The Pride Parade – Just Imagine!

June 11, 2019

These blogs are part of a five-part Pride Month series, Pride with Mercy. They grew out of the Sisters of Mercy’s Chapter 2017 Declaration challenging each of us to respond to those who suffer from oppressive systems and to “become better educated and to participate in engaged dialogue on issues of gender identity and sexual orientation.” We encourage you to forward these posts to someone who might need to read them. Together, may we grow in our tolerance, acceptance and understanding, and extend a hand of welcome to the LGBTQ+ community.

By Sister Betsy Linehan

My late nephew Danny, my sister and I shared a vivid fantasy: the three of us plus mymother marching arm-in-arm in the Pride Parade in Washington D.C. We’d be dressed in the colors of the rainbow, of course. Mom died in 1996, several years before Danny came out to us. So, you ask, how can I be so sure about our mother, Danny’s beloved grandmother?

My youngest brother and my oldest niece both have childhood memories of picketing the White House with mom. She stood up and marched for a number of causes: racial equality, fair housing (in Virginia where she lived), women’s rights. She also marched against some things: the Vietnam War, creating more superhighways like I-66 in Virginia. She was not given to bumper stickers, but she had one on the family car that read “The Road to Hell Is Paved.” One of her favorite accolades was when a minor politician in Arlington called her “Doris Linehan, that Bolshevik.”

That’s my indirect evidence that she would have marched in the Pride Parade with Danny and us. More direct evidence is her response when we all learned that a relative by marriage, rather recently divorced, was gay and was dying of AIDS. On the phone, giving me this news, she reflected, “He must have been so lonely.” Then she and my dad sent him a fruit basket with a note of love and compassion.

A Pride Parade in Washington D.C.
A Pride Parade in Washington D.C.

My early religion teachers warned against pride; it was one of the Seven Deadly Sins, we were taught. They recommended humility, defined as “truth.”  But pride can also be truth, and virtuous: “I praise you [God], for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Ps 139)

In this sense, pride’s opposite is not humility, but shame. Wendell Berry’s beautiful poem, “Do not be ashamed” speaks to this:

Though you have done nothing shameful,
they will want you to be ashamed.
They will want you to kneel and weep,
and say you should have been like them.
And once you say you are ashamed, 
reading the page they hold out to you, 
then such light as you have made
in your history will leave you….”

Danny, you made great light in your short history with us. We celebrate you and with you proudly!

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  1. Rose Marie Tresp

    thanks, beautiful reflection

  2. Sister Natalie Rossi

    Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing. Stories help us begin to until what others go through.

  3. Richard Mary Burke, RSM

    Betsy, what a loving and poignant reflection! Not only do you speak of PRIDE, in all of its “identities,” but you also provide a tapestry of relationships…family, neighbors, extended family and those who are truly “community” to/with all of us. Thank you for these beautiful images and the humanity they embrace.
    Richard Mary

  4. Jane Francisco

    Thank you for this healing and beautiful story.It reminds me that all of us are made in God’s image and likeness.May we all see the face of God in others.

  5. Michelle Gorman, RSM

    Thanks, Betsy, for sharing the positive impact of family in all of our lives and the necessity for LGBTQ+ people to have the support of family. I think we can all relate to the Wendell Berry poem- unfortunately.

  6. Maria Cristina Piccottini

    Such a beautiful reflection,thanks!!??

  7. Peg Sullivan, RSM

    Beautiful and very personal reflection. Thank you, Betsy

  8. Sharon Schmitz

    Thanks, Betsy, for your thoughtful reflection. What a model family you have. Diversity is a beautiful gift of God. Would that everyone could understand that as you do.

  9. Regina Ward, RSM

    Thanks, Betsy! What a courageous and powerful woman your mother was! I’m grateful for your reflection and for the opportunities to break open the discussions that bring us to truth about unity, diversity and truth.

  10. Terri Bednarz

    Thanks Betsy! I thought of my grandmother who once asked me if “gay” people go to hell… I replied “of course not … God loves us all!” I asked why she wanted to know and she said I have lost two of my dearest nephews…(on the side of the family I never knew) … they both died of AIDS in their 20s. I remember she talked of them so often… for the first time I understood why that side of the family was labeled strange… it made me sad and angry as I would have liked to have met them! And I wished I had pursued the conversation with my grandmother on a deeper level! Thanks Betsy for touching the heart and stirring the memories.

  11. Lincoln Sigwald

    Thank you for the courage, candor, and compassion you so gently and lovingly articulate in this reflection. Healing is such an ongoing process. Your words bring comfort to me and to countless others. “The tender mercy of God has,” indeed, “given us one another”—all of us—to and for one another.

  12. Angela Ebberwein

    Betsy, a wonderful story, wonderfully told. All the “actors” echo Hopkins:

    “Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
    Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
    Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
    Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.”


  13. Patrick Murphy

    Well done Sister Betsy–such healthy sparkle to your words and sentiments. Gave us a nice boost after sitting at church yesterday and hearing out faith formation director tell us–no more registering of children for faith formation unless it’s done at mass. “We are tired of registering children at the parish office that attend classes and we never see them again.” Besides, the budget is being cut so we have to limit class size. This, even though we send eighty thousand a year to support the bishop’s office for what I have no great idea. You’d almost think after all the church has to answer for regarding the well-being of children, we wouldn’t turn any one of those precious angels away. But there you are. Thanks for the light you shine Sister. Long may you prosper.