June 8, 2016
By Angelica Walker
This Sunday, Downtown Pittsburgh will be filled with rainbow flags, glitter, drag queens, and Christians. Representatives from more than 130 companies, nonprofits, universities, and places of worship will be striding down Fifth Avenue for the Pittsburgh Pride March, which is expected to attract over 100,000 spectators.
Christianity is often criticized for spreading anti-LGBT messages, but there are a growing number of religious groups that believe same-sex love and faith can go hand in hand. There are now at least nineteen LGBT-friendly churches in the Pittsburgh area. These United Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopal churches vary in their specific views, but they all consider themselves “LGBT welcoming and affirming”.
Last week, Christian rock artist Trey Pearson came out as gay in an emotional letter. He said, “In sharing this publicly I’m taking another step into health and wholeness by accepting myself, and every part of me. It’s not only an idea for me that I’m gay; It’s my life. This is me being authentic and real with myself and other people… I’m still the same guy, with the same heart, who wants to love God and love people with everything I have.”
The letter came as a shock to anti-LGBT Christians as well as secular LGBT folks. Gay Christians often experience more oppression than their secular counterparts, because they are surrounded by friends and family who don’t accept them. Because of this, many end up leaving their church after coming out – even if they still believe in God. But as time goes on, more and more are reconnecting with their faith in churches like the Calvary Epsicopal Church, Metropolitan Community Church of Pittsburgh, and East Liberty Presbyterian.
Church is an integral part in the lives of thousands of LGBT people across the country. As RuPaul once said, “as gay people, we get to choose our family.” For LGBT Christians, church is family.
Angelica Walker is an intern for The New People covering LGBTQ rights and criminal justice reform. She is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh studying social work, legal studies, writing, and political science.