I experienced something new when I attended the Charlotte Pride Festival. There were rainbows on streamers, flags, and beads. Plus lots of music, smiling faces, hugs (I love hugs!), and yummy food. Much of the event was like parades I’ve attended before.
Pride Takes Courage
Until this year, I wasn’t brave enough to step out and experience the local pride events. My reasons were that the event was too far away or I didn’t know the layout of the city very well or where to park. Back then, I talked myself out of going because I didn’t know anyone there or I might put myself in some sort of danger. The truth was I was still hiding and afraid to be seen with the LGBT crowd.
Whatever my excuse was in the past, it didn’t keep me from experiencing the Charlotte event this year. The main reason I wanted to attend was to help out at our church booth, handing out rainbow necklaces and information cards about our services.
I did have some reservations too, especially when I realized that I would be watching the festivities alone without the support of my new church friends at Missiongathering Charlotte.
Pride Is Not Always Praised
Our church booth was located less than 50 feet from the haters — hardcore Christians who boisterously yelled, “You’re all going to hell! Repent and turn from your wicked ways!” Nonetheless, the love surrounding the event mostly drowned out the protester’s vile chanting, unless you were focused in their direction.
I was surprised to see at least ten other churches involved in the parade. There are even more gay-affirming churches in the Charlotte area. Unfortunately, there are still many Christians who are afraid to come out as being gay. Others need to accept Christ in their lives. That’s why it’s important to be willing to open the conversations and let people know they are loved.
Pride Has Some Misconceptions
Leading up to the day of the event, I anticipated that I would see a lot of oversexed young people with tattoos, body piercing, scantily-clothed and dancing in the streets. Perhaps I was imagining the hippies of my day. I really didn’t know what to expect, but I was willing to give it a chance.
What I did see was people of all ages (including my own), with tattoos and some without, some with body piercings, all dressed in a variety of ways. Some were dressed like me (a polo and comfy shorts), some in outrageous costumes, and some barely dressed at all. Everyone was smiling, laughing, having a great time, visiting and meeting new people.
The strangest thing I saw was a few topless women with tape over their nipples. I didn’t know what to think at first, and I concluded that they were probably transgender females to males. After the parade, I asked a friend who is more familiar with the LGBT community than I am what to make of it. My friend informed me that the tape over the nipples is a way to get past the nudity laws. I’m learning something new every day.
I am embarrassed by my naive assumption, and I never want to offend anyone. But, this goes to show you the many misconceptions we often hold about LGBT people and the mistakes we are likely to make in getting to know them. I realize I’m bound to make more mistakes as I get more involved with this community, but being willing to make mistakes is how I will learn.
Pride Begins With Self-Confidence
The event was fun and such a wonderful experience because there was love all around. Everyone was accepted, no matter how they were dressed or who they were with.
I ended up watching the parade by myself. A nice couple was willing to chat with me before everything got started. Despite what some may think, being at the parade didn’t encourage me to get a tattoo, body piercings, or go topless in the street, although I don’t condemn those that do.
My first pride parade gave me the confidence to identify as myself and feel good about who God created me to be, and not feel ashamed with having an attraction to other women.
It is often said, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I think the same stands true with people, especially those who are LGBT. We shouldn’t assume someone is ungodly by the way they dress or present themselves. God created all of us, and loves each and every one of us the same. Be willing to accept others as God accepts you.
Have you had misconceptions about others? Perhaps those who are LGBT? You’ve read some of mine, share yours as well, so we can continue the conversation. Thanks.