V2_Pride graphic_web

Pride Month Reflection 2024

As I pause to celebrate and remember during this month of 2SLGBTQIA+ pride, I feel both encouraged by the opportunities our community is now afforded thanks to the brave individuals who paved the way before us, and burdened with the many more challenges we face on a daily basis.

Even in this modern age, the news is filled with stories of anger and violence towards people trying to express themselves openly, regardless of their community alliance. Instead of forming a united, human expression of God’s self in this world, groups of individuals find enough common ground to stand firm against their neighbour for any number of reasons. We, in human nature, tend to operate as if love is a precious commodity that only a few should enjoy.

As the Queer and Trans Student Representative on the VST Student Association Exec Board and an MDiv student at VST, I’m often faced with my own questions of how we, belonging to the human, God-mirrored community, can act more from a place of unity rather than division. Thankfully, I can call upon those who have gone before me and those who live with us to help provide guidance.

St. Symeon the New Theologian, a Byzantine monk and mystic who lived around the 2nd century CE, says that to find God within us, one should “lower your head, shut your eyes, breathe out gently and imagine yourself looking into your own heart. Carry your mind, that is, your thoughts, from your head to your heart.”

Imagine if we practiced this exercise, only to open our eyes to see that yes, like Jesus, we saw God everywhere! Our differences would melt away simply because we would recognize God in all we encounter, finding nothing to delineate our differences.

In a more modern take, I’m constantly inspired by the younger generation who speak to us in a variety of ways. One day, my music mix delightfully landed on the young, gender queer, non-binary vocal artist Semler who spoke to me through their song “Be Like Jesus.”

Semler is an alt-Christian artist, whose father is an Episcopal priest. Through this song, Semler whispers to our modern ears that they “wanna be like Jesus, I don’t wanna be like them [unaccepting Christians]. I wanna look out for who needs me and hang out with my twelve best friends.”

Through their message, I find a refreshing reminder that we, as modern Christians, should always remain alert to barriers we create within our own community.

During this month of pride, I lean into the countless individuals who both inspire me with their messages and reminders, and those who have given their lives so that I may wear my wedding ring and live comfortably with my husband.

I also accept the confronting challenge of division and counter that challenge with the love I draw upon as God within each of us. We have an opportunity to be proud to shine God’s image to the world. May God grant us the mercy and courage to hold our mirrors up high and celebrate our human unity.

—Geoff Clark-Tosca