One of my friends Jack Harris, a professor and gay man, was recently at the San Fransisco gay pride parade this past weekend. He told me he would go to it through the eye of faith, and here are his wonderful reflections:
“Thoughts on Gay Pride San Francisco 2010:
Tim (my partner) and I (Jack) arrived, very excited but were pretty tired so we really didn’t get out until later the first evening on Friday. We attended a couple of parties in the South of Market Area. Lots of good music, food, dancing and socializing. My jet lag was pretty severe so I was not able to talk with folks as I would like but what I walked away from the first night was that the diversity of the gay community seems to manifest itself in very unique ways. The dance party we went to was mainly masculine, muscular guys who many didn’t feel as if they suffered much discrimination while in high school. A lot of these guys were very closeted during those years and were often jocks or popular guys that didn’t come out until later in life.
It seemed to me that a few guys I chatted with about faith said that they didn’t necessarily have the emotional/religious scarring that other who were more feminine did. A lot of these guys were in committed relationships like Tim and I. Not only were they your average joe kinda gay guy they, a few of shared that they had a church family in Bay Area. Not surprisingly, most were MCC, UCC, Episcopal and Lutheran. I DID wonder, about all the guys I DIDNT talk to. How many of them were out? How many of them knew Jesus? Heck, how many even had contact with their family? I would make a strong guess and say that were married men in the crowd–who mainly would come to an event like this as an escape from their “other life”. I went to bed thinking the gay community here is pretty diverse..and extremely large!
Saturday : We went to the Castro District which really can only be described a Gay Disneyland! An amazing collection of GLBT folks, shops and restaurants. This is clearly the epicenter of the GLBT community in SF. A walk down the street was also like visiting the United Nations. People from all walks of life, countries, races and nationalities. The whole range of humanity was/is present here. In general my interactions seemed to point out that most “locals” are very friendly and very willing to talk about almost anything! There doesn’t seem to be the unwillingness to talk about faith like you see in other places. In Atlanta for example, GLBT folks are pretty defensive when discussing Christianity: I guess because it’s the bible belt. Back to SF though, many had shared with me, that what irritated them most is the very intentional desire upon some Christian groups to demonize gay folks and treat us as issues rather than people. In general, I got the impression many had a spiritual foundation, but not necessarily a religious one.
After a wonderful morning of shopping we had lunch then went over to the festival at the civic center. I wonderful setting! Very spacious and had several performers..including the Back Street Boys which was unfortunate but oh well. lol. Every organization you can think of that would be GLBT or GLBT friendly was there. Several churches had tents but noticeable missing were the Evangelical Churches. In fact I didn’t even see any protesters there or the PRIDE Parade the next day.
After a disco nap we headed out on the town again and went to a few bars in the area south of market and chatted with several guys. I had asked a few if they had much experience with religious groups in the area and most say that had rarely if ever met any overtly negative Christian groups. What was even more interesting was that while many did not seem to have a Christian background, they didn’t seem to have a negative impression of Christianity. It seemed to be a live and let live kinda attitude. There didn’t seem to be the wounds inflicted that maybe other GLBT folks have.
Later in the Castro there was a shooting, one person was killed. This truly devastated the local folks because rarely is there violence in the area. Thankfully Tim and I were not close to the shooting and I went to bed thanking God for the protection he offered us–because it could have very easily been us.
Sunday, we slept until like noon since we had been up so late the night before. Sunday was the parade on market street and several GLBT Affirming Churches marched in the parade including Bp. Bruno of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern California, a spiritual leader in the inclusion of GLBT folks in the Episcopal Church.
Monday was a day of touring the Mission, Golden Gate, Grace Episcopal Cathedral then to bed early for our flight.
Soo..here I sit typing this at 35000 feet to keep awake! What I walked away from this experience, was that SF Pride brings together God’s people, Gay and Straight and from all walks of life and belief systems. I felt that if God would be present anywhere it would certainly be here. Tim and I had a great time. I wish I could take a group of group of less gay friendly Christians to Gay Pride SF, so that they could see for themselves, that GLBT people are people just like everyone else–who live and love, cry and celebrate, mourn, laugh, worry, stress, marry, work and sleep just like everyone else. Our differences are man made.
Grace Cathedral has an amazing labyrinth on the nave floor that you can walk and reflect on your spiritual life. I decided to do this while visiting and as I was thinking about our closing hours in SF…and what it all meant..an anglican hymn …”of the father’s love begotten..came to my mind for some reason…i will close with a few versus…
Of the Father’s love begotten
Ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega,
He the Source, the Ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see
Evermore and evermore.
One of the main things that I thought noticable was that when Jack asked folks about negativity from religious communities, most people said they had never encountered anything bad! Do you think that is just a San Fran thing? Or are there not many churches in/around the Castro? Or has everyone out there just figured out how to live with differing theologies? Interesting…
Thanks sooo much Jack!