This past Sunday, in spite of the sweltering heat, Episcopalians from across the diocese gathered together at the Republican parking lot between Cherry and James to join in Seattle’s 2017 Pride Parade. The 50-60 people who gathered came from St. Margaret, Bellevue; St. John, Kirkland; Trinity, Seattle; Christ Church, Seattle; Saint Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle; St. Luke, Sequim; Christ Church, Tacoma; St. John the Baptist, West Seattle; and St. Andrew, Seattle. The marchers ranged in age from 18 months old to 70 and up, and included people of all genders, shapes, sizes, and backgrounds.
The atmosphere was fun and joyous, a time for fellowship with fellow Episcopalians eager to spread that joy to everyone they encountered – from those they waited with in the staging area to the people they marched past as the parade was underway. As they waited for the parade to begin, the time together as community allowed for deeper connections between fellow parishioners and a chance to share personal stories of painful rejection by other religious communities, as well as the grace, love, and acceptance found in their new communities in the Episcopal church.
Sue Mings of St. Margaret, Bellevue coordinated the diocese’s involvement in the parade in conjunction with Integrity, USA, a nonprofit organization of LGBTQIA Episcopalians advocating for the full inclusion of LGBTQIA persons within the Episcopal Church. For Sue, the participation of our diocese in activities that celebrate the LGBTQIA experience is essential.
“It’s important as a gay person who couldn’t imagine a church accepting me for who I am until I showed up at St. Margaret’s (almost by accident) the year I turned 50. 50 years is a long time to hear a relentless message that God hates you. I am not the only gay person who has heard this all their life. Older people have heard it even louder and stronger; younger people have to notice the discrimination and hate directed at them by society and many religious institutions. It’s made such a difference in my life to find a place in the Episcopalian church that not only welcomes me as I am, but more importantly through their consistent, loving actions has convinced me that God loves me as I am, too. I so want to let other gays and lesbians — and any marginalized people, honestly, even though I don’t know their experience personally — know that there is such a church and such a God. I want every good thing that’s come to me through the Episcopalian church to happen to anyone else who’s seeking it (whether they know they are or not). One way to let seekers, and the marginalized, and on Pride weekend especially LBGTQIA folks know that such a love, and such a God, is available is to show up and reach out.
“It’s important to walk Jesus’ talk of loving our neighbor — welcoming each exactly as they are — and that’s exactly what this Episcopalian contingent does in the Pride Parade.”