Every year in June, we celebrate Pride month, a special time to recognize the lives, achievements, and history of the LGBTQIA+ community. I first attended a pride event in 2014, when I was not quite “out of the closet” and was longing for a place to be included – a theme we explore in our summer camp curriculum “This is Our Prayer”. What I found at this event was shocking to me – I learned that I was part of a community that was celebrating their wholeness, accepting people wherever they were on their journeys, and telling the world that they would no longer be treated as second class citizens simply for being who they were created to be. For many years, I had struggled with a cognitive misperception of Pride, believing fully that “pride goes before the fall”. What I have learned in my continued journey as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is that the Pride we celebrate has nothing to do with arrogance, but instead is about rejecting the shame that many of us were taught to feel about the people that we are. Pride is about celebrating our stories, and the immovability of our community.
At my first pride event, I realized that feeling of acceptance for being exactly who I am had been rare in my life up until that point, but that the first place I had ever felt it was summer camp. Camp allows kids the space to bring their goofy, whole selves to every activity, conversation, and cabin. In a world that can sometimes shame kids for their curiosity and behavior that does not conform to a societal “norm”, camp is a place where we celebrate each other’s quirkiness.
I am forever grateful that I stumbled into that first pride event in 2014, and that I found open and affirming churches shortly thereafter with whom to attend Pride events every year since. I am also grateful to spend Pride month in 2021 at DuBois Center, celebrating every camper that comes through our gate.
At DuBois Center, we are working each day to build a more comprehensively inclusive environment. From frank conversations including subjects from the way things have been named in the past that may create exclusion to planning for a busy Rainbow Camp on August 7, we are looking forward to leveling up our inclusive practices.
I am looking forward to joining you all in the journey toward celebrating the wholeness of God’s human creations!
Hayley Elliott, Acting Director.