The Philippines’ LGBTQ community and its allies gathered near the capital city of Manila on June 30 to celebrate Pride.
There was no shortage of colorful love to go around.
There were also more than a few religious groups in attendance, eager to make their own opinions heard.
Like most public Pride events, the march drew plenty of people who were decidedly not there to celebrate love and acceptance.
Like this disgruntled gentleman.
Or this dude on the far right of the photo (and probably the political spectrum).
Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not uncommon in the Philippines.
Surprisingly, though, some religious groups were there for a completely different reason — they came to say sorry.
“I’m sorry,” read a large banner carried by one Christian group that marched in solidarity with the LGBTQ community. “We’re here to apologize for the ways that we as Christians have harmed the LGBT community.”
The banner continued, noting the reasons why the group was apologizing:
… for not listening.
… for judging you.
… for hiding behind religion, when really I was just scared.
… I’ve looked at you as a sex act instead of a child of God.
… I have looked down on you instead of honoring your humanity.
… I’ve rejected and hurt your family in the name of ‘family values.’
Photos from the event have gone viral, like the one below that shows two people holding their apologies high.
“I used to be a Bible-banging homophobe,” one read. “Sorry!!”
“Jesus didn’t turn people away,” read the other, “neither do we.”
The two viral pics were shared by Twitter user Jamilah Salvador, who attended the festivities near Manila.
“I literally cried when I saw this,” Salvador wrote in her tweet sharing the images.
The people in the photos are from the Church of Freedom in Christ Ministries in Makati, BuzzFeed News learned.
The group has been marching in Pride celebrations for years as part of their “I’m Sorry” campaign.
“I used to believe that God condemns homosexuals,” Val Paminiano, pastor of the church, explained to the outlet. “But when I studied the scriptures, especially the ones that we call ‘clobber scriptures’ that are being cherry-picked from the Bible to condemn LGBT people, I realized that there’s a lot to discover, including the truth that God is not against anyone.”
That message made a world of difference to Salvador, who had a strict, religious upbringing.
“I felt goosebumps all over my body reading their [banner and signs],” Salvador wrote to Upworthy in a message. “As a ‘full-blooded’ Catholic (born and raised), it is impossible to not encounter hate from the people who cannot understand the [LGBTQ community].”
The church’s efforts have made an impact on LGBTQ people around the world.
It goes to show that, as we learn and grow, it’s important to do more than just fix our problematic behavior — we have to make amends for our past beliefs and behaviors, too.
Wrote Salvador, “These people’s effort of apologizing and showing that they accept and understand us really means a lot.”
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