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Christian Group Says 'I'm Sorry' at Gay Pride Parade in Chicago


A group from The Marin Foundation, a Christian group whose goal is building bridges between the religious and LGBT communities, set up in an area adjacent to Chicago's Gay Pride parade over the weekend, writes Nathan, a Director of Pastoral Care at the foundation, in a blog post:

"I spent the day at Chicago’s Pride Parade. Some friends and I, with The Marin Foundation, wore shirts with 'I’m Sorry' written on it. We had signs that said, 'I’m sorry that Christians judge you,' 'I’m sorry the way churches have treated you,' 'I used to be a bible-banging homophobe, sorry.' We wanted to be an alternative Christian voice from the protestors that were there speaking hate into megaphones."

Nathan discusses the various reactions to the group as people read their signs and "got it", but was most touched by one parade participant:

He stopped dancing. He looked at all of us standing there. A look of utter seriousness came across his face. And as the float passed us he jumped off of it and ran towards us. In all his sweaty beautiful abs of steal, he hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”

Before I had even let go, another guy ran up to me, kissed me on the cheek, and gave me the biggest bear hug ever. I almost had the wind knocked out of me; it was one of those hugs.

This is why I do what I do. This is why I will continue to do what I do. Reconciliation was personified.

I think a lot of people would stop at the whole “man in his underwear dancing” part. That seems to be the most controversial. It’s what makes the evening news. It’s the stereotype most people have in their minds about Pride.

Sadly, most Christians want to run from such a sight rather than engage it. Most Christian won't even learn if that person dancing in his underwear has a name. Well, he does. His name is Tristan.

However, I think Jesus would have hugged him too. It’s exactly what I read throughout scripture: Jesus hanging out with people that religious people would flee from. Correlation between then and now? I think so.

Read Nathan's whole blog post here, and an update.

Like Dan Savage, who originally pointed me to this story, I don't know too much about The Marin Foundation or its underlying goals and philosophies, so I'm hesitant to endorse them as an organization. If anybody knows whether their actions are sincere or mask some sort of goal that hasn't been disclosed, feel free to let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: And it appears I was right to be skeptical. Check out this article written by Michelangelo Signorile for The Advocate in 2006, which exposes Andrew Marin, the group's founder, and reveals how he suckered national LGBT groups with his message.

"I invited Marin to be on my program on Sirius Satellite Radio , where he would not answer a simple question I asked four times: 'Do you affirm homosexuality as normal, natural, and healthy?' Marin claimed that as a 'bridge' he had to be circumspect and also denied ever saying the foundation would make him rich. He also said that he had the full support of HRC, GLAA , and GMHC , which he had linked to and listed on his Web site as 'sponsors and donors,' even though he admitted they had not given him any money."

Watch the group's video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. The thing is, I don't get that Andrew opposes gay civil equality. He's supportive of our marriages and our families and he opposes abuse towards our community. What more do you want from the guy?

    Posted by: Jon Trouten | Jul 1, 2010 2:44:12 PM

  2. to ADAMN - why so hostile? i'm a straight christian, a fan of Marin's work, and i've never once expected or asked anyone from the LGBT community to "change" if they become a christian. a whole lot of my gay friends actually already *do* identify as christians - i'm not going around telling them they're not fully christian or have more work to do - and neither is Marin. the whole idea behind all of this is that, from a christian perspective of trying to reconcile certain interpretations of scripture with our experience of the world and love for other people, we are faced with the fact that we just don't have all the answers. and in response to our not knowing, we affirm and encourage others to grow in Christ in healthy ways, without swearing off LGBT as a way to do that the way many christians do.

    also...i'm not trying to get anyone's money, most christians interested in gay rights and reconciliation aren't, and if you know anything about "Christian Fundies" you've got to see the idiocy of putting Andrew Marin on the same level as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

    i strongly recommend looking up Justin Lee and the Gay Christian Network for more insight into how gay people can actively pursue a christian lifestyle without denying their identity, "changing," or vowing celibacy.

    or go to for marin's blog where i think you'll see he's not trying to trick anyone

    Posted by: slater | Jul 1, 2010 2:54:33 PM

  3. @David Foreman

    "It's not because he's wishy-washy or non-committed, that Andrew isn't answering the question with a "yes" or "no" A yes or no answer will inevitably alienate one group or the other."

    And yet he doesn't have a problem with saying that "the Marin Foundation believes that the Bible is the inerrant word of God...". He clearly doesn't have a problem with alienating atheists. It's easy to see that the Marin Foundation is a pro-Christian group, not a pro-gay group.

    And that's the problem with many pro-gay Christians: they're more pro-Christian than pro-gay.

    Posted by: Eugene | Jul 1, 2010 2:57:24 PM

  4. I actually spoke with Andrew Marin and I think what he's doing is much better than doing nothing or what many other churches are doing which is ostracizing the LGBT community. So he wouldn't answer the "it" question. Probably because he, as a straight man doesn't know the answer.

    Listen to the interview I had with him here:

    Posted by: James Hipps | Jul 1, 2010 3:08:58 PM

  5. @Adamn

    I don't think Marin is after gay money. I, as a gay person and as a Christian, would not support him financially because of his beliefs that homosexuality is a sin. Frankly, his position just shows how far many Christians' perspective are from many gays' perspective. Not to mention, the large majority of gays could care less about Marin's position. But their ability to hug Tristan (in the photo) shows more about how far Christians have come rather than how much gays are giving in to "loving" anti-gay groups.

    Posted by: JFE | Jul 1, 2010 3:12:40 PM

  6. Let's take that into consideration. Let's say that he believes, because of his faith, that homosexuality is a sin but distinguishes that from lgbt civil equality, and thinks that gays should have civil equality. When he approaches his like minded evangelical fundies with his message, he affirms for them that being gay is a sin, and is proclaimed as such by their god. Given that most metrics deem bad things worthy of elimination, he's not going to be persuading them to vote otherwise, or do anything other than they're doing. So, as far as its effectiveness, it is null and void, and has the same effect as if he were to both condemn homosexuality (for that's what he's doing), and oppose civil equality. He's not denying them the origin of their antigay belief, so on what ground can he deny its consequence given that it's strictly a religious opinion? None. The goodness of a person is measured in effects, not intentions.

    Nothing changes by working from within an bigoted institution. It can't, for you can't use the same beliefs and mechanisms that oppress to uplift.

    So what more do I want? How about an actual commitment to lgbt liberty? Not some half hearted middleground...because in politics, nuance don't work.

    Religious moderates do nothing to effect sufficient change on any substantive issue. They're just as culpable in their silence (the usual case) or minor "protest" as the more extreme elements of their faith (who outnumber them as a matter of statistical fact in the u.s.) for the oppression that they enact. Further, most religious "moderates" are always first in line to defend their faith from criticism rather than criticize the toxic elements played up by the extremists that they desperately try to distance themselves from with impotent rhetoric.

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 1, 2010 3:12:47 PM

  7. I am still forming my opinion on all of this, but to be fair to Marin the article which you linked to from Signorlie has been retracted by the Advocate for having so many discrepancies and misrepresentations of Marin and many of those interviewed. In fact if you try to search the Advocate site you will not find this story and that is why this link takes you to a "free library" site.

    My opinion thus far is that I have seen what the Marin Foundation is doing within the faith community in Chicago and I for one appreciate the steps forward. I want to be able to discover my faith on my own journey and Marin and his foundation allow space for me to do that.

    Posted by: Nalaih | Jul 1, 2010 3:13:22 PM

  8. And the appeal to ignorance evidenced by many posters and marin himself is very telling. If you don't know the answer as to whether or not homosexuality is bad or neutral, then you aren't THINKING. Appeal to ignorance in human rights and dignity is to cede the point entirely to those who oppose both. It isn't up for grabs, and it isn't an issue on which people can remain neutral...there is no tenable excuse to be "confused" or "agnostic" on such issues, and represents a moral failing of one of the highest orders.

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 1, 2010 3:21:31 PM

  9. but it does prove the quote that without religion, bad people would do bad things, and good people would do good things--only with religion do good people do bad things (and you can include culture in general).

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 1, 2010 3:23:51 PM

  10. @Jon Trouten

    "The thing is, I don't get that Andrew opposes gay civil equality. He's supportive of our marriages and our families and he opposes abuse towards our community.
    What more do you want from the guy?"

    I'm afraid I haven't found ANYTHING about civil equality on the Marin Foundation website. Apparently, it doesn't matter because it's an "earthly" thing:

    "Too often people look for validation in the wrong places; earthly places. Whether that validation comes from us, your church, your family or your friends – it all will not matter as the only True validation comes from our Father; and should be sought after as such."

    Now, let's see what Marin does. He aggressively promotes Christianity, but fails to condemn its anti-gay aspects. Needless to say, it's a net negative for us. Yes, he's better than many other Christians, but it doesn't mean that he's doing a good thing.

    Posted by: Eugene | Jul 1, 2010 3:29:42 PM

  11. @Slater
    "to ADAMN - why so hostile?"
    I don't trust wish washy "allies" who comfort my mortal enemies. Also as a non-Christian atheist, I don't really care about being closer to someone's make believe playtime...but that's just me!
    "But their ability to hug Tristan (in the photo) shows more about how far Christians have come rather than how much gays are giving in to "loving" anti-gay groups."
    Why the fuck would or should we want to "give in" to loving anti-gay groups???? Are you insane? These people HATE us. They want to deny us equal rights and in, some places of the world, want to KILL us. So FUCK THEM. I didn't grow up Christian (I'm ethnically Jewish but agnostic) so I am naturally absolutely and totally culturally skeptical of Christian love and forgiveness...cuz you know it worked out so well for both the Jews and the fags all these centuries.
    @ Tank
    Totally agree!

    Posted by: AdamN | Jul 1, 2010 3:34:31 PM

  12. Eugene: All I can do is suggest you check out his blog ( and see what he writes about marriage equality, gay parenting, the Uganda bill, hate crimes bills, DADT, etc. Or listen to the gayagenda radio interview with James Hipp (mentioned above).

    Beyond that, you can take or reject Marin's Pride message. His crew had "I'm Sorry" signs for sins that the church has committed against GLBT people, which was a very different message from many of the other Christian folks with signs at Chicago Pride. I know the ones here in Iowa City had a message of "Got AIDS Yet?".

    Posted by: Jon Trouten | Jul 1, 2010 3:43:40 PM

  13. wow that's really refreshing. kindness can go a long way. I don't care what they believe as long as they havn't used it to upset me or engage in ignorance about who I am and what made me who I am. Nice

    Posted by: mike | Jul 1, 2010 3:43:42 PM

  14. @Jon Trouten

    "All I can do is suggest you check out his blog ( and see what he writes about marriage equality, gay parenting, the Uganda bill, hate crimes bills, DADT, etc."

    You see, I'm reading his blog now, and he appears to be a nice guy, but, for example, he doesn't appear to be supporting civil marriage equality. It isn't there (e.g. his Prop 8 post). More importantly, the problem is that he ignores the CAUSES of anti-gay bigotry, making his writings rather pointless.

    "His crew had "I'm Sorry" signs for sins that the church has committed against GLBT people, which was a very different message from many of the other Christian folks with signs at Chicago Pride."

    In other words, he's better than some Christians, but worse than most atheists.

    Posted by: Eugene | Jul 1, 2010 4:10:40 PM

  15. Eugene: Here's one particular post to check out, especially his remarks in the comments:

    I read his posts tagged "gay marriage" and find posts supporting marriage equality.

    Posted by: Jon Trouten | Jul 1, 2010 4:34:36 PM

  16. @Jon Trouten

    "I read his posts tagged "gay marriage" and find posts supporting marriage equality."

    That's what I had already done when I wrote my previous post. Yes, he says, "I think that all couples (gay/straight) should have to go to a courthouse to be legally married". But he's doing NOTHING to make it happen. He can't even ask Christians to support civil marriage equality. He even says that the fact that he attended your wedding DOESN'T say anything about his beliefs! I mean, someone could have thought that he's pro-gay - and what could be worse?

    Posted by: Eugene | Jul 1, 2010 4:52:48 PM

  17. OK so I have gone to this guy’s site, read some posts and watched his videos about Gay Pride. This guy is NOT on our side. Seriously you people are deluding yourself if you think so. He deliberately is obscuring his agenda in regards to the gay community and promoting a different approach for conservative Christians to “reach out” to us and “help” us come to Christ.
    The biggest thing for me is that at the end of the day, this guy and his organization don't actually stand for anything for the gay community as opposed to actively standing for a way for Christians to “approach” (cough CONVERT cough) us. Saying you are for "love" is not just enough in this case, he has to take a pro-gay stance otherwise it's just empty words. All these anti-gay Christians "love" us, even the Nigerian ones that kill some of us to set an example. I have absolutely zero tolerance for that kind of "love". You either accept us as full, natural, human beings deserving of absolute and complete equality and not living in sin based upon on our identity or you are not our ally. Anyone that can't answer a simple a question about whether we should "change" our orientation is not our friend. Futhermore, anyone who goes to pains to defend and “build a bridge” with people that hate us and want to oppress us is NOT our ally in any way shape or form. We don't need to comprise for these freakshows, they need to comprise for us. I, for one, seriously believe the world is changing and anti gay religious institutions will go the way of the dinosaurs unless they get over their bigotry. I trust that these religious groups have far more interest in their self preservation (certainly more then "love" and "god") to actually let that happen.

    Posted by: AdamN | Jul 1, 2010 5:01:01 PM

  18. Oh for... People, get it through your skulls. Not everyone has to believe like you. We have the freedom to believe what we want in the US, be it an all knowing being passing judgments on us from on high and those judgments being tempered by the love of his son, a universal consciousness that connects us all together and of which we are all a part, the harmony and majesty of nature itself, or nothing at all.

    This is a GOOD thing. Who cares what's in their hearts. They aren't treating us like shit in public and they are apologizing publicly for what they may have done in the past. They are FOLLOWING their religion and withholding public judgment and leaving it up to their God. So what if they won't publicly say we aren't sinners? I don't care. They are making moves to be publicly civil to us instead of openly hostile. Live and let live. We stay vigilant, keep them at arms length, but take the same view. Live and let live.

    All you people here are doing is proving that the radicals are right and our community is the scum of the earth. With a few, more humane posters as the exceptions. Practice what you preach people. Tolerance and acceptance of others begins at home.

    Posted by: Steve | Jul 1, 2010 6:01:43 PM

  19. I took the time to read "Love is an Orientation" a few months ago and found the book to be an interesting read. In it he discusses the challenges he has had in overcoming the viewpoints he was taught.

    He isnt a 'perfect' man and he would be the first to admit that. What he is however is a man who is willing to sit down and have the conversation . . . a guy who is willing to listen . . . to talk . . . and to learn.

    There were times in his book that i shook my head in disagreement with what he had to say, but for the most part he does 'get it'. He is on his own journey and by doing what he is doing is challenging those people who view us gays as complete abominations.

    Give the guy a break. He is doing good work.

    Posted by: Parsons | Jul 1, 2010 6:06:53 PM

  20. "All you people here are doing is proving that the radicals are right and our community is the scum of the earth."

    Let's hope you're just another crazed fundotard and not a homosexual. Because you aren't gay...that's for sure, faggot. Embarrassing idiot. It's just too bad that there are so many idiots like you.

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 1, 2010 6:16:09 PM

  21. Parsons, steve, and the rest of the effete apologists and religious equality is negotiable for these douchenozzles...IGNORE the fucktards.

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 1, 2010 6:17:31 PM

  22. but, of course...that gay equality is negotiable and not as important as "churchin' up" for church fags is why they're church "faggots"...

    Posted by: TANK | Jul 1, 2010 6:19:36 PM

  23. Never said that I wanted everyone to think alike just that this guy and his organization really aren't an ally. You are right that its free country. We all have the right to express our views and opinions, including those of us who don't trust this guy. Honestly I'd rather them be hateful to my face then behind my back coating in words of "love". At least you know who you are really dealing with that way.
    If being critical of this guy, suspect of his agenda and his relationship to our community is radical, then I'll wear it proudly.

    Posted by: AdamN | Jul 1, 2010 6:20:36 PM

  24. @Steve

    "Oh for... People, get it through your skulls. Not everyone has to believe like you."

    What's telling is that no one says this about racism. But, apparently, homophobia is A-OK. Yes, not everyone has to believe like you. But it's equally true that not everyone has to "accept" or ignore what bigots believe in.

    "So what if they won't publicly say we aren't sinners? I don't care."

    I do. They actively promote an anti-gay religion, without even trying to neutralize its anti-gay elements. They say it's bad for "bridge building".

    The thing is, we don't need bridge builders when our fortress is under attack. More importantly, gay people aren't aliens. They are born and raised in straight homes. That's why homophobia isn't caused by the lack of bridges. It's caused by anti-gay preaching. All this "bridge building" talk is rather obfuscatory - especially when some churches are more gay-affirming than the Marin Foundation.

    Posted by: Eugene | Jul 1, 2010 6:31:46 PM

  25. Guess what, guys.

    It doesn't matter if Andrew believes that homosexuality is a sin or not. What matters is what he does about it. Or doesn't do.

    He doesn't campaign for anti-gay laws. He doesn't condemn folks. He doesn't stay away from Teh Gey. He doesn't look down on you.

    And here's what he does do: he tells other churches to knock off the homophobia.

    If you are looking for the world to agree with everything you believe - especially everything about religion - you're going to be waiting a while. And if you're going to insist that others MUST agree with you, then you are no better that the churches who do exactly that.

    I'd rather have a decent guy who wants to treat me fairly than someone who agrees with me but is a huge jerk.

    And as for the angry folk... do you even know what "a sin" is? Do you care? Do you know what Andrew thinks "a sin" is or what that means?

    You've just decided that here is someone convenient to hate so you're going to hate him.

    Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Jul 1, 2010 8:06:54 PM

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