Are Gay Pride parades bad for gay Christians?

Derek Ouellette —  February 7, 2013

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am very thankful to be a heterosexual. I can’t imagine what it would be like growing up in a solid, non-abusive, healthy conservative Christian home, having been raised with black and white convictions about sin and – in particular – about homosexuality, only to discover as you hit puberty, that you are not attracted to girls at all, but to guys.

It is hard not to feel wrenched at this kind of statement:

“I would sit in Wheaton’s prayer chapel, staring at the cross, and beg God to please just let me be attracted to girls.”

So said a man who went by the pseudonym Jordan in a recent (Feb-Mar) Christianity Today (CT) article titled “Hope for the Gay Undergrad.” Many gays, says the article have a long and lonely battle to face. They are captured by fear that if they tell their Christian brethren of their orientation, that they will be judged. Some feel compelled to leave their faith, others join liberal branches and embraced the gay lifestyle. Still others have chosen to live celibate lives and few have even committed suicide, explains the article.

When I read stories like Jordan’s, or like Justin Lee’s (read Torn), I find my biases, my naive assumptions, my black-and-white blinders are rapidly eroding. In their place is sympathy, nah, empathy even, in so far as it is possible.

Jordan said that one of the reasons he “hesitated to identify with the gay community” was that he perceived them to be “flamboyant and sex-obsessed.” Indeed that is my perception too, and gay pride parades do little to change that impression. In this regard I wonder if the “gay community” is damaging their own cause. I’m referring, of course, to those who don’t want to be perceived as a flamboyant sex-crazed deviant.

A final observation I’d like to make is in reference to what William Struthers, author of Wired for Intimacy, says according to the CT article. To quote it:

“He said that the traditional labels (such as gay or straight) concerning sexual orientation are outdated and inaccurate. ‘Human sexuality is a lot more complex than four or five letters.'”

It’s true. Every time the subject of homosexuality comes up a deeper, far more troubling question lurks in the back of my mind. “Never mind people who say they are attracted to the same-sex, what about those who are born with parts from both sexes?” (I believe the technical term is intersex or hermaphrodite.) To my mind the fact that some people are born with parts from both sexes destroys any lingering arguments against the idea that a person can be born gay.

Do you think Gay Pride parades are good or bad for gay Christians?

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • JM Smith

    And what of those who are born and grow up only being sexually attracted to prepubescent children?

    I’ve never heard this addressed in the same vein as other innate or deep-seated sexual orientation, but they exist…as many of our prisons could attest.

    • Martin Jacobson

      The difference is that gay people are not just looking for sex, just as straight people are not just looking for sex. We want relationship and companionship, just like everyone else. The person who abuses children is not in a fulfilling relationship. So let’s stop this comparison. It is insulting.

    • Derek Ouellette

      JM, I think you’re right. I read an article some time back (and I don’t remember where or who wrote it, so if you do I’d love it if you could share the link). It discussions the recent research into pedophilia which suggests that some men may be orientated toward children just as some men are orientated toward other men. A pedophilian may not be, after all, people just looking for sex.

  • Martin Jacobson

    Derek, just as you had some misconceptions about what it means to be gay, you may have some misconceptions about what a gay pride parade is all about. If you’ve never been to one and are relying on media portrayals, just remember that sex sells and the media are going to show most over-the-top people. I’m one of those gay Christians who joined an accepting denomination (about which you may have some misconceptions as well), and our church has a float in the pride parade every year. People come up to us in tears because they didn’t believe that there was a church out there that would accept them. So I believe just the opposite–gay pride parades are exactly where gay Christians need to be.

    Remember what they said about Jesus. He hung out with all of the wrong people. So what would Jesus do? He’d be at the pride parade.

  • Wade

    Important thoughts, Derek. I have gradually moved beyond the black and white answers of my fundamentalist upbringing. The whole nature vs. nurture debate presupposes a simple answer to a very complex question. The conservative view that homosexuality is a choice ignores the myriad other ways that brokenness is inborn. If a person can be born with Cerebral Palsy, various congenital conditions, or inherited medical conditions like Sickle Cell Anemia, why is it so unthinkable that someone would be born with a same sex orientation. God has a plan for our sexual orientation and the way that we express it. Alan Chambers in his article “Holy Sexuality, (Batman)” addresses some of these questions. This “holy sexuality” goes beyond the categories of heterosexual and homosexual, to address the concept that holiness is the key component. Read the article if you haven’t already done so.

    • Derek Ouellette

      I read that article. It was excellent. Thanks for reminding me about it.

  • Kevin Reagan

    Derek, I hope you’re not starting to “cave” here. People who experience same-sex attraction and are followers of Christ do, indeed, have a difficult cross to bear. But let’s not get confused here. Every human is born into sin. In this sense, it’s genetic. In fact, if you look into the area of epigenetics and think about sinful inclinations, sin may very well BE genetic. Bottom line: the proclivities and temptations we experience toward various flavors of sin are deep-seated and difficult to overcome. And to the degree that we indulge the temptations, the neurochemical pathways in our brains become increasingly “set” physiologically — making it even harder to overcome what can easily develop into an area of besetting sin. As someone who formerly self-identified as gay, I get uncomfortable when Christians start to “cave” on the issue because they sympathize/empathize to the point that they start to think that perhaps same-sex attracted people should be able to act on their inclinations in the context of a commited, loving, monogamous, Christ-centered relationship with someone of the same sex. And the intersex issue is completely another matter. It is a widely varying, congenital, physical issue involving what the medical community now calls a Disorder of Sexual Development. And it’s not to be confused with transgenderism or transsexuality, which is when subjective fantasy overtakes objective reality and a person thinks their biological sex is something it’s not. All situations require our love, compassion, support and grace. And lots of prayer for the affected individuals as well as our ongoing response to them.

    • Derek Ouellette

      To be clear Kevin, I make a distinction between same-sex attraction and homosexual activity. I’ve written about this here: Gay Christianity

  • Judy Montgomery Chartrand

    Derek, I have now read two of your articles, and as a devoted follower of God, and his word, I feel that you are letting your spiritual guard down. You are now saturating your mind with what man has said, and not God’s word.
    Hermaphrodites, are born with a genetic birth defect, which is abnormal, but still they are either a dominant female or male, and can grow up to live healthy natural lives. Humans sin, living unhealthy lives, which can bring on these types of abnormalities to future offsprings. We don’t really know why it happens, but God NEVER intended for any one to be gay, if so, he is a liar, it means his word is not true. And if that is so, how do we even know if God even exist.

    Which in return means the Holy Scripture indeed was written by men. and not inspired by a God. The one thing that Scripture says, that tells me it is so, is that something divided against itself cannot stand. Evil and good never unite with one another, it is impossible. When something natural meets something unnatural it cannot co-exist together.

    Adultery, well most of us have lust in our hearts, it is easy to slip into adultery, but God says it is immoral behavior, and we do not do this because it is good, we do it because our behavior is ungodly. God says a husband is to have one wife. There is no rationalizing sin. Whether it be homosexuality, adultery, sodomy, incest…..etc. We do not turn someone way because of their sin, we are to help them. We cannot allow people to feel that their sin is okay, and that God will not judge them for it, because God will judge all who continue to live in sin. As one person said, God will forgive us, and restore us, but living in continual sinful behavior reveals the absents of God in our life.

    At times I wonder why we even bother to debate sin, period. We need to just plainly follow God’s teaching. It is absolute truth, and it is clear, also teaching us the the heart of the law is love, we are to show mercy, and compassion to others, as God gives to us, we are not to judge, for that is for God to do, but as servants we are to speak the truth.

    • Derek Ouellette

      While I appreciate the concern Judy, I submit – as a conservative Bible believing evangelical Christian in the holiness tradition – that I have not let my guard down. The scriptures are my guiding light and I maintain to what the Bible teaches to be sin – the ACT of homosexuality. But I am also careful not to add to God’s word what is not there.

      Frankly, we Christians need to think more carefully about this subject if we are to help people who struggle in this area.

      Thanks for the comments.

  • Ford1968

    Hi Derek –

    I hopped over here from your link on RHE’s comments about Torn and have been looking around. As a Christian who is gay, I don’t agree with your perspectives on the sinfulness of covenant homosexual relationships; but I REALLY appreciate your tone and your sincere desire to understand your gay neighbors.

    I have to weigh in on this post, though. I certainly understand why in-your-face displays of sexuality are off-putting. But I have two observations for you:

    1. Every gay pride parade I have ever attended (I’m in NYC) is far from being all about go-go boys. Parade walkers include parents and grandparents, churches and other faith groups, corporate affinity groups, politicians and political groups (both democrat and republican), widowers of the AIDS crisis…and the list goes on and on. All fully clothed, these groups also receive enthusiastic support from the onlookers (well…except for the Log Cabin Republicans maybe).

    2. If an annual pride parades give you the impression that people who are gay are flamboyant and sex obsessed, what impressions do annual Mardi Gras parades give you about straight people preparing for lent?

    I’d suggest that you may be looking at pride parades through the filter of your prejudice.

    All my best to you,


    • Derek Ouellette

      Hey Ford, thanks for visiting this site and poking around. Someone on Twitter made similar remarks about Gay Pride parades where they are from. I admitted there, as I will here, that I’ve never actually attended one. My perception is based on popular media outlets. Next time there is a Gay Pride parade here in my own city I’ll endeavour to attend so that I can have first hand experience of one of them.

      You bring up an interesting point with Mardi Gras. The comparison is worth highlighting. My impression of Mardi Gras is the same as my impression of Gay Pride parades. Just as I’ve never attended a Gay Pride parade, so also I’ve never attended Mardi Gras. Therefore, I don’t think it can be said that I’m looking at Gay Pride parades through the filter of my prejudice. I don’t approve of Mardi Gras and I don’t think I’m prejudice against heterosexuals!

      • Ford1968

        Just a clarification and then I’ll leave you alone (I promise;)

        If when you look at a Mardi Gras parade you simply say “I don’t approve”, why do you look at gay pride parades and say that they reinforce your perception that people who are gay are sex obsessed?

        Why do you assign negative stereotypes to the latter group but not the former?

        Please don’t perpetuate the lie that the “gay lifestyle” is all about sexual promiscuity. My husband and I thank you in advance for your consideration.

        • Derek Ouellette

          Jordan is a gay Christian who made that statement, and yes, I shared his impression. The difference between Gay Pride parades and Mardi Gras is that Gay Pride parades are about celebrating a Gay sexual orientation specifically. That’s why. Our society by and large is sex obsessed, revealed in Mardi Gras which is one of the reasons I don’t approve of it (a negative connotation). Ford, I feel now you are twisting things and getting upset. Nowhere am I perpetuating the lie that the gay lifestyle is all about sexual promiscuity. I don’t even like the term “gay lifestyle” and I try not to use it.