Sunday, June 21, 2009

LONG ISLAND PRIDE PARADE & FESTIVAL

Gerry Dantone and Cliff Bernstein hold the CFI-LI banner high.

Me, holding the CFI-LI banner with Richard Schloss.

I was proud to march with some of my fellow CFI-LI members in the 19th Annual Long Island Pride Parade in Huntington, New York, on Sunday, June 14, 2009. Our group (secular humanists) was situated in the parade between Long Island GLBT Baby & Me, which was composed of lesbian moms, aunts, sisters, mothers, grandmas and nanas and their toddlers and babies in strollers, and a congregational church which accepts and affirms gay marriage. So much of what the Pride Festival is about is family — these are parents, children, wives, husbands, struggling for affirmation of their rights as families. It is worthwhile to remember that secular humanism is also a family cause.

As parents, we have the responsibility to raise our children in a happy, healthy, loving environment. This includes providing them with a strong sense of ethics; teaching them to value reason; nurturing their natural abilities and whenever possible, instilling a sense of wonder and joy in the cosmos. This applies to humanists and believers alike.

It’s also important to remember that many atheists, agnostics and freethinkers are in the closet. Like so many gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders, they are trapped by a fear of judgment, or concerns that they could lose their jobs, socioeconomic standing, or alienate their families and friends. I came out as an atheist more than a decade ago. I’ll tell you, the last twelve years have not exactly been a cakewalk.

But the Pride Parade gives me hope. I saw three generations of open GLBT’s last Sunday. I hope someday to see as many generations of open secular humanists.

In the preface to his 1957 book Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Related Essays, Bertrand Russell concludes that “The world needs open hearts and open minds, and it is not through rigid systems, whether old or new, that these can be derived.”
This is as true now as it was fifty years ago.

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