In this season of Gay Pride celebrations, I asked a friend, “What are we gays proud of?” He looked at me as if he thought I was crazy.

Finally he replied, “Well, I guess I’m proud of the progress we’ve made.”

“Are you going to take credit for that?” I asked with a twinkle in my eye, as I observed his frustration with this conversation. I decided to add fuel to the fire.

“To win friends and influence people, using gay would not be the best way to describe yourself to a group of fundamentalists, evangelicals, Republicans, or even some Democrats,” I said. “On the other hand, to be identified as Christian wouldn’t get you high-fives and a standing ovation in a crowd of gays and lesbians. Neither population has a perfect record for peaceful co-existence.”

I paused briefly.

“Pity the person who self-identifies as a gay Christian. That individual is neither understood nor totally accepted by either group. He is a suspect in the eyes of both. There are plenty of loud-mouth extremists on both sides of issues of faith, ethnicity, and sexuality. Unfortunately there is a serious shortage of soft-spoken peacemakers.”

During my brief outburst I could see his defenses building.

“Let me tell you something I’m really proud of,” he said, warming up to his rebuttal. I grinned. “I will take credit for some of the progress we’ve made. I’m proud that I’m not afraid any longer. I’m proud that I had the nerve to come out of the closet. It took guts, but at least I’m honest.”

I understood, and I let him know that I was proud of him, too. He did deserve some of the credit for the progress.

Over the next several minutes, we mentioned other reasons to be proud. Included in that list was the action of the Roeland Park City Council. It wasn’t easy and it took more than one try, but they did pass a resolution that strengthened their anti-discrimination ordinances.

I’m proud of those who expended their energy and collectively walked scores of miles in April to raise money for AIDS research. I’m grateful to all those caregivers who serve the 5,000 AIDS patients in the Kansas City region.

I’m proud of the Kansas City Diversity Coalition plans for Gay Pride and for the Big Gay Picnic planned for June 14 by MoKan CommUNITY Consortium.

I’m proud of the churches who voted to become welcoming and affirming to members of the LGBT community.

I’m proud of those who differ on substantive issues but are willing to peacefully co-exist. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

What will you add to the list?

In closing, I’m proud of my friend in Croatia who wrote this: “To the believers in exile, when you say you love God but are not in church, I’m sad. I want you in church with me.”

Would you like to talk? Contact me at
Marvin G. Baker is the moderator for Gay Christian Fellowship’s Let’s Talk @ LIKEME Lighthouse.

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