Keep the faith, hang in there, I love you and what you’re doing, may God be honored by the actions you and The Marin Foundation are taking to build bridges.

~Nathanael~

Jennifer Knapp at Roscoe’s (recap)

Β Β Β  Last night I had the opportunity to hear the musician Jennifer Knapp speak and sing at Roscoe’s in Chicago. I’ve listened to her music for the past 15 years and finally I was given an opportunity to hear her perform. Tho recent and not new news about Jennifer is that she’s a lesbian, to which I briefly blocked her partner from moving (accidentally mind you). Jennifer is as articulate a speaker as well as a musician, it was truly a blessing to hear her stories, she puts it out there and she’s real and quite intentional. πŸ™‚

I love a good story, I really do, and I think at times that is lacking in our Western culture, if we were an oral tradition culture maybe we’d retain the magic that comes from sharing stories. Apart from story and song time with Jennifer Knapp there was Q&A with Jennifer Knapp, the questions were really really good! If a video of last night’s get-together gets posted online I’ll share the link because it was so good.

Then there was another good part of the night; my mother whom I have been going over the Love is an Orientation DVD and Curriculum with joined me! My mom is on her own path of doing what she can to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, primarily with some of her gay and lesbian friends, but also attending the local chapter of PFLAG when she can as well. I’m proud of her, not that her path is one where she has made a 180Β° in her journey, but her willingness to be more like Christ. I say being more like Christ, because Jesus even said that he didn’t come for the “well” but the “sick”, that is the ones in his day and age who were thrown under the bus chariot, in the same way I aspire to be in community with those who have been marginalized and exiled from the community at large but also the Christian community.

She’s making quantum leaps, she is engaging people in conversation, she’s “getting it” more and more…and she enjoyed the get-together last night’s event she can’t wait till the next one! πŸ™‚

In a way I don’t look at it as a case of that you can teach an old dog new tricks, but I see it as God can change the heart and mind of anyone for His glory. If you told me last year that my mom would be joining me in going to a gay bar in Chicago in the heart of the Boys Town district, I’d probably stifle a laugh and run off to somewhere private where I could laugh more…but God’s working on her heart and mind, he’s working on mine as well!

I also think it was a good opportunity for her to put in-real-life faces with Andrew Marin and The Marin Foundation, people whom I love so very much, people I love being around and just BEing as well as DOing. She also got to meet one of the men who is in the DVD series, which she was kinda unabashedly acknowledging how handsome he was, “even more than in the DVD series” haha, you know who you are D*! πŸ™‚

Here’s to the continual process of building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community,
Here’s to Jennifer Knapp and her partner,
Here’s to God constantly performing heart and mind surgery,
Here’s to God’s faithfulness and love for all of humanity,

and here’s to the next opportunity my mom and I have to go to one of the Living in the Tension events!

~Nathanael~

Faith, Outcomes, and the road less traveled

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The road not taken – Robert Frost

I write this while it’s still fresh in my head…

I just came from a older men Bible study, I brought down the median age to 63 if you want to know how old I’m talking. I was invited by a guy who attends the main church that has a church plant that I attend, my “church notes” notebook drew him into conversation with me..20 minutes after the fact we parted ways, but he invited me to attend a Bible study that meets at a local mom & pop place on Wednesdays…

So I did.

We got to talking and we started talking about faith and outcomes, and while I was listening I had an “a-ha” moment, to which that moment is as follows; faithfulness to God in different ways have different outcomes, for the well worn path it requires little to no faith to travel that road and the outcome is more predictable than not. God is calling me to a road less traveled, to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, it’s not a well worn path, it’s not something that can be ignored by my generation, it can’t be swept under the carpet and shrugged off.

Do I truly know what the outcome will be in my engagement of building bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community? I really don’t, but that’s where my faith comes into play; that whatever happens, God will be with me and he will see me through. Maybe I will be part of the people who choose love over judgment, faithfulness over walking away because the fire got too hot. I had a dream once where I brought the “I’m Sorry Campaign” (I wrote about some of it here) to the Castro District of San Francisco, to which I say to that, why does it have to be ‘just a dream’? Why not make it a reality? God willing, if it’s meant to be I will be a part of that!

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Noah from the Bible built an ark to house the animals in preparation for weather never seen before! Rain what’s that? He built the ark, a road clearly not traveled, he had faith without knowing the complete outcome of his actions.

Moses from the Bible led the Israelites through the desert for 40 years in search of “The Promise Land” and he didn’t even enter! Yet he remained faithful to God without knowing the complete outcome of what he and they were doing.

The Bible has many examples of men AND women who didn’t know the outcome of their actions, but they had faith in God to see them through. I want to emulate that behavior, I want to keep walking that path even tho I don’t know see ahead, to keep walking “by faith and not by sight”.

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Back to the Bible study for older men…
I shared with them my intentions and desires to build bridges between the Christian community and the LGBT community, to bring God’s love to people who may have gotten the short end of the stick from Christians who say and act in ways that are not Christlike. They lauded my intentions without a hint of being snarky! They get that engagement and faithfulness need to be carried out and not doing anything won’t make this issue go away, it needs to happen! I was happy, almost in tears of happiness to be honest, because while this is something I desire to be a part of I don’t always know what kind of Christians I’m dealing with when I bring it up, some are open and wanting to be a part of it as well while others are…hmmm…limiting of God’s grace and love for humanity as a whole? I think that’s more of what it is than plain old homophobia.

I look forward to next Wednesday morning already, these guys are awesome!

~Nathanael~