Living today in New York City, my hometown of Calhoun, Georgia, often feels far away.
But when I go home for the holidays and spend time with my friends and family, I’m easily transported back to my childhood, revisiting the house and the town where I spent my most awkward teenaged years willfully ignoring my crushes on girls.
As a kid, I spent every possible moment at my Southern Baptist Church, which was known around town as “the big rock church.”
I was an active member of the Youth Group, attending everything from Sunday School and Youth Choir, to mission trips and Vacation Bible School. As far as I know, I was the first person to ever play an electric guitar from the choir loft! Though I balked when someone complained, I quickly switched back to my more palatable acoustic.
I could joke that I’ve always been a rebel, but the truth is, I was a good kid who desperately wanted to be accepted by my Christian community. And in that world, at that time, my sexual orientation was something I was sure would separate me from God’s love.
In Calhoun, Georgia, my queer identity was far beyond the realm of possibility.
This weekend, I marched down Fifth Avenue to celebrate Pride with Believe Out Loud, Intersections International, and the Collegiate Churches of New York.
Surrounded by my partner, coworkers, and friends, our group waved our rainbow signs as we sang and danced to the music of Middle Church’s Jerriese Johnson Gospel Choir. We marched with joy with one purpose—to proclaim God’s love for LGBTQ people.
My journey from Calhoun to New York, from the closet to Pride, never ceases to amaze me. And I know this journey wouldn’t be possible without the witness of LGBTQ people, and especially LGBTQ Christians, who came before me.
And this is precisely why I celebrate Pride.
I celebrate Pride not only because I’m proud of who I’ve become, but also because I know first hand that hearing stories of proud LGBTQ Christians can change lives.
I know first hand that our stories can open a world of possibility for kids like me growing up in places like Calhoun, Georgia. And I know first hand how important it is to be assured of God’s love for all.
So this year, I marched proudly down Fifth Avenue proclaiming the good news of God’s expansive love.
I marched to spread the good news of identities beyond imagination and pride beyond possibility.
I marched to be a witness to love beyond belief in a world that so desprately needs the good news of hope.
Photo by Alison Amyx