Read part one here. The Austin Pride Parade was held on Saturday, September 7, 2013 and 406 Reconciling Methodists participated from 9 churches in the Central Texas and Southwest Texas conferences. Here are some pictures and a story. Learn more about the affirming United Methodist groups that participated in Austin Pride Parade at www.LYN2016.com. 

Last
year, I convinced my boyfriend, Bryan that we needed to go to the Pride Parade.
Well, to be honest, it didn’t take much convincing, but it was my idea anyway.
You see, we are both bisexual and over the course of our lives we have been taught,
as many others have been taught, that it’s wrong. I wanted so much for him to
see what I’ve felt. Plus, it would be my first time at Pride and I thought it
would be fun. In the fewest words possible, I will simply describe our experience
as moving. It made a huge impact on us and we vowed to return as participants
in hopes to make the same difference for someone else.

Enter Trinity UMC, Austin. We were searching for
a church where we could truly be ourselves without fear of judgment and came
across the Reconciling Congregation Directory online. Admittedly, Trinity took some
getting used to, but it just felt right. Every Sunday, Bryan and I were
challenged and found ourselves discussing the message for the day. If you would
have asked me 10 years ago whether or not I would be in a church like Trinity,
the answer would probably have been no, but this isn’t 10 years ago. This is
now and God clearly knew what we needed at this moment in our lives.

We not only became excited about this new place
where we felt welcomed, but we became excited about what Trinity was doing and
most specifically something that really tugs at our hearts, Reconciling Ministry.
When plans for Pride were made, Bryan and I jumped at the chance to order our
shirts and sign up to walk with Trinity and the other UMC churches. This was
it. The promise we made to ourselves to be a part of the parade was being
fulfilled and the excitement just grew from there. For once, we could be
completely out to a group who didn’t bat an eye at our declaration. No fear for
our salvation. No declarations of damnation. Just complete acceptance and
unconditional love, the way God intended us to be.

For Bryan and me, this parade wasn’t just about
marching in support of equal rights, but also to share with anyone there that
not only are we Christian and love you the way God loves you, but we are also
members of the very community often
shunned by Christians, yet here we are, members of a loving congregation who
accept us and don’t want us to change. Here we are, bisexual, and active in our
church and someday, hopefully more active in ministry.

As I walked down Congress, proudly wearing my
red “Love your Neighbor” shirt and holding up a sign decorated in the bi pride
colors with the words “I <3 Boys, I <3 Girls, I Am Bisexual,” I felt God
among us.  Seeing the excitement of the
parade goers and the honest-to-goodness gratitude for our show of support
reminded me what it is to be a Christian. There was a point when I was nearly
overwhelmed with happiness that tears welled up in my eyes. A simple gesture,
walking in a parade, but it means so much to so many and you never know who you
will impact. I was one of those watching, last year, but now I know that I made
a difference even though I was just one in a much
larger group.

I left the parade that night feeling invigorated
and excited. I can’t wait for Pride next year! In the meantime, it’s about time
for me to get involved so I can make a difference year-round. There’s much to
be done and the more people we have doing it, the more we can accomplish.

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