FROM CHARLESTON TO CASTRO STREET

The following is a personal blog spot written about GLIDE and recent events from Beverly, a member of the GLIDE Family.  We have cut and pasted Beverly’s blog here, in its entirety.

Glide Description-Unconditionally

Glide, Unconditionally

Last week, I filed silently into Glide Memorial Church on an evening after work. Inside the church sanctuary and adjacent to the entrance, I walked past the memorial posters with photos and names—Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton and Myra Thompson. Their faces were spread across the first pew, reserved entirely for them.

I found a spot in the middle of the many rows and took my seat. I looked around at the rainbow spectrum of people surrounding me. Eventually there were more than 350 of us. We had come to honor the nine people murdered in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, targeted because they were African American. I guessed that others there were like me, not knowing any of the dead personally. Yet we had all come to honor them as our kin.

Waiting quietly for the vigil to begin, I felt immediately at home despite typically having no connection to churches. Fifty feet above me were timbers installed in 1929 and painted with pastel flowers. The stained glass windows featured flowing patterns in bright greens, blues, reds. Banners hung around the perimeter. “We are all precious and accepted.” “Justice.” “Liberation.”

My tears started with the first words from the man who began the ceremony. Wearing a tee shirt emblazoned “Love Heals,” he told us, “We did not come here to tear down—we came here to lift people up. Thank you for your head and your heart. We will not break up. We will put together.” He read a powerful poem about his personal experience as an African American and concluded by leading us all in a chant, “Black lives matter.”

One by one, individuals stepped up to the altar to light a candle. Nine times, a flame was lit in tall green cylinders set on a bright green tapestry with two large red hearts. After each one, a speaker picked up a poster and showed us the photo while reading about the person whose life was taken. Between each reading, we all paused in silence to the chime of a metal singing bowl, reminiscent of the Buddhist retreats I have attended.

At tables around the church were Action Stations—places to share condolences with the Emanuel African Methodist Church, write letters to the South Carolina legislature to remove the Confederate flag, create a patch for a quilt of comfort and solidarity, take signs of protest and hope to share, record a video of what needed to be said, and a brainstorming list of “pathways/future actions to challenge racist structures and systems.”

Grief was just the first step. As the evening’s printed program said, it was a time to remember and a time to act.

______

The following morning, when the news of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage was announced early in the day West Coast time, the Bay Area community exploded in jubilation.

Just minutes after I awakened, horns were honking around town, even the boats in the harbor. At work, we cried and laughed and hugged each other. On the eve of Pride weekend, people flocked to San Francisco City Hall and Castro Street in spontaneous parties. Everywhere there was a celebration, whether it was at someone’s desk or filling the street. We smiled and greeted strangers, with a tangible flood of joy for the whole weekend.

On an ordinary weekday afterward, I found myself drawn to a personal pilgrimage alone, to express my gratitude more privately.

In the 1970s, 575 Castro Street in San Francisco was Harvey Milk’s photography shop and LGBT activist hub. It was the center for launching the campaign of the nation’s first openly gay man elected to prominent public office as well as a national movement—and the epicenter for events that ultimately led to Harvey’s assassination.

For the first time after decades living in the area, I visited the former camera store. Although it’s been nearly 37 years since Harvey’s death and Castro Camera is long gone, I needed to come here to honor his memory and the success he helped create. Today, the building is the home of the Human Rights Campaign Action Center and Store.

Harvey Milk-575 Castro Street door signSign on the front door of 575 Castro Street honoring Harvey Milk

Inside, among the clothing and mugs for sale, Harvey’s spirit was celebrated in photos and videos. On the wall was the quote that showed he knew what he was risking: “If a bullet should enter my brain, let the bullet destroy every closet door.”

It didn’t feel right to leave without buying something to further the cause. I left with a small rainbow pin for the bulletin board at my desk.

Standing on busy Castro Street outside, I said a silent thank you to Harvey. No candles, poems, or chimes this time. Just the tears.

A rainbow pin now prompts me to remember what one woman shared during the Glide vigil. “Love is more powerful than hate. We can overcome. We have practiced over decades radical acceptance. We are the hope. We must continue.”

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IN THE NAME OF LOVE

SJ Rocco

Rocco the cockapoo knows something special’s going on. From his perch on the comfy chair in front of the center bay window, he overlooks the intersection of Noe and 17th, two short blocks from the nexus of flag-waving celebration at Jane Warner Plaza, in the heart of the Castro. His soulful brown eyes survey the proceedings as revelers gather on the sidewalk below and news crews in helicopters circle overhead, filming the delighted throngs for posterity.

Dog meets dogma as Rocco makes his own sort of scent-led sense of the scene: fresh-faced twinks and Sapphic soccer moms representing the entire spectrum of gender and sexual identity, all looking fab in short shorts and sensible shoes, and carrying “Case Closed” signs; leather daddies sipping to-go lattes and reminiscing about the good-and-bad old days; moviegoers congregating around the Castro Theater, currently hosting the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival; and other pups out for a victory lap, their leash-led companions chatting excitedly about the morning’s landmark SCOTUS announcement. Rocco yaps playfully, aware of the flair in the air, even if he doesn’t quite understand that his two dads can now get hitched (if they decide to; c’mon, give us some time…) and be recognized and valued as equal to their breeder brethren across these newly enlightened United States.

A mere few miles away in the Tenderloin—so easily reachable via the inbound MUNI but so different in geographic and emotional terrain—a similar sort of frisson is felt around Ellis and Taylor, where GLIDE’s fifty-year history of radical inclusivity an unconditional love have more than a little to do with today’s supreme courtliness. Rev. Cecil Williams united same-sex couples way back in the ‘60s (take that, Injustice Scalia), and Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto has instigated similar wonders in more recent years. These are our leaders, our heroes in a community that embraced difference decades before “LGBT-friendly” was even a concept to be flaunted by hip hotels or satiric sitcoms. GLIDE has been here and queer from the get-go, not just accepting but truly embracing difference. Who wants the same old, same old, anyway?

Jane Austen (who Rocco would no doubt simply adore, if only he were into fiction) wrote, “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.” Bono, who has sung with the GLIDE Ensemble at Sunday Celebration, wrote of “pride in the name of love,” referencing MLK’s legacy of civil rights for all. Jane and Bono (and Rocco) get it: Pride (unlike prejudice) is a state of mind, a private satisfaction, a public celebration. In this case, pride goeth before the Fall only because Spring is the more desirable wedding season. So go ahead, put a ring on it. (By the way, in my alternate version of Austen’s masterpiece of matrimonial machinations, Elizabeth Bennet gives Mr. Darcy the boot and runs off with Charlotte Lucas.)

Married, single, gay, straight, gender queer, whatevs—join GLIDE in commemorating Pride on Sunday, June 28 beginning with Sunday Celebration at 9:00 AM and continuing with a collective sashay down the parade route (look for your GLIDE peeps in contingent number 43). The mighty GLIDE Ensemble will perform on the Main Stage, after which main man Cecil will perform a wedding ceremony. Check GLIDE’s website for deets.

Rocco and I will see you there.

Steven Jenkins, Director of Leadership Philanthropy

Posted in Uncategorized

IN THE NAME OF LOVE

Rocco the cockapoo knows something special’s going on. From his perch on the comfy chair in front of the center bay window, he overlooks the intersection of Noe and 17th, two short blocks from the nexus of flag-waving celebration at Jane Warner Plaza, in the heart of the Castro. His soulful brown eyes survey the proceedings as revelers gather on the sidewalk below and news crews in helicopters circle overhead, filming the delighted throngs for posterity.

Dog meets dogma as Rocco makes his own sort of scent-led sense of the scene: fresh-faced twinks and Sapphic soccer moms representing the entire spectrum of gender and sexual identity, all looking fab in short shorts and sensible shoes, and carrying “Case Closed” signs; leather daddies sipping to-go lattes and reminiscing about the good-and-bad old days; moviegoers congregating around the Castro Theater, currently hosting the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival; and other pups out for a victory lap, their leash-led companions chatting excitedly about the morning’s landmark SCOTUS announcement. Rocco yaps playfully, aware of the flair in the air, even if he doesn’t quite understand that his two dads can now get hitched (if they decide to; c’mon, give us some time…) and be recognized and valued as equal to their breeder brethren across these newly enlightened United States.

A mere few miles away in the Tenderloin—so easily reachable via the inbound MUNI but so different in geographic and emotional terrain—a similar sort of frisson is felt around Ellis and Taylor, where GLIDE’s fifty-year history of radical inclusivity an unconditional love have more than a little to do with today’s supreme courtliness. Rev. Cecil Williams united same-sex couples way back in the ‘60s (take that, Injustice Scalia), and Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto has instigated similar wonders in more recent years. These are our leaders, our heroes in a community that embraced difference decades before “LGBT-friendly” was even a concept to be flaunted by hip hotels or satiric sitcoms. GLIDE has been here and queer from the get-go, not just accepting but truly embracing difference. Who wants the same old, same old, anyway?

Jane Austen (who Rocco would no doubt simply adore, if only he were into fiction) wrote, “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity, to what we would have others think of us.” Bono, who has sung with the GLIDE Ensemble at Sunday Celebration, wrote of “pride in the name of love,” referencing MLK’s legacy of civil rights for all. Jane and Bono (and Rocco) get it: Pride (unlike prejudice) is a state of mind, a private satisfaction, a public celebration. In this case, pride goeth before the Fall only because Spring is the more desirable wedding season. So go ahead, put a ring on it. (By the way, in my alternate version of Austen’s masterpiece of matrimonial machinations, Elizabeth Bennet gives Mr. Darcy the boot and runs off with Charlotte Lucas.)

Married, single, gay, straight, gender queer, whatevs—join GLIDE in commemorating Pride on Sunday, June 28 beginning with Sunday Celebration at 9:00 AM and continuing with a collective sashay down the parade route (look for your GLIDE peeps in contingent number 43). The mighty GLIDE Ensemble will perform on the Main Stage, after which main man Cecil will perform a wedding ceremony. Check GLIDE’s website for deets.

Rocco and I will see you there.

Steven Jenkins, Director of Leadership Philanthropy

Posted in Uncategorized

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE WINS!!!

KO

There are historical moments that are forever seared in one’s memory. We will always remember where we were when:

  • Kennedy was shot,
  • King was assassinated,
  • Harvey Milk and George Moscone were killed,
  • The Challenger exploded,
  • The ’89 earthquake rumbled,
  • The Twin Towers collapsed,
  • Obama was elected,
  • Oscar Grant was killed at the Fruitvale station.

And now, where we were when the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land.

For the record, I was in Planet Fitness. My workout routine suddenly included cardio crying.

This day has come because the love that dared not say its name finally uttered it aloud. Came out of the closet and into the streets, held fast to hope against despair, organized and lobbied, believed when all felt lost, kept dreaming nonetheless, and reached for rights long denied.

We are surrounded this day by saints who are no longer with us, who made a way where there was no way, who inspired us to dream boldly and in rainbow colors, whose passion for justice fueled a fire in us when our souls were weary. We are here because of their tenacity and vision.

We are here today mindful, too, of those who will come after us: those LGBTQ children and youth, teenagers and young people. Because of today’s Supreme Court decision, we pray that their lives will be free from the stifling closets many of us had to emerge from, will be free from taunts and bullying, will be free from violence and oppression, because — thanks to the hard work of so many — the law of this land no longer deems our love and relationships less-than, unequal, and unworthy.

Let the love and joy that exists in our community bubble up and over the United States of America, so that this country can experience an infusion of love’s power, which it so desperately needs. For hatred still seeks to stifle, strangle, and destroy individuals, families and entire communities. Nowhere has that more vividly and violently expressed as it has in Charleston, SC, at the Emanuel AME Church. As Cedric Harmon aptly penned today: “Perhaps this is a moment for our nation and our movement to acknowledge that LGBT people of color are fighting for our lives — not just for our way to the altar.”

Today, let us celebrate! Let us live into the joy of this historic moment, living into love’s promise, and then, tomorrow, may we rise to once again commit ourselves to the work of justice, for communities of color, for the poor, for the differently abled, for children, for transfolk, as we, all of us, every single one of us, work together to help the moral arc of the universe bend towards justice.

Reverend Dr. Karen P. Oliveto, Senior Pastor

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UNCONDITIONAL LOVE WINS

KO

(Transcript from 6/26/15 speech in the Castro) There are historical moments that are forever seared in one’s memory. We will always remember where we were when:

  • Kennedy was shot,
  • King was assassinated,
  • Harvey Milk and George Moscone were killed,
  • The Challenger exploded,
  • The ’89 earthquake rumbled,
  • The Twin Towers collapsed,
  • Obama was elected,
  • Oscar Grant was killed at the Fruitvale station.

And now, where we were when the Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land.

For the record, I was in Planet Fitness. My workout routine suddenly included cardio crying.

This day has come because the love that dared not say its name finally uttered it aloud. Came out of the closet and into the streets, held fast to hope against despair, organized and lobbied, believed when all felt lost, kept dreaming nonetheless, and reached for rights long denied.

We are surrounded this day by saints who are no longer with us, who made a way where there was no way, who inspired us to dream boldly and in rainbow colors, whose passion for justice fueled a fire in us when our souls were weary. We are here because of their tenacity and vision.

We are here today mindful, too, of those who will come after us: those LGBTQ children and youth, teenagers and young people. Because of today’s Supreme Court decision, we pray that their lives will be free from the stifling closets many of us had to emerge from, will be free from taunts and bullying, will be free from violence and oppression, because — thanks to the hard work of so many — the law of this land no longer deems our love and relationships less-than, unequal, and unworthy.

Let the love and joy that exists in our community bubble up and over the United States of America, so that this country can experience an infusion of love’s power, which it so desperately needs. For hatred still seeks to stifle, strangle, and destroy individuals, families and entire communities. Nowhere has that more vividly and violently expressed as it has in Charleston, SC, at the Emanuel AME Church. As Cedric Harmon aptly penned today: “Perhaps this is a moment for our nation and our movement to acknowledge that LGBT people of color are fighting for our lives — not just for our way to the altar.”

Today, let us celebrate! Let us live into the joy of this historic moment, living into love’s promise, and then, tomorrow, may we rise to once again commit ourselves to the work of justice, for communities of color, for the poor, for the differently abled, for children, for transfolk, as we, all of us, every single one of us, work together to help the moral arc of the universe bend towards justice.

Reverend Dr. Karen P. Oliveto, Senior Pastor

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SANCTUARY FROM HATE

On Tuesday, June 23, more than four hundred people gathered in the GLIDE Sanctuary to remember, to grieve, to act, in response to the deadly shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Church that left 9 people dead and the nation’s soul shattered. It was a somber moment, as we sat silently together as the evening’s shadows lengthened. One at a time, each victim’s name was announced, a candle was lit, a brief bio was read, and then a ringing of bell punctuated the otherwise still Sanctuary.

“Sanctuary” is defined as “a place of safety or refuge”. One definition went so far as to say, “immunity afforded by refuge in such a place.” For African Americans, the Black Church has been the center of empowerment, where the confines of racism could be removed so lives, families and communities could thrive. Birthed out of segregation, when blacks were sent to the balcony (or even out the door) of white churches, the Black Church has played a critical role in the Civil Rights movement. This has not gone unnoticed to white supremacists. Black churches are all-too-often their targets, seeking to squelch the power and possibilities of liberation and freedom that the Black Church offers.

On Tuesday night, we at GLIDE came together. Our groans that were once “sighs too deep for words” were breathed out. Our tears fell. We held on to each other for comfort. We experienced Sanctuary.

But our time together didn’t end there: as the vigil ended, we turned to acts of resistance, which is also what Sanctuary offers. In a place of safety, one has the space to imagine a better world. Those who gathered on Tuesday went from one Action Station to another, writing letters of condolences to the Emanuel AME congregation, creating squares for a quilt that will be sent to the church, creating signs of protest, hope and solidarity, writing to South Carolina legislators to take down the Confederate flag, and coming together to dream other acts of resistance and justice-making so that we can challenge and dismantle the systems and institutions that continue to foster racism.

This is what we do at GLIDE—we don’t run to the sanctuary to hide from life’s harshness. We come together to face it honestly, with open hearts. In the Sanctuary community, we find strength as well as companions who will help us face the future with hope. In the safety of Sanctuary, we challenge one another to live into the dream of love and justice we experience together.

Together, we dream a world where the chains of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, and all other oppressive –isms are broken, so that every person can live safe, free, unfettered lives. We dream a time when the whole world becomes a Sanctuary…

— Reverend Karen Oliveto, Pastor

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FROM JANICE AND CECIL…

We join with the GLIDE Leadership Team in a message of condolence and comfort to the Charleston, South Carolina communities, and the Emanuel AME Church family.

We’ve taken a moment to reflect upon our history and the depth of significance of the imbedded effects of racism on our society. We both have experienced slavery and racial injustice…from grandparents, parents, and in our own struggles for civil rights; against racial profiling, violence, and incarceration without justification. We have joined with communities for justice against the institutionalization of racism, classism, homophobia and sexism in the most influential American systems for the past five decades. We continue to be shaken, appalled, and shocked by the horrific toll on human life from too many acts of gun violence, hatred and terrorism.

We have learned much about the essential human capacity for love, for understanding, and for transformation. We know that when we can make possible the irresistible spirit of acceptance, that in seeing each other as human beings, change is possible.

GLIDE is a beloved community committed to being the home, the place, where all people belong, no matter what their circumstances, a place of enduring hope. We must remain steadfast in these times of despair and anger and disillusionment to continue to be the beacon for all people… to experience the power of Love, the power of Unconditional Acceptance, and our vision for radical inclusivity. We remain committed to our movement of non-violence.

We hold the community of Charleston in our prayers, action, and in our hearts. We grieve with the families and loved ones of those at AME Church who have been lost to this act of violence. We send our love and condolences to them. We continue to hold up our conviction – like so many candles of light – that Love will overcome hatred, and our strength, courage and determination to provide the avenues of hope for those who have been marginalized or sucked into the whirlpools of hatred and despair. We will prevail.

We love you, and thank you for your commitment, courage, and love,

Janice and Cecil

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GLIDE Fried Chicken! #friedchicken #feedthehungry Thanks go out to our great volunteers from Clearslide. #clearslide #glidefamily $2,345,678. #thankswarrenbuffett #GLIDE ensemble performing for the #WarrenBuffett #Countdown #PowerOfOneLunch

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