Another important celebration each June is Pride.
In Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City in June 1970, Gay Liberation Marches were held on the anniversary of New York’s Stonewall Riots. From these small but powerful roots, a social justice movement grew to become the global celebration of diversity and inclusion that we know so well today. June is now Pride Month, and Toronto has its famous Pride parade – the fourth largest in the world – which began in 1981 as a response to the bathhouse raids of the previous year, when Toronto Police arrested over 300 men. Public response to the parade was so supportive that the city recognized the parade officially, and it has become an iconic and anticipated event on the last Sunday of June every year. I am thrilled that, after a necessary break during the pandemic, the Pride parade is back in force in 2022. This is true not only in Toronto but in many towns and cities across the Diocese.
The Church has a complicated history with Pride. While there are some who have been participants, allies and advocates from the beginning, who have shared their passionate and articulate prophetic voices for change within society and the Anglican Church, there have been those who have strongly opposed the full inclusion of the LGBTQ2SAI+ in our family of faith and our life together. The Church – our Diocese of Toronto – has been responsible for great hurt and terrible harm in how we have treated and spoken to, and of, our siblings in Christ and beloved children of God: our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, two-spirited, asexual, intersex and other sexual and gender non-conforming Anglicans.
I am mindful that it has now been a year since my apology to the LGBTQ2SAI+ community, in which I shared my words of regret and repentance. Living into that apology will take a long time, and we are committed, as a Diocese, to this work of faith, truth, justice and reconciliation. As I said in that apology last June 2021, “our Diocese will seek to partner with other affirming churches and organizations who have walked this path in their communities, so that we can learn from them how to reflect back to society our commitment to being an affirming Church.”
Through years of careful and intentional nurture, we are proud that so many diverse peoples call our Diocese home – a broad community that chooses to be in relationship with each other and with our Saviour Jesus Christ. I invite you to continue learning, as there is much learning yet to do, as we deepen and follow in the teachings and example of Jesus, who calls us to demonstrate transformative change and radical inclusion and hospitality.
If you have ever wanted to march in the Pride parade, feel free to join the Proud Anglicans who will warmly welcome you to walk with them in delight and joy (and fabulous colour and glitter!). Let’s lean into the radical love and expansive generous hospitality that is God’s gift to us. Let us truly, belatedly, prophetically welcome one another home.
Yours in Christ,
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto