A Different Kind of Christian Demonstration at Gay Pride

Posted by | June 30, 2010 | Inspiration | 358 Comments

How does the Church communicate God’s love to the gay community?

This past weekend Chicago, along with many other US cities, celebrated Gay Pride with a parade. As a part of the weekend, Nathan and a group of over 30 Christians from various Chicago churches went to demonstrate at the Gay Pride Parade with the Marin Foundation.

Their demonstration was much different, though.

While the most vocal “Christian” presence at the parade was in the form of protesters with “God Hates Fags” signs, Nathan and a team from the Marin Foundation took a different approach… they chose to apologize.

The volunteers wore black t-shirts with the phrase “I’m Sorry” on the front and held signs with messages of apology, on behalf of all Christians, for the way the church has treated the gay community.

While the ultimate message Jesus came to preach was one of love, grace and compassion, we’ve sadly misrepresented Him and alienated sons and daughters from their Father’s embrace… and I’m so excited to see how Nathan and his team took a different, humble approach and in the end, did something far more powerful than preaching or shouting… they showed love.

Nathan posted a story from the Pride Parade outreach on his blog that absolutely needs to be heard…Here’s some excerpts…

What I loved most about the day is when people “got it.” I loved watching people’s faces as they saw our shirts, read the signs, and looked back at us. Responses were incredible. Some people blew us kisses, some hugged us, some screamed thank you. A couple ladies walked up and said we were the best thing they had seen all day.

Watching people recognize our apology brought me to tears many times. It was reconciliation personified.

My favorite though was a gentleman who was dancing on a float. He was dressed solely in white underwear and had a pack of abs like no one else. As he was dancing on the float, he noticed us and jokingly yelled, “What are you sorry for? It’s pride!” I pointed to our signs and watched him read them.

Then it clicked.

Then he got it.

He stopped dancing. He looked at all of us standing there. A look of utter seriousness came across his face. And as the float passed us he jumped off of it and ran towards us. He hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”

I think a lot of people would stop at the whole “man in his underwear dancing” part. That seems to be the most controversial. It’s what makes the evening news. It’s the stereotype most people have in their minds about Pride.

Sadly, most Christians want to run from such a sight rather than engage it. Most Christian won’t even learn if that person dancing in his underwear has a name. Well, he does. His name is Tristan.

However, I think Jesus would have hugged him too. It’s exactly what I read throughout scripture: Jesus hanging out with people that religious people would flee from. Correlation between then and now? I think so.

Acceptance is one thing. Reconciliation is another. Sure at Pride, everyone is accepted (except perhaps the protestors). There are churches that say they accept all. There are business that say the accept everyone. But acceptance isn’t enough. Reconciliation is.

Reconciliation forces one to remember the wrongs committed and relive constant pain. Yet it’s more powerful and transformational because two parties that should not be together and have every right to hate one another come together for the good of one another, for forgiveness, reconciliation, unity.

What I saw and experienced at Pride 2010 was the beginning of reconciliation. It was in the shocked faces of gay men and women who did not ever think Christians would apologize to them.

I hugged a man in his underwear. I hugged him tightly. And I am proud.

What’s so cool about this story is that when Nathan posted the picture it lit up on Facebook and someone recognized Tristan and Tristan got in touch with Nathan yesterday afternoon. He said that all he could talk about from his experience at the Pride Parade was meeting Nathan and all of the Christians who were there to say they were sorry.

He was moved and he and Nathan are going to meet up later this week for coffee.

That’s what it’s all about. Who knows what will happen or what will come of this, but one life was impacted and countless seeds were planted in the hearts of many.

Pray for Tristan and Nathan’s conversation and pray that this will be the beginning of a movement of reconciliation between the Church and the gay community. UPDATE 07/06/10: Nathan posted an interview with Tristan on his blog!

Huge props to Nathan, Kevin, Andrew, everyone at the Marin Foundation, and those who courageously joined them this weekend in taking Christ’s love to a place most Christians would run away from. Thanks for being an example and setting a high bar for the rest of us to follow.

How is your church communicating to the gay community? Maybe we need to start with a humble apology.

UPDATE: Many people have responded wanting to do something similar in their cities, so the Marin Foundation is making the “I’m Sorry” t-shirts available. Details here.

About Tim Schraeder

Tim Schraeder is obsessed with all things social media. Having worked with some of the world’s largest churches and para-church organizations, he served as an evangelist for social media with a knack for connecting people and spreading ideas that matter. He’s been a consultant and coach as well as a sought-after speaker and author who helped write the book on communication and social media for the church. Today, Tim is passionate to help businesses and organizations connect, engage, and build loyal followers across all forms of social media. He is a die-hard Chicagoan who can be found in any neighborhood coffeeshop that has free wifi.

  • http://twitter.com/jamespolits jamespolits

    This is what real Christianity looks like // RT @timschraeder A Different Kind of Christian Demonstration at Gay Pride http://bit.ly/drwUoI

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/leroyking3 leroyking3

    A Different Kind of Christian Demonstration at Gay Pride http://bit.ly/bJDZt7 // The mercy and love of God in action.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/Bryen123 Bryen123

    Very Inspiring!! “A different Kind of Christian Demonstration at Gay Pride” http://bit.ly/a4P4V8

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/RachelFoxHodges RachelFoxHodges
  • http://twitter.com/nathanchrist nathanchrist

    RT @timschraeder A Different Kind of Christian Demonstration at Gay Pride http://bit.ly/drwUoI

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/TrinaLesner TrinaLesner

    love this, made me cry RT @RachelFoxHodges Good Read http://www.timschraeder.com/2010/06/30/a-different-kind-of-demonstration-at-gay-pride/

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/mynameisscott mynameisscott

    Here’s the Jesus we need to be following: http://sn.im/zmnmj

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  • http://www.blainehogan.com Blaine Hogan

    I thought you'd all like to read the response to this post "A Gay Response to Christian Pride" http://www.blainehogan.com/post/864586447/a-gay-r

  • http://skeivelillemeg.blogg.no Rita : )

    I've been crying all the time I've read this! :') Finally we get respected and loved from christians 😀

  • Anne

    Well, other than praying for people's "conversion," good article, glad not all Christians are selfish bigoted assholes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=537591886 Bruce Alastair Lee

    Thank-you for sharing… Amazing story

  • Kent

    This is fabulous! There are so many 'secret' friends of our community, and also those churches who have been our OUT friends and supports for years. I recently visited Plymouth Congregational UCC in Madison, Wi. About the first thing I heard from the pulpit were their plans for marching in the upcoming Gay Pride Parade in Madison. I included that wonderful experience in an article on 10ThousandCouples.com . Blessings! http://10thousandcouples.com/issue/september-2010

  • Pieter

    Thank you.

    Being 'ex-gay' myself, this meant a lot to me. Thank you for sharing – I cried too.

  • Renee H

    Our pastor (@ Life Church of Chicagoland) showed the documentary 'Lord,Save us From Your Followers' in church a few months ago. This was very similar to what was shown in the movie and it made a huge difference to both the folks at the Pride rally and the guy that did the confessing. I needed this desperately as I've got some folks in my life that I need to know how to show true love to rather than hatred or judgementalism.

  • Redd

    Well done.

  • http://twitter.com/Senshuu @Senshuu

    I only wish this sort of thing happened more often.
    Awesome in the purest sense of the word.

  • http://marketingjesus.net Joe Woolworth

    Great post. Very moving. Made me think of the confessional booth story in "Blue Like Jazz". Love the fact that Christians did more than "protest" they "demonstrated".


  • Kat

    This put the biggest smile on my face! I remember when I came to my own revelation about how my religion viewed homosexuality and my own beliefs regarding it. I didn't have the courage to say I'm sorry, I just pretended that the hateful person I had been never existed. I applaud this group and can't wait until the movement really catches on. Thank you so much for reporting this!

  • http://twitter.com/odanigrrrl dani riedell

    thank you so much for posting this, it brought tears to my eyes. I only hope that more and more Christians catch on to this wonderful movement :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_X2TNKBSDRXPLQSTGXB6UGYPVMU Vicki H

    I remember when my son came home (drunk) one night and apologized about getting his dad in the Baptist
    Church, I asked, “I always, wondered, why did you stop going?”  He said that the preacher, whom he had
    great respect for started preaching about homosexuals in a negative way.  He had two gays friends, boy & girl who were stuggling with their sexuality in high school, and he was very protective of them.  He did not appreciate the preacher saying anything rude about gays.  I told him I was proud of him, and his generation who are more accepting, and how sad I am that my friends could not “come out” back in the 70’s – 80’s.  I, too, stopped going to that church for the same reason, and my husband, well, he isn’t going there anymore, either.  Stop the hating, PLEASE! 

  • Anonymous

    Real Christians at last, I was worried the world was running out of them :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J4UKGRKXMUJXNOCQML6ZYPIOZI FRAMED

    I ama Rev.. I bury people who have no money for Pastors. I buy food and medication for Elderly Christians won’t help. My MInistry is suffering because Christians say NO! Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyers both won’thelp but could end a lot of suffering. Christians blast me for asking for help. Rev. Mays, P.O. Box 2264, Livingston, Texas 77351   What will you do?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charles-Stearns/100001316360952 Charles Stearns

    An apology is a very good start.  Thank you for that.

    However, remember that  true contrition MUST include the much larger issue of making amends.  What are you going to do to make amends for the centuries of gay repression?  Will you now work to elect legislators who will recognise the inherent rights of gays?  Repeal all laws denying the right to marry?  Pass employment protection laws? 

    What will YOU do to make amends?

    • Aaliyah allen

      Wow get a life.

  • http://dbakeca.it Giovanni Rosso

    No one  should judge the others. Only God can judge all of us.

  • http://twitter.com/LOST85 Andrew Ruiz

    this story inspires me to step out and reach out! love it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Alex.Casanas23 Photobomber Casanas

    I’m not Christian, but I’ve done quite a lot of reading on it and I’ve always been confused on how the most vocal Christians acted nothing like Christ. These people are what Christians should be like.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brett-Van-Andel/148300386 Brett Van Andel

    Just a quick note before reading all of the comments below. If the Gospel’s message is timeless, then why are we needing to change it’s presentation to meet an ever-changing culture. The Bible states in Matthew 10:24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.” So why are we striving at presenting the gospel in a way any different from Jesus’ method? Every scripture encounter that Jesus had with the lost (and there are plenty because that’s where he was!) revealed immediately his purpose when he called the sinner to repentance and faith in Him. He does not preach a message of acceptance of sin, and this is clearly the message that Tristan received from his encounter at Gay Pride 2010. 
    John 15:19: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

    What Gospel are we sharing? Does it coincide with Scripture? Do we believe in the infallible and inerrant Word of God? Every time we act out in a way that is no in accordance with God’s Word, we are (often unknowingly) leaving to question whether we truly fear the Word of God, and believe as 2 Timothy 2:16 states, “All Scripture is God breathed…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=619610222 Maggie Smith

    Amen and bless you all!

  • http://www.facebook.com/jason.robb.3386 Jason Robb

    That is beautiful.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6TQU7UCPAGWQJKJQK27VPIEF6M T

    These homosexualists are not Christians.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1775206555 Vonnie Wilford

    I’m not one to shout out hateful things at people.  I think if we showed more love in our actions toward them, we would get more positive results.  That’s why I admire Cathy.  He quietly lives his Christianity.  If a reporter had not been trying to stir up controversy, he would never have had to answer the question on same-sex marriage.  I don’t think he wanted all this media attention on him or his business; but he had to answer the question truthfully.  He doesn’t hate gays as he’s being portrayed by the liberal media.  I don’t either.  Jesus died for gays just as He died for me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Vanhoosier/1627051101 James Vanhoosier

    political views ?

  • CARMEL350

    I feel offended by the posters saying that you are” sorry for how the church has treated you”. First off, the church really means people, so are you saying you believe all people that go to church, and all religions are all hateful and homophobic?

  • xflowahsx

    I’m a straight Christian and first heard about this from a random post on a discussion board. I am one of those Christians that insisted that homosexuality is a sin according to the bible. A couple of years ago I did a complete 180 in my views, so I can completely relate to the idea behind the “I’m Sorry” project.

    I wept when I saw the signs and the reception from the crowd. Because of my change of heart, I feel the need to go into the gay community and try to make amends. I’m thrilled that Christians seem to be getting on board, particularly those that would identify as conservative or fundamentalist as I do.

    I truly believe that this is a work of the holy spirit… indeed all of the changes that I am beginning to see in conservative Christians that I know. We’re focusing more on “being Christ” to a world that doesn’t know Him.

  • michelle

    those are my photos. I love them and thank you for using them. -michelle gantner

  • Aaliyah allen

    That was rude.

  • WoodyStorey

    Why do these gay men have to dress in such a way?….just because they’re gays?…it shows such little class and I sure as hell would not my young seeing these people acting as they were, being very sexually suggestive and just acting very “ladylike” for lack of a better term. I don’t care if people want to be gay…I don’t care but show some class…can gays act with class?…do they want to?…or is it always this way to act like utter idiots?…

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