Please Note: This post attempts to be respectful of both my friends who are part of the Pride community and my friends who struggle with it. Sometimes when we try to be respectful to everyone, we upset both sides… so I guess either way it’ll be unifying, but hopefully it’s respectful. I really just want everyone to get along like a typical conflict avoider… I mean as a loving person.
The problem with giving a group a dedicated month like Pride being given June is it sets them up for backlash (I’ll explain why shortly). If you really want people to accept a group who have historically faced oppression, you don’t give them a dedicated month, you give them a holiday. For instance, am I passionate about English royalty? Nope, but I love May long weekend, so cheers to them. In regards to Pride, I don’t care how homophobic someone is, if they get a paid day off work – Yea for Gay! How could you be angry? (angry person) “I get a day off to be with my family who loves me? This day is the worst!” How many people who aren’t Christian hate Christmas? (non Christian) “We get a day off to do whatever we want while other people are stuck seeing family they don’t like? Thanks for the day, suckas!” If you want everyone to embrace Pride, give everyone a reason. Give everyone something to enjoy. Personally, I don’t care who you are even the Irish (part of my own heritage), if you have a parade like they do in Chicago and make me get stuck in traffic, I’m not going to like you in that moment; I really hate being stuck in traffic, especially on a Saturday when I have a list of things I’m trying to get done. If you give me a day off? Have the parade of your life! Shut the whole city down. Celebrate and enjoy yourselves as much as you want because it’s a free day where I won’t have anything else to do but relax. As a parent, weekends are a time to cram everything in, so my patience is low, but on a holiday, I’m as patient and accepting as I can be… at least as patient as I can be helping watch a baby who cries most of the day.
Anyone who understands human nature will get why giving a group a designated month is foolish. For starters, whenever you put someone on a pedestal, you put a target on their back. Anyone who has worked in leadership from store management to teachers to pastors knows being in this elevated position puts a target on you. By giving Pride a month, you are essentially putting that community on a pedestal, which also means you’re putting a target on them. I’m not saying this is right (I’m not an idiot); I’m just saying that this is human nature. When I was a youth pastor, as much as I loved being in leadership and being visible, I faced a lot more backlash than if I was hidden, which is why a lot of people prefer the background. If someone is on a pedestal, it can feel like they’re looking down on you and gloating (even if they’re not). In our attempt to encourage a group, it shouldn’t be in a way that leaves another side feeling looked down on or brushed aside because then you get backlash like angry people burning Pride flags. Again, I’m not saying this is right, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that there has been backlash. If we want unity, we should want all parties to be happy or at least as happy as possible – that’s why I say there should be a holiday that benefits everyone. In a perfect world this holiday would celebrate all of our differences (e.g. people of Pride, people with disabilities, people who are part of religious groups, people with weird hobbies, etc.). If we are all different, in that, we are also all the same – we need unity.
This idea connects to what I call the Backstreet Boy Effect. Back when BSB were huge (aka the good old days), for everyone who loved them, someone else hated them. Now that they’re irrelevant, no one cares. In fact, people who hated them might hear one of their old songs and not mind it now because of the nostalgia factor. And yes, I’m well aware that I could’ve used any other once popular band, but as someone who went to three BSB concerts, I have a sense of loyalty. And yes, I know being a straight man, it’s unexpected that I would have gone to three BSB concerts, let alone admit it, but I’m old with kids, so I’ve given up trying to look cool… although I arguably never cared about being cool, which is why I was a BSB fan in the first place.
Considering the Backstreet Boy Effect, the more attention we give any group, the more likely they are going to feel backlash. With all the attention the Pride community is given in the media lately and flags flying, people who normally wouldn’t care are at risk of rolling their eyes or being more aggressive in their opinions. This is how it works when things are pushed on people: Some will take whatever you give them; some fight back when anything is forced on them; and some will take whatever you give them for so long until they snap and hurt someone whether the person that originally upset them or someone else who is simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. I’m not saying this is right, but I am saying this is human nature, and we need to be careful how we treat others because we fuel their behaviors. The same thing happens in marriage – we fuel our partner’s behaviors.
We also need to recognize that people don’t like being told what to do. It’s no different than when you walk by a house and you tell a group of people not to look in a certain window; there are some who will obey, but there will be others who are going to have to look because they always do the opposite of what they’re told. Some people are naturally rebellious: (leader) “You should respect Pride.” (rebellious person) “Um, I did, but now that you’re telling me I have to, I’m going to rethink this.” Instead of arresting people for burning Pride flags, maybe we should consider this a sign that something needs to change. If Pride is about celebrating the lives of people who have felt extreme rejection and hurt, maybe we should do it in a way that doesn’t cause a feeling of rejection and hurt (i.e. anger is an expression of fear and hurt, so if people burn flags, it means there’s fear and hurt). I believe we should find a way for all of us to get along and not just try to control people into thinking the way we do. Isn’t that kind of the point of Pride?
What this really comes down to is favoritism never brings healing. This concept can be used in any situation because when has one person being given special treatment ever led to equality? When has a parent treating one child better than another ever led to the siblings being best friends? This is the main source of conflict in blended families as parents have to try to balance treating their biological kids in fairness with the step children – that’s a mess I never want to have to deal with in my personal life. By definition, favoritism negates equality. Without equality, how can there be unity? Favoritism creates division, and division creates resentment, and resentment creates a high risk for bad choices being made that makes the situation all the worse.
The concept of favoritism being so damaging is one of the earliest lessons in recorded human history. Over 3500 years ago, the story of Joseph that was used to make Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is believed to have taken place. In this story, Jacob (the foolish father) gives special treatment to his son, Joseph, because he was the first born from Rachel, the wife whom he gave special treatment to over his other wife, Leah. Yes, it was a polygamist relationship that proved why polygamy is stupid. In a blatant expression of favoritism, Joseph was given a fancy coat while his brothers received nothing. Eventually fed up with the unfairness, the brothers sold Joseph into slavery and told their dad he was eaten by a lion. Fortunately, there was a happy ending to this story… or there was until Jacob ruined it by showing favoritism again as he gave Joseph a double portion of his blessing. Even on his death bed, Jacob was foolish.
This topic of favoritism is so important, it serves as a foundational story for the rest of the Bible as it happens in Genesis shortly after the Murder of Abel by Cain (Lucifer fans will like that reference), Noah’s Ark, and Abraham starting the Jewish and Islamic lines. Despite this, we still don’t seem to grasp how damaging the concept is because it’s everywhere in our world. All of the racism stuff in the US? Problems with favoritism. Why are Israel and Palestine fighting? Problems of favoritism and the hurt both sides feel from it. Why do so many children hate their siblings or parents? Problems with favoritism.
Favoritism never brings healing; it creates hurt and resentment. At least with a single holiday, people can unite in their appreciation of a group rather than feel the division it creates because there is benefit to all.
This week may you consider how you can avoid the trap of favoritism.
Rev Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people (like me)