Tallahassee’s Pridefest at long last was held back in the downtown area…this time at E. Peck Green Park outside the back entrance to the LeRoy Collins Public Library. There was food, queer folks, and this time a performance from the Mickee Faust Club….although we had to wait for the 30-minute rain delay before we could go on with our part of the show.
It was fun, a lot of fun, to be out amongst “my people”. And for me it started an hour earlier attending the interfaith service at First Presbyterian Church. It was a nice service, some good messages from people who have found faith in God, and a home in the (take your pick: Gentle Shepherd MCC, United Church, Unitarian Universalist) church. I’ll save my discussion about the absence of the Episcopal Church for another time. I was there, and so I felt I was upholding the idea that “The Episcopal Church Welcomes You”…especially if you’re a queer with excellent taste in wine.
I’m glad to have had the chance to be in communion with others who believe in God, and aren’t afraid to be both queer and Christian in Tallahassee, Florida. Which makes this next part of this entry a sad footnote to an otherwise positive wonderful day.
As me and my partner were leaving a local bar that had been, we thought, the establishment of choice for wrapping up PrideFest in Tallahassee, I spied a couple of men in dark dress slacks, white oxford shirts, and ties standing on the corner strategically in front of a church and also close to the two bars which would likely be frequented by the LGBT community this evening. One was unfurling and putting together a banner, the other was holding a megaphone and Bible. And the banner said, on one side, “Trust Jesus” and on the other seemed to have the words “Sinners Repent”.
Gee, didn’t I just write about the scribes with their megaphones and messages of “Repent”?
Fifteen years have past since I saw the banner in DC. And there they were again: the “Christians” who give all the rest of us a bad name. I thought about going across the street to confront them and ask them why two guys would feel the need on a Saturday night to stand on a street corner harassing people who are simply being themselves. Maybe these two men see themselves as the modern day Moses out to warn us to stop worshipping golden calfs and such.
But then I am a believer in the new covenant that God made with me and others through the birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. And Jesus does not ask me to repent the core of my being because the mere fact that I’m gay is not a sin. Behaviors, such as not treating people with respect and dignity and manipulating people in any relationship, especially in intimate relationships…I’m willing to accept that as sinful because that would be counter to the commandments of God. And I know that when I have failed and sinned in some way, the God I believe in doesn’t revoke his promise to me to be with me “always to the end of the age”. God looks for us, waits for us, wants us to come into the discovery of his unending love and stop trying to find the excuses for why we don’t deserve it because we are only deceiving ourselves. And he forgives the sins of anyone who seeks the forgiveness.
So, to the two nattily-attired men with the banner, bible and megaphone, I say this: Trust Jesus. Know that he, not you, knows the true heart that beats inside every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered person and he, not you, is in charge of issuing invitations to the Kingdom of Heaven party house. And now go repent your sin of attempting to place a stumbling block between God’s Children and the Almighty. He’ll be happy to hear you. The operator is standing by.