Small steps, LGBTQ allies and faith...

Just as I never thought I would live to see the day a person of color was elected as the President of the United States, I never believed that marriage equality would be argued before the Supreme Court in my life time.  "I believe, I believe, Lord, help my disbelief." So today, during the front end of Holy Week, I want to return thanks to God for the slow but very real changes taking place in my homeland.  In 2013 the majority of Americans support marriage equality for all people.

Tomorrow my daughter Jesse will be coming up from Brooklyn to visit for an evening before the Great Three Days.  A few months before she was born, her mother and I were transferred from the Kansas City United Farm Worker boycott office to work on a campaign in Los Angeles.  During that time, one of the men on my team, Kevin, was busted in a public restroom for solicitation.  After we got him bailed out, I sat and talked with him about what had happened because, truth be told, I was very green about the whole gay world in 1976.  To make a long story short, he spent a few hours over tea trying to bring this very straight, white middle class boycott leader up to speed about his experience of homophobia, entrapment and so much more.  We became dear friends and while our paths parted after the 1976 election, I hold him close in prayer to this day.

In 1977, we left the farm workers movement so that I could complete college on the road towards seminary.  And as fate would have it, we relocated to San Francisco and moved into the Haight.  As we cruised the city looking for apartments to rent so I could finish my political science degree at SF State, we often passed through the Castro.  And with total innocence I remember saying to my wife:  "I don't know, but I think there are a lot of gay guys living here, don't you?"  (This often brings down the house at GLBTQ gatherings  today but back then I was totally serious.)  Everywhere you looked, "Castro clones" were grooving on the streets and Harvey Milk had just been elected a city supervisor.  In time, we wound up in a small Methodist church in the Haight and the pastor's wife was an assistant to Mayor George Moscone.  We were at their home cooking dinner with Bill  waiting for Jean to arrive when word broke out that both Moscone and Milk had been assassinated by Dan White.

There is much more to say, of course, mostly old war stories of learning how to become a straight ally but these tales really only interest other old straight allies.  So I pray tonight that the Supreme Court will be led by the Spirit of God found in the exodus, in the resurrection of Jesus, in the inspiration of Mohamed, in the enlightenment of the Buddha, in the quest for women's suffrage and civil rights for all that we might take another step on the road towards freedom.  Lord, may your will be done...

On Sunday evening, after confirming six sweet young teens into the community of faith, I received an invitation to be a part of a film being made by some LGBTQ teens in our town.  They received a grant to create a resource to help other young teens find comfort and solace in their discernment - and wanted to include some straight allies.  Last year, after a bullying incident, the group's resource people invited me to visit and talk about the love of Jesus rather than the hatred, fear and homophobia that so often infects the church.  Again, there is much that could be said about this conversation - they were so precious and real and vulnerable and sacred - and I was deeply moved to be welcomed after all the hatred Christians have expressed.  Later two of the guys stopped by our jazz gig that night and it felt so good to welcome them into the music.  And now they've asked me to come back and be with them as a part of their film resource to help other young people... I even heard back from the group's counselors that they will join us for our "DISORIENTATION" meditation in music on Good Friday.

When I first came to town, we had a sign posted on the front of the church:  QUESTIONS WELCOMED HERE.  This same LBGTQ group held an art show and our sign was featured - only the comments were, "They lie... no church wants us... they say they are open but they really hate us."  And now, after time and many small steps, we find we are allies in love.

Over and over I find myself praying, "I believe, Lord but help my disbelief."  And over and over again God takes me deeper into compassion and the way of solidarity.  I kept thinking of my new GLBTQ friends as we practiced this song tonight for Good Friday and I will dedicate it to them.


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