Pride 2013: “I’m Sorry” event

My friend Jamie is the pastor of Little Flowers, an intentional community in Winnipeg’s West end.  This is the second year the community has organized an “I’m Sorry” event for the city’s annual Pride Parade. Unfortunately I couldn’t join them due to a flu, but here are some highlights from the event. (Photos and letter courtesy of Jamie).

Pride 2013

“God loves everyone”
“Please forgive me for using the Bible as a weapon”
“I’m sorry the way the church hurt you”
“Jesus loves you & so do I!”

Pride 2013 2

Loving the fact that some children got involved!

Jamie also received the following note from a stranger:

“Thank you for being there at Pride this year.

I had heard about the movement and had read about it in the news, but I did not at all expect my reaction when I saw you on the sidelines during the march. I read your signs and was hit by tremendous emotion and was moved to tears at the reality of it as I marched by.

After years of being out of the closet and working in both education and advocacy to make the world a better place for all LGBTTQ and allied folks, the impact of the importance of movements like yours hit in a way that I never expected.

I somehow felt a touch of the weight of all that we as humans do to each other that is hurtful – and the importance of doing something positive about it, regardless of who we are and where we stand on any issue.

The power of an apology is amazing and even though I don’t think I have met any of you personally, your presence and willingness to apologize for a history that you have inherited was truly appreciated.

The Pride event is a way for many of us to take pride in who we are and to have a day where we are not overshadowed by the negative impacts of homophobia and other kinds of discrimination and hatred. It’s a day of joy, love, shared freedoms and of letting the positives outweigh the negatives.

Your presence is fabulous. I’m not sure how to fully articulate the complexities of how your actions are not only important at Pride, but also inspiring and indicative of how we all should live through out our lives.

Thank-you and thank-you.”

A powerful message and reminder for why we need more public events of repentance by the church. Let’s get an even better turn out next year!

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4 comments on “Pride 2013: “I’m Sorry” event

  1. I have pretty mixed emotions about this expression. I don’t really voice them because I am not involved in the process and expression itself and I know Jaime thinks carefully and sensitively through these things.
    I can’t help but wonder though, for as many people who respond affirmatively how many, or how many more react to this expression as a traumatic trigger? Do we really need to always get in on the action as Christians? How can we avoid at least the implicit suggestion of forgiveness which then puts it back on their plate (I know, or am assuming, there is no explicit appeal for forgiveness)?
    Shouldn’t our work be elsewhere (and apologies are indeed appropriate) and not run the risk of raining on their parade? Like I said, I would want to talk with more people involved but I am wary of how this comes from our compulsion to try and get our hands into everything, as opposed to simply being one of many participants, not setting ourselves apart?
    How have you processed this Melanie?

    • Kampen says:

      I can sympathize with your concerns and share some apprehensions myself. I think one thing to remember is that no matter what kinds of actions Christians take (whether the good, the bad, or the ugly) they will always be interpreted and perceived in multiple and probably even contradictory ways. That is, we wont satisfy everyone. So, it that is the goal of any kind of Christian action, to finally “get it right,” I think we’re screwed from the start. That being said, I don’t think that is the goal of this kind of action. The way I understand it is as one way (out of the neccesary many and continuous!) of publicly acknowledging a) that the church has deeply hurt and even brutally persecuted non-heterosexuals, and b) that we, who stand there with our signs, aware of the insufficiency of our act, act none the less and repent of our complicity. Ideally, this kind of act creates space for more conversations between hetero and non-hetero Christians and non-Christians. Jennifer’s letter is but one instance of the kind of conversation we can hope for. Additionally, such an act also (in some acses) identifies the church the people are affiliated with as open to LGTBQ or at least some of the people there will know of churches that are and can point people who do want to participate in a worshipping community to one. I think that is important. And one more thing, some of the people standing among the repentant are themselves LGTBQ and Christian. That is also another dynamic (positive I would say) for conversations that might occur on the sidelines of the parade. So, in short, I understand your concerns, but I think ultimately it is an act that must continue, and must continue with constant self-reflection and critique and serious consideration of what it hears from the public or in personal letters like the one here about how it is perceived and interpreted.

  2. Oh wait, the top picture has a sign ‘Please forgive me.’ I might have trouble with that.

  3. I’ll have to think about it some more but it reminds me of the time I wanted to confess my ‘structural sins’ to a First Nations person but did not want to put that responsibility on her. There is always discernment and always risk to be sure. I just think we (Christians) need a larger dose of you-know-maybe-we-are-not-that-important. Certainly something I will continue to reflect on.

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