Nothing surprised me more than seeing my daughter excited to hand out “come to church” flyers at a gay pride parade. She and her friends even carried the church banner. It seemed so incongruous – Kids? Pride? Church? I couldn’t imagine truculent teenagers would want to do anything as sappy and uncool as march with a church in a big public gathering. So I asked a few of our kids at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., to tell me why, every year, they leap at the chance to walk for hours on hot asphalt. It turned out that I was the one who was uneasy with all that God in public – after all, we’re Episcopalians, God’s frozen people. But we must be doing something right, because those kids led by example. They waved, they carried banners, they handed out fake mustaches and cards that said that God’s table is for everyone. I have celebrated being gay for years, but it wasn’t until I saw those teenagers welcoming thousands by their shouts of joy, that I knew how to proclaim my faith.
It’s a great experience to march with the Gay Pride Parade. Not only do you get to see the floats, but you also get to represent Saint Margaret’s, which is even better. I think it’s amazing when people like our presence. After all these impressive floats, they are cheering for our simple walking, because we’re all there for the same reason.
I love marching in the Pride Parade. It’s a great opportunity to connect with thousands of other people. The feeling that I am filled with is pure bliss.
I can say for certain that I would be hard pressed to remember a time when I was so lovingly embraced and accepted as I had been at D.C. Pride. I was blessed enough to actually be a part of the parade, marching alongside members of St. Margaet’s Episcopal Church. There was an energy surging through the throngs of friends and allies, a pulse that channeled through me which set me radiantly aglow at my very core. It was the first time in my young adult life in which I felt I could be truly vulnerable in the presence of random strangers, and I didn’t feel the need to hide. The support I felt was so palpable and genuine, I had convinced myself for the first time in my life that I truly was beautiful.
There were banks and organizations handing out fliers and parading floats through cheering crowds. The greatest reaction, however, was for the churches marching through. People who had been outsiders at places of worship their whole lives screamed and cheered even louder for St. Margaret’s than the preceding floats. This was all apparent through the look of pure appreciation and happiness for a church following its creed-loving its neighbors as itself.
Farar Elliott is the Senior Warden at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Washington, DC. The other contributors to this post are teenagers proud to be members of St. Margaret’s!