It was a joy and blessing to be able to attend PRIDEFEST 2023 in Morgan Hill on June 1! The Pride Month kickoff and flag-raising was exciting, inspiring and hopeful.  

Exciting because of the energy in the air and on the lawn at the Morgan Hill Civic Center. Children, grandparents, pets, neighbors, city officials and clergy greeted one another with hugs, handshakes and fist bumps. 

Inspiring because we got to hear from a diverse group of youth, young adults and not so young adults explain what the colors on the Progress Pride flag stood for and share a little of their own amazing stories that included heartbreak and healing and courage. 

Hopeful because their stories are being told, and people are listening and learning and celebrating together!  

At the core of this wonderful event was love—loving and being loved. It breaks my heart to know that, in the name of Christianity, so many people in the LGBTQI+ community have been hurt by the church. They are told over and over that they are not accepted, they are not welcome, they are wrong, God doesn’t approve of their “lifestyle” or “choice,” or even worse, God doesn’t love them.  

In the Episcopal tradition we have the Baptismal Covenant that we renew corporately at certain times in the liturgical year but are called to live it out in our personal lives at all times. In it we promise “to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves.” We promise “to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” And most importantly, we acknowledge that we need God’s help to accomplish them.  

As a white, Christian clergywoman of privilege, with five black children, some of whose gender identity is represented on the Pride flag that we proudly raised at the Civic Center, I was deeply grateful to see that more and more people in Morgan Hill are openly supporting one another with courageous love. Loving all people matters to me, and I might not be all that great at it all the time, but I keep striving.  

After all, Jesus did say, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” (John 13:34, NRSV).   

The Reverend Karen Cuffie is Rector at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church in Morgan Hill and is an active participant in the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. She can be contacted at [email protected].

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