Christians at Pride in Brighton
On August 3rd this year, about 60 of us, clergy and mixed congregations, walked together behind our banner ‘Christians at Pride.’
The banner had particular significance because it had been around the country at other Pride events, and after we had used it, we passed it on to Southampton for their celebration.
The weather was perfect, overcast and not too hot, and the crowds came out in their thousands. There was an atmosphere of carnival and fun, with the loud music, dancing, and general excitement.
But, why do we do it? We do it to be present and to be a witness to the truth of the Gospel being for everyone, fully inclusive, no exceptions or excuses. In fact, walking at Pride is incarnational. There will have been many along the road who have had at least very mixed views about the church, or indeed, very negative views, seeing it as a condemning and finger-wagging organisation, critical, rather than supportive of same sex love and relationship. There was even a Christian protest group on our route. There will have been others who see the Church as irrelevant to their lives, and at best a quaint anomaly.
There were an estimated 400,000 people at Pride this year, the biggest number ever. A member of the clergy walking with me said, “where would Jesus be?’ The answer we came to was ‘here’, exactly where people were. So the significance of waving, sharing high-fives, laughing and walking along together, took on a different, more profound meaning. St Francis of Assisi is said to have instructed his followers to ‘preach the Gospel, using words where necessary.‘ So, this was an occasion of preaching the Gospel without words, but with presence.
We won’t know what impact we had on the people we passed; and really, thats none of our business, but some people mouthed the words ‘thank you’ and one or two others asked for a blessing. The crowd were encouraging and supportive of us being there. We say at every Eucharist ‘we are one body.‘ On that day in August, it was not a question of ‘us and them’ but of us really being ‘one body’ together.
With our banner ‘Christians at Pride’, it was not too fanciful to say that together with the 400,000, we were Christ at Pride. Where would Jesus be? Well, we knew the answer to that
Nigel Nash, MBE, Trustee