March 23, 2005

Demonstration

Jeff called last Sunday. I met Jeff at a PFLAG meeting in Sacramento a few years ago. Since then, he has organized a GLBT support group in the county in which I live, and when possible I try to show him my support. Whenever Jeff calls, it's after 9:00p.m., and he always begins by saying, "Sorry if I called too late..." and I always respond, "It's alright, I just put the kids to bed, now is the best time to call," which is the truth.

Jeff wanted to let me know that a man named Randy Thomasson would be speaking locally on Tuesday. I had never heard of Randy Thomasson, so Jeff explained to me that he's the president of the largest anti-gay organization in California. Jeff said that he and several others were planning to gather outside the building where Thomasson would be speaking, to demonstrate with their presence their opposition to Thomasson's message, and he wanted to let me know in case I wanted to join them.

I think that perhaps I am the only local pastor Jeff knows who is open and affirming of GLBT people. That could be because I am the only local pastor who is open and affirming, though I don't know that for sure. What I do know is that I both wanted and didn't want to join them. I wanted to, because I wanted them to know that they had my support, but I didn't want to, partly because, as a pastor, I would be perceived as representing my congregation (something I'm not sure the congregation would want) and partly because I was chicken.

So I told Jeff I'd think about it, and that if I didn't get called to substitute teach on Tuesday, that I'd might be able to come. I wasn't committing to anything, you see. If, on Tuesday, I felt too uncomfortable, I wanted to be able to stay home without backing out of any commitment I'd made.

I waited for one of the local schools to call me to substitute teach. And one did, except that it was for Wednesday, not Tuesday. I couldn't come up with any other excuse, so at 11:00, one hour before the event was scheduled to begin, I got in my car and drove into town.

As I pulled onto the street where the event was taking place, the first thing I saw was a giant sign attached to the side of a camper truck that said "HOMOSEXUALITY=SIN." As I parked my car, two men got out of the truck carrying a large banner with similar sentiments. And I began to wonder, what are they so afraid of? I later learned that these two men didn't even live around here, that they came here from several counties away just to display their homophobia. It worked, too; they're on the front page of today's local newspaper.

I think that those who are the most outspoken against the GLBT community must really be paranoid. Does allowing equal rights to GLBT people, including marriage, really threaten the rights of everyone else? I fail to see it. I don't see how my own marriage is threatened or made less "sanctified" by allowing same sex marriages. If someone's marriage is threatened by same-sex marriages, then it seems to me that their marriage must not be very strong to begin with.

On the other hand, a part of me does understand the paranoia. Last month, when I was sick in bed with a fever, I kept hearing a voice inside my head saying that my illness was the work of terrorists, who had somehow laced the glue on envelopes with dormant flu viruses, which I had contracted and activated while paying my bills the week before. I was able to overcome this paranoia, however, because another voice inside me kept telling me that I was paranoid, and also because after only 24 hours, my fever went away. So I'm not really paranoid after all, at least not anymore; I'm just a little schizophrenic.

I sat in my car for a few minutes, thinking that it still wasn't too late to drive away and forget the whole thing, but then I saw Mary. Mary is a gray-haired lady from one of the churches in town, and she was already standing there on the sidewalk, holding a sign that she had made by taping two pieces of paper together and writing with a red marker, "Hate is not a Christian value." I looked at her, and her sign, and realized that her message is one that I need to be proclaiming as well. So I opened the door, stepped out, and went and stood by Mary on the sidewalk. Jeff and several members of his group were there as well. The two men from the pickup began shouting Bible verses at us, but I mostly ignored them, because I had decided I wasn't there for them. I wanted to be there for all those who had been kicked out, chased out, or made to feel unwelcome in the church. That is, after all, a part of my Easter message, that through Jesus, all are welcome to dwell with God, now and forever.

Shortly before I left, Jeff thanked me for my support. His gratitude was sincere. I said goodbye, got into my car, and left to go meet my wife for lunch.

4 comments:

reverendmother said...

Good for you!

If you know David Wilcox, his song "Fearless Love" was playing in my head while I read your post.

I am curious whether you wear a collar, and if so, if you wore one that day.

Danny said...

I've never heard of David Wilcox, but after your (reverendmother's) post, I checked out his website, and may buy a CD; it looks like good stuff.... No, I don't wear a collar. Few in my denomination do. I did identify myself as a pastor to some of the others there, but didn't feel like drawing too much attention to myself (for reasons good & bad, I suppose).

reverendmother said...

Yeah, I hear you. I'm PCUSA and we don't wear collars much. And given the diversity in the church I currently serve, it would be problematic for me to attend such a demonstration (although I could be rationalizing. boo). But it is the one time I could potentially see wearing a collar. I don't know.

the reverend mommy said...

Amen.
God doesn't hate fags, he hates FIGS. It's a translation error.
http://www.godhatefigs.com
(Ok, a weak attempt at humor.)