President Obama proclaimed June LGBT Pride Month Friday --- and I swiped a photo (without permission, sorry) from my Facebook friend, Harvey's, page this morning to celebrate. Cedar Rapids jumped the pride gun ever so slightly. CrPride events were held there Saturday. There will be similar celebrations elsewhere in Iowa --- Des Moines, Iowa City, the Quad Cities --- later in the month.
While I'd have loved to have been in Cedar Rapids Saturday, I was busy living the gay lifestyle to its fullest here --- mowing the damned lawn before it rained again.
Iowans in general have a lot to celebrate, including the fact we're marking the fifth year of marriage equality here. It's also illegal to deny housing, service or employment opportunity here to someone just because he or she is gay; gay couples may adopt. The same protections are not afforded in more than half the states.
But it's useful to remember that same-sex activity wasn't decriminalized in Iowa until 1978, less than 40 years ago. On the other hand, Iowans still were well ahead of 2003's Lawrence v. Texas.
President Obama has issued a similar proclamation every year since he took office; President Clinton did so during the last two years of his administration. Nothing during the Bush years, of course.
Pride celebrations are scheduled during June to commemorate the Stonewall riots, which commenced during the early morning of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, a bar in New York City's Greenwich Village. Although little noted in the mainstream media of the time, LGBT people --- with drag queens at the fore (one reason why we love them) --- stood up and fought. This generally is considered the pivotal event in the drive for LGBT equality.
Some straight folks still are cranky about gay pride and pride events. Get over it. Every day is a straight pride parade --- so give us a month for a few celebrations of our own. You're welcome to join in.
Some of us will be going to church this morning, the first day of Pride Month --- and that's actually kind of rare among LGBT folks. Gay folks learned long ago that institutional Christianity is for the most part hollow, noisy when rattled but dried up inside and more attuned to angry tribal gods and bizarre patriarchial hierarchies --- than to the guy from whom the title "Christian" is derived.
But there are many exceptions, and we'll celebrate them, too: the Metropolitan Community Church, organized by gay people for gay people at a time when no church would have us; the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ, which led the way among progressive protestants; the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and some Presbyterians. And scattered congregations among the United Methodists, the Disciples of Church and a few others, too.
In general, however, church still is not a safe place for LGBT people to be, including in places like Lucas County. I'm proud, during Pride Month and at other times, to be a member of The Episcopal Church, where the welcome is not followed by, "but ...."
It makes me happy when gay Christians persevere and if you're headed for a welcoming church this morning, well done. This is not mandatory; claims to the contrary, magic salvation pills are not the church's to dispense. But maybe we can help put "Christ" back in "Christian," orthopraxy vs. orthodoxy, just like we've helped put a little pride into June.