It’s June 19, 2022, and I’m just now writing my annual Pride Month post. I know, I know… It’s not like me, is it? I haven’t even put the obligatory rainbow filter on my social media profile pictures! I guess it’s just a different kind of Pride Month for me this year.

When I first came bursting out of the closet in 2016, I was 44 years old. I had been hiding an integral part of my identity behind a heteronormative facade for my entire life. For an ENFP, Enneagram 7, verbal processor, up front, public, relationship-driven person like me, that had been incredibly difficult. Even though so much of my life was genuinely good, the burden of secrecy had gotten increasingly heavy and more difficult to carry. Every day felt like putting on a costume and a mask just to leave the house and walk around in the world.

So when I was finally free to tell the whole story, to live my life in a way that felt authentic and congruent with reality, I felt like I could finally “breathe deep the breath of God.” I felt like I could finally live the abundant life that Jesus had promised in John 10:10.

And I’ll admit, I was a lot. I couldn’t stop talking about my new life! I figured I had documented my life on social media before I came out… Why stop now?

I flew to New York City for a big “gaycation” with my also-newly-out friend Bruce (who everyone assumed I was dating – I wasn’t). I joined the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. I joined the staff of Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, the historic church that has been marrying and ordaining queer people since 1968. I started dating men and talking about it openly. I was in San Francisco so often that people assumed I had moved there!

For my first Pride Month on this side of the closet door, in 2017, I wrote a post for every single day. (First on Facebook, and then they found a permanent home here on my blog.) I wanted to help people understand the process I had walked through. I wanted to help my Christian friends and family understand LGBTQ+ affirmation, and I wanted to help my new LGBTQ+ friends understand my history in and love for my rich Christian faith tradition. There was a ton of engagement in the comments and DMs, and I can look back on that time as the beginning of something really powerful that continues today in my ministry with The Quest, The Christian Closet and Common Sanctuary.

Which brings us to 2022, a very different kind of Pride Month. As you may have heard, I’ve had a lot of other things on my mind. Back in March, I had a stroke that led to a (minimally invasive, but still) heart surgery on May 27. I continue to rest and recover from both of these things. I thank God every day that my amazing partner, Alejandro, just happened to be in town on that fateful morning and got me to the ER within about 25 minutes, where I was able to receive the miraculous “clotbuster” medicine that saved my life and reversed the slurred speech, paralysis and loss of feeling on my left side. I have very few deficits from the stroke, and for the most part, I am able to live my life normally. I still get exhausted pretty easily, and I deal with some strange sensations in my head that should go away in time. But I am very fortunate and very grateful.

I’m also very proud. Even though this year it has to be a quieter kind of pride. Because the world needs queer pride, perhaps now more than ever. When LGBTQ+ people celebrate pride, we’re refusing to live in shame any longer. We’re embracing the reality that God created us, calls us “good” and blessed our queer identities and relationships.

In 2022, despite a recent Gallup poll that shows that a record 71% of Americans now support same-sex marriage, LGBTQ+ folks are under an increasingly desperate and hateful onslaught of attacks, from Republican legislatures, right-wing media and, sadly, people who claim to follow Jesus.

From the conservative hysteria around a simple same-sex kiss in a Pixar movie to the arrests of 31 White supremacists who were planning to riot at a Pride event in Idaho last Saturday, from the dozens of new laws being introduced to restrict rights for LGBTQ+ young people to this Christian extremist who called for our execution on a recent Sunday morning in his church, the conservative discourse around our identities seems to be increasingly, well… erasure or extinction. The Florida “Don’t Say Gay” bill, for instance, makes it illegal to discuss gender identity or sexual orientation with children in kindergarten through third grade. Proponents of this bill have painted those of us who oppose it as “groomers,” who want to “sexualize” young children. This is patently false and inflammatory language that displays a woefully ignorant understanding of both sexual orientation and gender identity, neither of which is about the sex act itself. What this law does is keep young gay, lesbian, bi and trans children (yes, they exist) and children of queer families from seeing themselves represented in the classroom.

Trans people are particularly targeted these days, in ways that LGB people were targeted in past decades. It’s important for us cisgender queer people to use our (relative) privilege to advocate for them and to share our platforms with them wherever possible. I urge you to read this essay by one of my favorite trans writers and critics, Emily St. James.

Just this weekend, at the Texas GOP convention, delegates voted to label homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice” and to “oppose all efforts to validate transgender identity.” I wish I were making this up. Of course, they also called for the repeal of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was passed to end discrimination against Black Americans at the polls, and declared, despite all available evidence, “We reject the certified results of the 2020 Presidential election, and we hold that acting President Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. was not legitimately elected by the people of the United States.”

So this is what we’re up against, friends. This is why Pride still matters. This is why we have to keep standing up and demanding our rights. This is why we need our allies to speak out on our behalf. This is why I will keep telling my story and keep writing my posts and keep battling fundamentalists on Twitter and keep sharing my platform with those less privileged than I. Lives hang in the balance.

It’s a quieter Pride for me this year, but it’s more important than ever. Please join me.