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.
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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