The summer has become one of my favorite seasons because it offers lots of opportunities for me to show love for and towards people within the LGBT community at various Pride celebrations. As a straight ally, I’ve often felt like being open about my full acceptance was a coming out process in itself, although I know what I’ve faced is nothing like the cruelties that some people experience after revealing their sexual orientations.

At the beginning of the year, I met a gay Christian who said he was heavily engaged in music ministry for many years at his church but when he went public about his sexual orientation, he was told he could not participate anymore…unless the church leaders became desperate for someone to play the organ on a given Sunday, and then they might temporarily cease barring his participation. When I heard about that, I was appalled.

Scenarios like those are part of what compels me to constantly speak out as a Christian and say “Some of us wholly support the LGBT community and think you should be permitted to fully participate in all church activities without question.” It’s not that I just feel that way during Pride season, but that time of year does tend to give me a larger quantity of opportunities to put my support on full display, and I believe that doing so is crucial. I’m not much use as an ally if I stay quiet about my beliefs, and I think one of the ways I can be most effective is to convey my beliefs through loving actions that defy the preconceived notions many people have (understandably) developed about how Christians collectively feel about the LGBT community.

Recently, I was explaining to someone about how I can recall being told by my parents when I was about 10 years old that same-sex relationships weren’t biblically sound (and knowing even then that my definition of love spanned beyond solely male/female and female/male relationships) and how they still believe that being gay is a sin but wrap up that statement by saying, “but everyone sins, so…” She asked me why I was the one person in my family who broke away from those taught beliefs and did so very clearly. I’m not sure why it happened, but I am so glad it did.

I am not always one to be extremely vocal about my beliefs nor very expressive in showing them through actions, but in this case, there’s no other approach I can take in good conscience. I have a huge amount of distress about the fact that generally, two things that I love dearly (my faith and the LGBT community) do not coexist harmoniously. There’s no reason why they can’t and shouldn’t, but since they don’t, I often feel quite sad.

Not long from now, I plan to take part in a “Christians At Pride” campaign that involves groups of Christians going to various Pride events around the United Kingdom (The one I want to attend is in Belfast) and marching together as a group to be visible both about their faith and their support of the LGBT community.

Working for greater acceptance (and true acceptance, not the kind that’s like “Well, we accept you, but…”) for LGBT people within faith communities has become a lifetime commitment of mine. Although there’s a gigantic amount of progress left to be made, I know one way I can start to push things in the right direction is to show my complete love and acceptance through actions that are visible to others. Sometimes it feels like I’m not doing nearly enough, but any positive action is better than none, and I will keep at it as long as I live.