As a Christian, I have written extensively in this blog on what the Bible really says about homosexuality. I have used other people's studies, my own studies, theologians, historians etc...
Since seeing this photo, a friend of mine had introduced me to more of the story. A man, by the name of Nathan, is the one you see above hugging the gay guy in his underwear, or Tristan rather. Well, Nathan wrote a blog about this day and this moment and what his and his fellow church-goers had done. Here is what he had to say:
I hugged a man in his underwear. I think Jesus would have too.
I spent the day at Chicago’s Pride Parade. Some friends and I, with The Marin Foundation, wore shirts with “I’m Sorry” written on it. We had signs that said, “I’m sorry that Christians judge you,”
“I’m sorry the way churches have treated you,”
“I used to be a bible-banging homophobe, sorry.”
We wanted to be an alternative Christian voice from the protestors that were there speaking hate into megaphones.
What I loved most about the day is when people “got it.” I loved watching people’s faces as they saw our shirts, read the signs, and looked back at us. Responses were incredible. Some people blew us kisses, some hugged us, some screamed thank you. A couple ladies walked up and said we were the best thing they had seen all day. I wish I had counted how many people hugged me. One guy in particular softly said, “Well, I forgive you.”
Watching people recognize our apology brought me to tears many times. It was reconciliation personified.
My favorite though was a gentleman who was dancing on a float. He was dressed solely in white underwear and had a pack of abs like no one else. As he was dancing on the float, he noticed us and jokingly yelled, “What are you sorry for? It’s pride!” I pointed to our signs and watched him read them.
Then it clicked.
Then he got it.
He stopped dancing. He looked at all of us standing there. A look of utter seriousness came across his face. And as the float passed us he jumped off of it and ran towards us. In all his sweaty beautiful abs of steal, he hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”
Before I had even let go, another guy ran up to me, kissed me on the cheek, and gave me the biggest bear hug ever. I almost had the wind knocked out of me; it was one of those hugs.
This is why I do what I do. This is why I will continue to do what I do. Reconciliation was personified.
I think a lot of people would stop at the whole “man in his underwear dancing” part. That seems to be the most controversial. It’s what makes the evening news. It’s the stereotype most people have in their minds about Pride.
Sadly, most Christians want to run from such a sight rather than engage it. Most Christian won’t even learn if that person dancing in his underwear has a name. Well, he does. His name is Tristan.
However, I think Jesus would have hugged him too. It’s exactly what I read throughout scripture: Jesus hanging out with people that religious people would flee from. Correlation between then and now? I think so.
Acceptance is one thing. Reconciliation is another. Sure at Pride, everyone is accepted (except perhaps the protestors). There are churches that say they accept all. There are business that say the accept everyone. But acceptance isn’t enough. Reconciliation is.
But there isn’t always reconciliation. And when there isn’t reconciliation, there isn’t full acceptance. Reconciliation is more painful; it’s more difficult. Reconciliation forces one to remember the wrongs committed and relive constant pain. Yet it’s more powerful and transformational because two parties that should not be together and have every right to hate one another come together for the good of one another, for forgiveness, reconciliation, unity.
What I saw and experienced at Pride 2010 was the beginning of reconciliation. It was in the shocked faces of gay men and women who did not ever think Christians would apologize to them.
What I saw and experienced at Pride 2010 was the personification of reconciliation. It was in the hugs and kisses I received, in the “thank you’s” and waves, in the smiles and kisses blown.
I hugged a man in his underwear. I hugged him tightly. And I am proud.
THIS is truly heart-warming. I am crying as I write this because I am proud of this man and his willingness to share what he believes, despite the criticism he may receive. After this, even more came together to keep this story going. Someone had recognized Tristan from the photo, and Tristan got in touch with Nathan. These two shared how this moment meant so much for each of them, and that is what’s remarkable. One person meets another, and for each of them, this was a lasting experience and memory.
What a wonderful story! This is what I believe Christianity is all about. This is what I believe Jesus Christ would do. He would not discriminate. He would tell them of His love.