An ally experiences PRIDE in the CLE

Advocacy and Action for Women’s and Gender Justice

Local events stir thoughts and callings

June is known nationwide as a month in which the LGBTQAI+ community shows their pride in their identities. While many communities celebrate this PRIDE during other times of the year for numerous reasons, Cleveland (airport code CLE, a nickname the entire city has embraced) does so in June. The national ministries team for Gender and Sexuality Justice showed up with rainbow pride and God’s love flowing.

It was an absolute thrill to walk through the grassy malls in downtown Cleveland where the colorful breadth of God’s human creation was celebrating existence and community. With local congregations by our sides, we marched, we talked, we blessed, and we loved. We loved loudly and proudly, as we know God would have us do.

As an ally to this community, meaning that I do not identify as part of it myself but as a supporter who seeks to provide allyship and advocacy for those who do claim this identity, I am proud to be welcomed into this ministry as one of God’s children who will side with my friends, family, and colleagues when they need me to do so. PRIDE in the CLE was a marvelously loving community event at which we celebrated with our United Methodist Church friends who are able to love loudly and boldly after so many years of inauthenticity, we offered support to those who came by our booth who needed comfort, and we shared tears with people who did not know that there was a community that envisioned a God that would not only love them but behold them as divine children worthy of celebration. We wrapped up the weekend with a moving and inspirational worship service at Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Tremont, pictured below.

Readying Pilgrim Congregational UCC in Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland for a PRIDE weekend service. Photo by Sherry Warren

In a complete coincidental happenstance, my city of residence, Akron, Ohio, was celebrating an entirely different event that intersects in some ways. The Sojourner Truth Legacy Plaza was dedicated in late May, honoring the site where Truth first gave her And Ain’t I a Woman? speech. I am reminded that nearly 175 years ago, Truth was challenging the idea of race and gender as she sought suffrage, and PRIDE reminds me that we are still pushing back against limiting ideas of gender, race, intersectional identities, and belonging. My prayer is that we may all feel God’s love and belonging, and live in a time of justice in which we can speak truth to power.

Dr. Sherry Warren, Minister for Women & Gender Justice, United Church of Christ 

Categories: Column Encounters at the Well

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