Celebrating LGBTQ Pride in Your Congregation

What is LGBTQ Pride?

The Stonewall Riots (or Stonewall Uprising) were a series of violent confrontations between police and the LGBTQ community in the early hours of the morning on June 28, 1969, outside of the Stonewall Inn. At the time, bars were one of very few places where LGBTQ people were able to gather together, and they were frequently raided by police and vice squads, subjecting LGBTQ people to ongoing harassment, police brutality, and arrest.

Fed up with the years of violence and mistreatment, early on the morning of June 28th, the patrons of the Stonewall Inn fought back, rioting against the police. Many credit Black, butch lesbian and famous drag king Stormé DeLarverie with incensing the crowd to confront the police brutality. The riots lasted for hours with LGBTQ people facing off against police in riot gear.

Stonewall was neither the beginning of the LGBTQ movement nor the first instance of LGBTQ people directly confronting the police. In 1966, drag queens, hustlers, and transgender and other gender non-conforming patrons at Compton’s Cafeteria in San Francisco rioted against police mistreatment. Also in 1966, LGBTQ activists protested police violence at the Black Cat bar in Los Angeles and challenged the prohibition against serving alcohol to LGBTQ patrons at New York’s Julius bar.

Still, Stonewall did come to mark an important turning point in the LGBTQ movement. The following year, LGBTQ people in New York City commemorated the riots with a demonstration they called “Christopher Street Liberation Day,” marching through the city streets. In the years to come, LGBTQ Pride marches spread throughout the country, and today, LGBTQ Pride is celebrated in communities worldwide—including many communities of faith.

How Will You Observe Pride?

LGBTQ Pride is an opportunity for your faith community to commit to deeper education, prayer, and action around LGBTQ justice and liberation. Many LGBTQ Pride marches take place during the last weekend of June, but check with your local community to see when yours is planned. There are many meaningful ways your faith community can observe Pride.

Prayer

  • Incorporate the theme of LGBTQ Pride into your worship service
  • Celebrate the LGBTQ people in your faith community, and/or those who have made history in your denomination
  • Offer a blessing to LGBTQ people (or, invite LGBTQ people to offer a blessing onto the community)
  • Say a prayer or a responsive reading in honor of Pride (examples below)

Education

  • Sponsor an event celebrating LGBTQ Pride
  • Host a listening session in your congregation, inviting your LGBTQ members to share their stories
  • Invite a local activist or leader to address your faith community
  • Learn about issues facing your local LGBTQ community
  • Hold an adult education class on LGBTQ Pride and/or queer theology (see reading list below)

Action

  • Participate in your local Pride march (e.g. hosting a booth, marching in the parade, volunteering, etc.)
  • Raise money for or volunteer with local LGBTQ organizations
  • Write an op-ed or a letter to your local newspaper about why your religious community is celebrating Pride
  • Identify concrete needs of your local LGBTQ community, and commit to taking action to meet those needs

Pride Responsive Reading

Reader: As we celebrate LGBTQ Pride month, we are grateful for the gift of our lives and the gift of others in our lives.
All: Each of us is created with dignity and worth.

Reader: We are called to love each other and to do nothing to others that we would find hateful to ourselves.
All: We honor the many ways that people live and love.

Reader: We repent for the times when our faith traditions have named lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people unworthy.
All: Love does not exclude. We are all worthy.

Reader: We suffer when LGBTQ persons are oppressed, excluded, and shamed by religious people who overlook the fundamental call to justice in our scriptures.
All: True justice flourishes when we can live with authenticity and integrity.

Reader: May we work to build a community where LGBTQ people are celebrated as full and equal members, recognizing their many gifts.
All: We celebrate sexual and gender diversity as a blessing that enriches us all.

LGBTQ Pride Bulletin Insert

LGBTQ Pride Reading List

Religious Institute Publications on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity