First some fun facts courtesy of the Toronto Star:
$0-the cost of attending Pride
$99.1 million- the economic benefit to Toronto.
5,000- the number of people marching the parade
144- the number of parade floats
1 million- estimated attendance of the weeklong Pride festival
27- the number of years Pride has been happening in the city
12- the number of city blocks involved in the festival
The week after the festival I kept hearing one opinion that was repeated so often that it might have well been a fun fact. That was that the Pride festival is known to be the most welcoming and friendly of all the celebrations in Toronto. It actually made me a little proud to hear that! I can believe it too because the crowds, while mostly gay, held a surprising number of clearly heterosexual men, women and children who were looking for a good time. People wore rainbows in support of their gay friends or just gay people in general, instead of showing their sexual orientation. The mayor, city council and MPs marched in the parade and were cheered more wildly than any of the go-go boys in skimpy speedos.
One of the songs played throughout the festival was "What Have You Done Today (To Make Ya Feel Proud)?" Instead of focusing on the many faults I have, the lyrics challenged me to think about daily actions I take that make me proud.
I find that I make a special effort everyday to represent myself well from the time I walk out of my apartment door until I return again at night. I hold the elevator door for people following behind me. I always give up my seat for an older person (or a tired-looking woman, especially if she is wearing heels!). I slow down enough that I don't accidentally push someone or cut in their way. I say sweetly "Excuse me" when I have to get by. When ordering my meal, I answer "yes, please" or "no, thank you" for clarifying questions. I (usually) refrain from using swear words in my daily interactions with people.
Most importantly I find that am proud for self-identifying. This is so important because I could easily blend in with the majority culture and benefit from the advantages that come with being part of a majority. However when I self-identify as being gay, I leave myself vulnerable to pre-conceptions people may or may not have of people like me. When I self-identify as American, that brings on a whole new bag of misconceptions. And finally when I self-identify as a Christian, sometimes whatever else I say will be held with some contempt or suspicion.
I receive this daily email devotional from PurposeDrivenLife.com. Sometimes it speaks to me, sometimes it doesn't. But recently one phrase did stand out to me and I wanted to share it with you. 'Notice Jesus didn’t say, “Love me,” as proof of our discipleship. He said, “Love one another, and that will show the world you belong to me.” ' It reminds me of this old hippie song that went "And they'll know we are Christians by our love." Isn’t it alarming, then, to think that Christians often known for what we are against, rather than what we’re for – and we are for the Good News of a love so “wide and long and high and deep” that it encompasses more than any of us could ever imagine. (Ephesians 3:18 NIV)
I like the idea of the next verse of this song being "And they'll know we are gay by our love." Not by the diseases we might have, the flags we might wave or the way we may have sex but by the compassion and love that we show each other and the communities around us. I think that would be amazing!
Furthermore the third verse could be "And they'll know we are American by our love." Not by the countries we invade, the power we wield or the movies we make but by the compassion and love we have for those inside as well as outside of our borders. It tears me up a little when I think of the amazing potential the United States has to affect positive change in the world.
So in closing, allow me to turn the question over to you- What have you done today to make you feel PROUD?