I don’t remember my first Pride celebration, but I do remember the first protestor I ever encountered. He was standing on top of a milk crate with a microphone, speaker, and a bible. As people passed, he would read different passages about Hell implying that going through these colorful gates would cement the path there.
Infuriated, I walked right up to him and shouted bible verses back at him. Those years of sitting in mass with my grandmother finally paid off. He was shocked. He clearly wasn’t expecting to have a bible verse battle at this particular protest.
In his anger, he kept telling me I would go to Hell. I angrily stammered something along the lines of: “As long as you’re not there.” After some encouragement from friends, I walked away. Two grown people yelling at each other about God aren’t getting anywhere.
I remember the warm tears streaming down my face that night. It wasn’t the first or last time. However, the feeling is always the same and often ends with tears to release all the pent up anger. Still thinking about the encounter later that evening, I went home and did some vocabulary analysis. I was reminded of that night this week when I saw a similar post on Instagram. I added some research of my own to this list.
- Bible verses about being trans: 0
- Bible verses about homosexuality: 6
- Bible verses against tattoos: 25
- Bible verses about peace: 429
- Bible verses about loving God & others: 700+
- Bible verses about taking care of the poor: 2000+
So what the Bible says (or more importantly doesn’t say) seems rather instructive. Also, it’s worth consideration that one of those verses (Timothy 1:8-11) lists lying immediately following the phrase interpreted by some as referring to same gender relations. So same sex relations and lying are equals if you believe the translation.
Even if I knew God doesn’t think I should go to Hell for who I love, encounters with protestors like this man always left me with a lingering heartache. A feeling that stuck with me long after the burst of endorphins from seeing a Pride flag in a quiet rural town. I was struck with the feeling again during a Pride presentation earlier this week where someone asked, “how do I support people whose identities may not align with my religious beliefs?”
This is an admittedly loaded question for me. In the early years when I figured out I was gay, I lost my relationship with God. I couldn’t believe in something that hated me. As much as it hurt to lose my religion, the people who vocalized their hate the loudest were on His side. Maybe we didn’t have the same God. Maybe He did hate me after all. It left me feeling lost and abandoned.
In a series of moments that should have broken me, I found God again. In the last 20 years, I have carefully made my way back to this relationship that always gave me the most peace. A relationship with something bigger that had a plan I didn’t need to know. I have used many names. Call it God, the Universe, pick yours. But I know we all deserve access to something that offers everlasting, ever-loving peace. Even if you just call it science.
I am hesitant to talk about my relationship with a higher power because people who say they love God have not always been kind to me. Today I wear this relationship on my chest. I haven’t gone to mass regularly in years but in my travels, I collected two saint medals I wear every day around my neck. They are an indication to anyone who wants to attack me in the name of God that I keep God close to my heart, too. A God that won’t send me to Hell for loving someone else and being who I am.
So when they asked about identities that may not align with religious beliefs, I said I’ve never heard of a higher power that asks us to hate or reject others. No matter what you call it, that love is equally beautiful by any name. Books like the Bible tell stories about people who loved others endlessly, not abandoning people because of what some person – not God – said. Our responsibility simply as a decent human is to let people be. To not stand in the way of relationships that offer everlasting, ever-loving peace over misinterpreted phrases, especially when there are hundreds that without a doubt ask you to just love people no matter what.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.