On Saturday, my daughter, Lena, and I went to Michigan Pride in Lansing. The church is considering participating next year, so we went to see it and decide how we could be a part of it in the future. Lena expressed some concerns about going, “What if people come with guns?”
I offered her reassurance, “I don’t think they will, but if it looks like there is going to be violence, we will leave.”
Lena has some cousins who are out, and her main issue with them coming out has always been concern for their safety.
Saturday morning, we headed downtown. We went to the end of the parade route, in front of the capitol building, where the speakers would be following the parade. Lena took in the people who were gathering. “Mom, look at the way she is dressed!”
I said, “This is somewhere it is safe for people to be themselves and so they dress in ways that they might not ordinarily.”
She continued to watch the people. We saw some friends and went over to talk to them. We cheered as the parade started. There were politicians, various organizations, and an impressive number of churches, including one United Methodist Church, which was a pleasant surprise given the recent General Conference actions.
I could tell Lena was anxious, because she held onto my purse strap so we wouldn’t be separated. We listened to some of the speakers and watched as the children were invited to join one of the speakers on the capitol steps as she talked about them as the future.
Finally, we headed back to our car. Before we reached the corner, Lena was crying. I was a little surprised and asked her what was wrong. “It’s not right! People need to look at their hearts, not what they are wearing. They are people, and they are beautiful inside. God made them!”
As we walked along, I rubbed her back and listened. I told her she had a good heart, and I was proud of her.
As I reflected later that day, I thought about her anxiety about going. Even once we were there, she wasn’t completely comfortable, as evidenced by the tight hold she kept on my purse strap. Yet she was able to look beyond her fear and discomfort and see the image of God in the members of the LGBTQ community.
We could all learn something from her, not just in our approach to the LGBTQ community, but all those with whom we are uncomfortable, whether it be because of their race, religion, or politics. We are all children of God created in the image of God.