http://www.bostonpride.org/multicalendar.phpWhen I entered the church, an older black man in a suit handed me my program. I was thrown by this because the only other church contexts I have for this is the Kingdom Hall I pass all the time and Somerville Community Baptist. However, the program informed me that:
Saturday June 9th
Pride Interfaith Service
At the Union United Methodist Church, 485 Columbus Avenue, Boston.
The guest speaker will be the Rev. Troy Perry, Founder of the Metropolitan Community Church
Pride Service at Arlington Street Church
This year's theme is "Wake Up!"
Service will feature music written and performed by queer artists.
Arlington Street Church, 351 Boylston Street, Boston
In 2000 United Union Methodist Church made history by unanimously voting to become the nation's first African-American Methodist church to officially welcome and include gay and lesbian worshipers.Reading that was one of the many times during church that morning that I got choked up/teary.
Another moment was hearing a woman behind me say, "We got married a few months short of our 25th anniversary."
I got there a few minutes before 9:30, and despite the program listing both a Pre-Service Jazz Performance and a Pre-Service Vocal Performance, I heard no music. I don't remember when it actually started as I'd gotten absorbed in reading the program and listening to the people behind me. I know it ended around 9:55, at which point the vocal performance started, and lasted for 10 minutes. The last song they sang was called "Shine on Me," and I really liked it, and now I can't find the lyrics (there was something about "take off my bushel basket").
The Processional began with two people holding these long poles with rainbow streamers as we sang "God of Grace and God of Glory," which I love. (I was introduced to it at First Churches Northampton, and had the chorus -- "Grant us wisdom, Grant us courage, for the facing of this hour ... for the living of these days" -- on my white board for ages.) I was totally crying.
We remained standing for the Sounding of the Shofar. (Yes, it was that much of an interfaith service. Before the service I had seen someone wearing a pink yarmulke. Win.)
Then the Call to Worship was sung in Hebrew (with both the Hebrew transliteration and the English translation printed in the bulletin).
['Eli, 'Eli,]Next was something called "Lighting of the Rainbow Candle" which was actually a series of extinguishing candles (I was reminded of Lent) and then re-lighting them. (And yes, it was a pseudo-menorah of different colored candles creating a rainbow.) Clergy from: Congregation Am Tivka (Brookline), Christian Science Church, Dignity/Boston, The Old South Church in Boston, Southern Baptist Convention, Old Cambridge Baptist Church, did readings (all printed in the bulletin, but I'm not up for a full type-up -- citation: "Lighting of the Rainbow Candle" by Dr. Norman Kansfield, 2005 Pride Interfaith Award Recipient). It began:
Oh hear my words,
that these things shall never end:
the sand and the sea,
the rush of the waters,
the thundering heavens,
the prayers of our heart;
the sand and the sea,
the rush of the waters,
the thundering heavens,
the prayers of our heart.
The darkness is, indeed, still in the world. That darkness continues to seek to destroy all that the holy one wants to give us.and then they went through Peace, Community, Love, Hope, Faith, with short bits about how each can be destroyed by the darkness. The ending reading was:
But the light still shines in the darkness. God is still with us. Beside us, before us, and behind us. There may be times when it seems as if the light is but a flickering spark, but it continues to live. And when we allow that light to live in us, to light our way, to illumine our decisions and to make our proclamations of our faith attractive to those who most need the light, then the light takes on again the capacity to brightly shine within our world. May this day find us bravely sharing the good news about the one who is the light of our world.The United Union Methodist Church Men's Choir did the Anthem and yeah, JoeF. would love these people. (Okay, that sounds sarcastic, but I mean it seriously, 'cause it's that high energy music and reminded me so much of the gospel concert at Somerville Community Baptist.)
Next was Greeting from Pride Interfaith Coalition. (Despite it having clearly said so on the Boston Pride calendar, it hadn't registered for me that this was an interfaith service until I actually walked in and got my program. It's in fact their 30th year -- the longest running such service in the country. And Rev. Perry said it's the only one he knows of that has an interfaith service on the morning of Pride. Of course now I'm all jazzed about getting involved with the Pride Interfaith Coalition.)
I had already read in the program that the Offering would be donated to the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry, but when he said that they usually give a portion of their plate collection to an LGBT organization but this year would be giving 100% of their plate collection to the RCFM, I got all choked up.
Then there was the Welcome from United Union Methodist Church (from their pastor, whom the program noted was the 2002 Pride Interfaith Award Recipient). He said, "The Psalmist says: how lovely it is when God's people dwell together in unity," and said very eloquent touching things, the phrase which I particularly remember was about being "thankful for the journey." He talked about this interfaith service being for anyone on the journey, be they Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and even made light-hearted (but not entirely dismissive) references to... and I totally don't remember the phrasing... "people who don't want to name God."
He said something about being a "celebrating church," which I thought was an interesting phrase.
He said that people say Methodists are high church, and preparing for this Interfaith service he's been hanging out with Episcopalians a lot and Methodists are so not high church :) In the spirit of interfaith and high and low church, he had them play a welcome on the piano and the organ.
The Musical Offering was "Ubi Caritas et Amor" (from "Quatre motets sur des thèmes grégoriens" Op. 10) -- sung in Latin, but with both Latin and English provided in the bulletin.
The Hebrew Scripture Reading (Numbers 15:11-16) was prefaced by this whole Hebrew chanting thing.
Hymn: "I've Got Peace Like a River"
The Christian Scripture Reading was Luke 4:16-19, and the woman reading it totally PC-ed up the God language, but unobtrusively, which I appreciated.
The Rev. Elder Troy Perry, founder of MCC, received the Pride Interfaith Award.
The program had a whole page about him, including: "In 1969, he performed the first public same-sex wedding in the United States, and in 1970 he filed the first-ever lawsuit seeking legal recognition for same-gender marriages." Wow.
He was wearing a red stole with a connecting patch that had that downward facing dove image. In my head I was like, "Hee, Pentecost!"
He said he comes from a Southern Baptist Pentecostal background, so he had a 3-point sermon :)
He talked about Nelson Mandela and then shared a story about when the MCC building kept getting set on fire and it was Easter and there were news crews and then this goth bedecked woman in combat boots showed up and said she was with some radical lesbian feminist group or something (ALFA?) and she wasn't religious, but she had 40 dykes surrounding the building and no one was gonna set it on fire that day. He said he had prayed for angels and had never imagined they would appear in the form of "lesbians in combat boots." I loved that story.
This made me uncomfortable as it always does, 'cause God doesn't always heal people, even people with lots of faith and lots of prayers. He talked about a parishioner being diagnosed with AIDS and all his doctors said he was going to die, and Rev. Perry said, "You're not going to die with this, you're going to live with this," and the guy had been given six months to live and he lived for four years. I validate that as a sentiment to change your attitude around living with a terminal illness, but many people given six months to live do in fact live only six months (or less).
Sidenote: Rev. Perry and his partner have been together for 22 years, and his partner has been diagnosed HIV+ for the past twenty.
He talked about enacting heaven on earth.
He said that people ask him, "Why do you wanna marry?" and he says, "Because I was raised by heterosexuals."
He said that when his mother joined MCC, people said, "Oh, the first heterosexual to join MCC," and she had never heard that word before and was like, "I never knew what I was before, but now I know; I'm a heterosexual," so he invited all the heterosexuals in the audience to "come out of the closet" and stand up. There were about a dozen, out of a congregation of a couple hundred.
Sidenote: At Festival I was told that there was someone with a "I'm Proud of My Hetero Parents" sign, which I must have missed (thanks to fox1013 for doing my Flickr scouring for me).
The Prayers were a responsive liturgy printed in the bulletin, and the Leader's opening section had two paragraphs, but he paused in between them, so the congregation just went ahead and said the next line ("We pray for all people in their daily life and work"). The guy then said, "That was actually my line -- but we do pray for all people in their daily life and work."
Rep. Byron Rushing, MA State Rep. from 9th Suffolk, prefaced the Offering.
He said: "Full disclosure: I'm an Episcopalian, and I apologize for ever letting the Methodists go."
He talked about our legislators being called to do what they were elected to do: "stand for justice," which was the best articulation I've heard of why elected legislators should vote "our" way on the gay marriage issue even if a majority of their constituents don't agree.
He quoted Frederick Douglass: "If we ever get free from the oppressions and wrongs heaped upon us, we must pay for their removal. We must do this by labor, by suffering, by sacrifice, and if needs be, by our lives and the lives of others." (1857)
The Offering music was a really slow (though not uncomfortable to listen to) version of "Over the Rainbow" and then Fred Small's "Peace Is":
Peace is the bread we breakRabbi Devon Lerner of RCFM did the Charge to the Community, and then Rev. Quinn Caldwell from The Old South Church in Boston did the Benediction, and then we did the Recessional Hymn: "Will the Circle be Unbroken" which had the Chorus printed in the bulletin for us to sing along:
Love is the river rolling
Life is a chance we take
When we make this earth our home
Gonna make this earth our home.
Will the circle be unbrokenIt was at this point about 11:45. There was a serious line for the restrooms (both of them -- "potty parity!" one man exclaimed) so it was even later by the time I got out.
By and by Lord, by and by
There's a better home a-waitin'
In the sky, Lord, in the sky
The interfaith service program had lots of ads from area church/queer organizations and one of them included:
Episcopal Divinity School: Advancing God's Mission of Justice, Compassion, and ReconciliationMy recurrent theme is "developing a contemporary queer Christian sexual ethics," and I just generally keep engaging in the queer&Christian issue, so of course I looked it up on the EDS website:
Courses of Interest for the GLBTQ Community:
June 2007: Understanding Queer Christian Theologies (June 18-27, 207)
T/PT 3050 Understanding Queer Christian TheologiesThe 18th is when I start my Monday/Wednesday ASL class, and the EDS class is every day, but I'm seriously tempted to just attend the days I can anyway. (This is also gonna mean I go to the gym in the mornings and never sleep.) ::looks at the Cont.Ed. material further:: Okay, I can audit a mini-course (which maybe this is?) for $400, plus a one-time $50 registration fee. Awesome. I've been spoilt by my Harvard employee discount (though I feel like I saw something about Harvard subsidizing non-Harvard courses for employees, though I'm not sure I could swing that as a non-degree candidate auditing a course).
Medeiros and others
Class runs until Wednesday, June 27, 2007
6:30 - 8:00 pm public lectures and 8:00 - 9:30 pm course lectures. (Students taking for full credit must attend both lectures.)
I didn't want to wait until the sure-to-be-overpriced Festival to eat, so I went to Amsterdam Cafe which I had passed on Friday. I was looking at the menu on the wall and a guy asked me, "Are you lost?" He looked really familiar, so I cheerily said "Hi," but after a beat's worth of quickly running through the various queer communities I've been in and coming up empty I said, "Remind me where I know you from?"
"Judge Baker, your mother."
After that it took me only a moment to process and realize it was Kevin. He joked that I didn't recognize him without his bow tie.
We didn't talk for very long 'cause he said he was running late (I didn't ask if he was going to Pride).
I got an Avocado&Brie roll-up (and a pistachio frozen yogurt).
I hadn't really planned my parade-watching since I'd anticipated already being at Arlington St. Church, so after I'd eaten I just took the Green Line to Arlington Sta.
The parade was already passing by (it was quarter of one at that point -- I should have gone to Govt. Ctr. to watch the parade come in to City Hall Plaza). I followed it up Boylston a bit, turned on to Charles, and settled down.
I don't know how much of the parade I'd missed, but there was still about a half-hour's worth of it to follow.
I saw a group with a banner saying, "We are tomorrow's queer clergy," and was pleased and then saw their other banner saying they were from ANTS and realized that was Ari's group. We did in fact see each other and waved and blew kisses.
The Cambridge Welcoming group was much smaller than I was expecting (I was reminded at church the next day that Annual Conference was this weekend, hence no Tiffany, Will, Marla, or Ron).
I was pleased to see so many politicians (and corporations -- TJX, Sovereign Bank, Verizon -- which was tossing out bead necklaces). Yeah it's tokenizing, but the fact that support of the queer community is something they're advertising as a positive thing... we've come a long way.
Seeing the near-naked men on floats I thought, "This is one of the reasons people protest pride parades," but really they were pretty tame (though I realize I may be desensitized).
I was pleased to see so many church groups, though like 90% of them were UU.
It's a shame that college is out for the summer, so there weren't many higher ed groups (I only noted ANTS and EDS), and there's a separate Youth Pride, which good for them, but that means not a lot of teens represented here -- though I did see the Newton South GSA.
There was at least one just random family marching, which was neat.
There's been backlash against Boston Pride for its theme, so when I saw contingents with signs like, "Supporting militarism is not queer," I thought, "Good for you, Boston Pride." [Not because I think Boston Pride was being pro-military, and not because I even oppose militarism necessarily, but because they clearly weren't shutting out their dissenters.]
As I said, the two that particularly made me choke up were the "Sober and Proud" contingent and the couple with the sign saying "52 years together, 3 years married" (whom I think were a male-male couple, which is even more remarkable). But throughout I kept feeling so happy and "Oh, my people," and suchlike, despite not expecting to have such a reaction at all.
Oh, and near the end was a drag queen in red stilleto pumps who said, "My shoe broke, and I'm still fucking marching!"
With the parade scheduled to begin at noon and the route being ~1.7miles, I figured meeting at a Festival booth (I chose SpeakOut)at 1:30 would be fine. However, it was 1:25 when the parade finished passing where I was. I cut through the green and then up Boylston to Govt. Center, where the parade was still arriving. The sea of white tents made me realize how hopeless it would be to try to find the SpeakOut booth. I did see Jonah (working for MassEquality) and found the official Boston Pride merch booth so I could get my dogtag. I went up and down a fair number of rows of booths and then sort of stumbled into Ari. We moved to the Human Rights Campaign booth because they had big banners and thanks to cell phones were able to coordinate with fox1013&jadelennox as well as hedy.
One woman asked Ari where she got her skirt and to the answer that she got it from her mother so it was about 30 years old responded approvingly: "real vintage, not Old Navy vintage... wear it everywhere."
I saw a guy with a sign saying, "My daughter is bisexual, so I'm twice as proud." Win!
We visited the Bisexual Resource Center booth and while there was consensus that we were all "too pomo for a button," many of us purchased some anyway :)
One woman kinda poked her head in and was like, "Bisexual [something or other]." The woman holding her hand tugged her away, saying, "We're not bisexual."
I had a Smith Convocation deja vu moment when I saw a couple women with writing on their torsos and duct tape covering their nipples.
There was a drag queen I hadn't seen who had an amazing peacock regalia with matching parasol. The man standing next to zir had Amy's bag (which a man had already complimented her on earlier at the Festival). Classy!
The festival page said:
Saturday, June 9
12noon - 8pm
City Hall Plaza
Rain or Shine!
but by like 3pm, booths were closing down, and they took down the big balloon archway :(
Around 3:30 it started sprinkling rain and it seemed like dispersal time anyhow. I went with Ari and her sister to South Station. We ultimately decided to get food at Prudential Food Court and then Ari and I could hang out and her sister could go shopping (which was apparently what she wanted to do). She finished shopping (by which we mean browsing, 'cause hi it's the Pru) with plenty of time before their train, so we walked back. I wasn't super-confident as to how to get back, but I knew I could do it well enough that I would see stuff I recognized and know how to go before I got really lost. And we actually did really well.
I made them walk through the Prudential to the Copley exit, 'cause I really distrust myself leaving the Prudential proper, and then we walked to BPL, walked Boylston to Tremont, walked Tremont to Park St., and turned onto Winter St. to South Station. There may be more time-efficient ways to do it, but I felt straight lines (yes, we went "gaily forward") and right angles along major roads were best, rather than relying on "I think this will take us where we wanna go."
So yay for traveling success.