A Great Day in the Tenderloin: GLIDE Sunday Streets Block Party

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Written By Caroline Gold, Amber Zeise, Gabriella Rodgers

People called the Tenderloin District in San Francisco ‘the last circle of hell, because no matter how quickly you drove through it, you couldn’t help seeing the poor, the addicted, the sick, the homeless, and the mentally ill, many of them lying if not dying in the streets. You couldn’t look away from wildly dressed sex workers of all genders (there were more than two) getting clubbed by the police. You’d see flophouses, whorehouses, drug and porno houses, runaway teenagers selling their bodies, cruising johns, and ex-cons. By reputation, the Tenderloin was a filthy, seedy, crime-ridden hellhole that nobody wanted to visit.”  – Rev. Cecil Williams and Janice Mirikitani, Beyond the Possible

G15SunSts-022On an average day in the San Francisco Tenderloin neighborhood, the blocks leading up to GLIDE are crowded with people who live on the margins lining up for daily free meals, shelter reservations and other much needed services. People on the streets appear to be lying on the sidewalks or loitering on street corners. Sunday, July 12, 2015 disrupted what some would consider your average day in the Tenderloin, it was a great day in the Tenderloin!

G15SunSts-252Sunday Streets is an open festival encouraging recreation, community activities, and fun in the streets of San Francisco. In honor of the event, GLIDE transformed Ellis Street between Jones and Leavenworth into our very own block party. With numerous streets blocked off to automobile traffic, the Tenderloin welcomed both community residents and outsiders into the festivities. Embracing the uniqueness of the Tenderloin has been integral to GLIDE’s history since Rev. Cecil Williams opened the doors of GLIDE Church to all in 1963.

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Kristen Growney Yamamoto, GLIDE’s Co-Executive Director shared, “GLIDE loves the people who live in the Tenderloin. Everyday, they exude beauty, resilience, and potential. Sunday Streets offers a chance for this community to come together in celebration.” We witnessed the community come alive through dance and connection under the rare San Francisco sunshine. Yamamoto continues, “The Tenderloin is our home. Because of that and our belief in the people here, we were inspired to create a special and unique contribution for the entire neighborhood and GLIDE family.”

TG15SunSts-122he party welcomed people from all walks of life with a large scale LEGO build of the GLIDE Logo hosted by Play-Well TEKnologies. Kids, parents, and neighbors worked together all day to build a life-size GLIDE heart. Jeff Harry, the Vice President of Marketing and Fun noted, “I believe building the GLIDE LEGO heart as a collective group embodied what it means to be a part of the community. Everyone contributes their own unique piece to the puzzle.” It was inspiring to see such a wide variety of people come together to create a one-of-a-kind piece of art. He continued, “The connections are real and genuine, and isn’t that what people are looking for in life?” The energy around the collaboration was contagious, and it was almost impossible to get near the project without wanting to participate in the fun.

THEONFurther down the block, Pastor Theon Johnson III and GLIDE’s congregational life team hosted a large-scale Jenga tournament for all who were interested in participating. The competition grew fierce as various members of the community stepped forward to challenge one another. The crowds that formed throughout the day were energetic in cheering on each competitor. Theon embraced the nature of the competition and the day as a whole when he remarked, “Each day, GLIDE works to equip people with the resources they need to gain control over their lives through the power of storytelling. For five hours, 2015 Sunday Streets provided an opportunity for the TL to craft another story.” The TL story is not always an uplifting one, but as Theon shared, “GLIDE joined community partners in creating an alternative narrative with our community.”

G15SunSts-133In addition to the fun and interactive activities described above, many of GLIDE’s programs were stationed in tents throughout the block. GLIDE staff from the Women’s Center; the Family, Youth, and Childcare Center; the Family Resource Center; the Walk-In Center; Men In Progress; Recovery; and the HIV/HEP C programs spent the day providing information and engaging in edutainment activities with the community. We spoke to Stephanie Gonzalez, a member of the GLIDE women’s center staff, and she said, “The core value that I see is unconditional love, that’s what I see out there! I see every race, I see kids; you just see everybody having a good time.”

G15SunSts-393Twitter team members volunteered and supported the GLIDE staff in the production of this year’s event. Adejire Bademosi, Twitter’s Community Outreach Fellow, echoed these sentiments when she commented, “GLIDE is a model of unconditional love. It’s truly an impactful organization that ties everyone together.” To top it all off, those who participated in these activities received a raffle ticket and were able to select their favorite San Francisco Giants giveaway items as prizes.
PhotoboothTowards the end of the block, professional face painters turned kids and adults alike into super heroes, rainbows, and animals, to name a few. To capture the memories, we, the GLIDE’s Special Events, Civic and Social Innovation interns, created and ran our own photo booth, which included a number of funky costume accessories. Working the photo booth allowed us the unique opportunity to engage with almost everyone at the event. It is not everyday that these individuals experience joy in their lives, but we captured the smiling faces of parents and their children, GLIDE staff, program participants, volunteers, and more.

Holding the entire event together at the very end of the block was DJ King Most. Here, all sectors of the community gathered and enjoyed dancing to his beats all day long. DJ King Most expressed, “Giving the neighborhood a few hours of escape via dancing, singing, and listening to music in an otherwise tough environment was humbling and genuinely moving.” Stephanie agreed when she said, “I love dancing, I think it just brings everybody together. A lot of times you may see just the young people dancing, but I saw people getting out of their wheelchairs, okay? I saw people on their canes, you know, like still trying to dance, and it just is awesome how we all can just hear this one song and fly [to the dance floor].” And we ran right along with them; dancing until sweat dripped down our faces. The community was not divided into program participants and providers or homeless and housed, but instead became a group of people experiencing the joy of freedom alongside one another.

DANCE

G15SunSts-005Finally, as attendees exited the block, they had the opportunity to write a personal note answering the prompt, “I love GLIDE because…”

The Tenderloin neighborhood has been defined as a place full of hardship and high-stress situations but Sunday’s festivities offered an opportunity for relief. Dori Caminong, Manager of Special Events and Civic + Social Innovation exclaimed, “The 400 block of Ellis was HOT and we, the Tenderloin, went HARD! We Jenga’d, danced, played, built, learned, loved, and lived together as the beloved community.”

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The neighborhood was full of smiles and laughter. Strangers from both in and outside of the Tenderloin community came together to pose for pictures, dance down the soul train line, and simply have a good time. Dori continued, “The blissed out faces of block party goers were deeply inspiring and created a beautifully human experience powered by unconditional love and acceptance. It was an honor to curate this moment for the GLIDE family.” As new members of the GLIDE family, we felt lucky to experience the vibrancy and life that the community has to offer.

To see the full photography of GLIDE’s Sunday Streets Block party, visit GLIDE’s Facebook page.

CarolineCaroline Gold is a junior studying Human Development and Psychological Services at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. On campus, she is primarily involved in Peer Health Exchange, through which she teaches comprehensive health education classes in Chicago public schools. This summer, Caroline is interning in the Special Events Department at GLIDE, where she hopes to discover a balance between direct service and administrative work. 



GABRIGabriella Rodgers is a fourth year majoring in Sociology at the University of California Berkeley. She is involved in the Black community and racial justice movement on her campus. At GLIDE she interns under the Special Events and Fund Development departments, looking to gain knowledge on how non-profit organizations support themselves and reach out to their community.



AMBERAmber Zeise studies Psychology and Gender and Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. On campus, she is involved in the Body Positive movement and sexual assault awareness and prevention. At GLIDE, Amber is interning for Dori Caminong in Special Events in order to learn innovative ways to educate the masses about social movements in hopes of incorporating this into her future. 





									
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NOW OPEN: THE TENDERLOIN MUSEUM

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Reverend Cecil Williams, in front of the “Church of Change” exhibit at the Tenderloin Museum.

After six years of planning, prodding, and devotion, Mr. Randy Shaw and a large team of supporters has made the Tenderloin Museum a reality. The effort, fully supported by Mayor Ed Lee, has produced a wonderful space on the corner of Leavenworth and Eddy, right in the heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin. The museum tells the story of how the Tenderloin has developed since it was razed by the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire. It is a story of vice, crime, revelry, sex, and acceptance.

Only two blocks away from the museum, in the very center of the Tenderloin, GLIDE stands proudly to serve the needs of the underprivileged. Reverend Cecil Williams was honored today by Mr. Shaw, who spoke of GLIDE’s long history of acceptance of all people. He spoke specifically about how it was GLIDE that kicked off support of gays and lesbians in the 1960s, a fact that goes largely unknown. Mayor Lee, flanked by Cecil and GLIDE’s Janice Mirikitani, spoke of GLIDE’s leadership in bridging the widening gap between those that have and those that have not. Ms. Tho Ti Do, the leader from Vietnamese Youth Development Center, spoke about developing the VYDC at GLIDE, where she rented space years ago. In fact, she and Mr. Shaw met at GLIDE in 1980 while he also rented space here as the original Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic. In his own comments, Cecil spoke of the Tenderloin as being on the cutting edge of social justice and acceptance of all individuals.

The Tenderloin Museum is small and compact and wonderfully instructive about a community in San Francisco that often goes overlooked. It will be a magnet for people that otherwise would not come to the Tenderloin to visit, and who will directly help the local community by frequenting great restaurants, shops, and other artistic venues. As pointed out by Mayor Lee, there is a groundswell of investment coming into the Tenderloin, fully supported by the City and County of San Francisco. The Tenderloin Museum displays the history, which will inform the future.

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OVERCOME THE SEPARATION MINDSET

150710 Zoe Shulman

The following is an edited version of an article written by Miss Zoe Shulman, 7th Grader.

Last summer, an interest in GLIDE Memorial Church was sparked in me. I attended a camp held at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, and served lunch there everyday for a week. During my first day, I felt terrified. The plan was to offer meals and feed the homeless, the strangers I had been discouraged from making eye contact with all of my young life. This was a new and totally unfamiliar experience for me, so for the first 15 minutes, I was paralyzed out of fear. Looking back now, I know I had nothing to be afraid of. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

After that first lunch service, my fellow campers and I sat at one of the tables where we had just served lunch. We talked about our service, and were offered the food that Glide had served that day. I politely declined, once more out of fear of the unknown, and ate my own bagged-lunch.

The next day, when we returned to GLIDE, I worked at the GLIDE Coffee House. The Coffee House is where people with disabilities or families can go to eat. It is much smaller than GLIDE’s general mess hall, which made me more comfortable because there were fewer people there to take care of. I saw that the people who work in the Coffee House were strong communicators, which was important because some of the people who eat there are tightly wound, don’t speak English or have other challenges that they need help with. Over the course of those two days, I had built some confidence. I approached the first guest to offer him a tray of lunch. He was in a wheelchair due to severe injuries on his legs and I said, “Here is your tray, my name is Zoe, and if you need anything, don’t hesitate to ask me.” This man responded with, “Thank ya, Zoe,” and just that statement alone made me feel many different emotions at once. I thought, “How could a man living on the streets with those injuries be so kind?” That was the first time I realized that people aren’t so different after all, even those who lead different lives than we do.

One example of this is a woman named Iris. Iris works at GLIDE, and her story is one of heartbreak and triumph. Iris was the single mother of four, when her world was turned upside-down due to a tragic loss of her son. Iris was in shatters. She had just lost a child, was living on the streets, and had no soft landing pad to fall back on. Then she turned to GLIDE. At first, she just came for the meals, but after a while, she started going to some of the many programs GLIDE offers. She had begun to put the pieces of her life back together. It took time and some doing, but she did it. Now she lives in the GLIDE Community Housing, and works as a security guard there, determined to help others in the way GLIDE helped her. This is just one story that came to be at GLIDE. There are hundreds of others, some better, some worse, but most end in the same way: Victory.

Fast forward to Friday, the last day of my camp, and I’m giving everyone hugs, referring to them by name, and having heart-to-heart conversations with them. No matter what job I worked, I had fun, and made friends with the person next to me. The last day there, when I was offered the lunch that they had served that day, I happily accepted, and ate the meal with a smile on my face. Just one week working at GLIDE and I became a person I didn’t know I could become. I was talking to these people, making eye contact and smiling along with them.

GLIDE isn’t just a church. GLIDE is so much more. It is a warm meal, a shoulder to lean on when you need it, and programs that help the needy. GLIDE is a family, and GLIDE is in me. Even from day one, I knew this place was special. Sacred, even. This is a place that welcomes everyone, and has housed hundreds of the homeless with their new community homes.

I am lucky to have been given the opportunity to learn there. Not many people can say that they have. GLIDE provides the food, the shelter and the tools needed to teach someone how to fend for themselves. Like the old saying goes: “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you give a man a fishing pole, he will eat forever.” GLIDE does just that. Like a good parent, they supply the things needed to satisfy oneself, teach the lessons that need to be taught, and educate about the things people need to know. GLIDE’s goal is to liberate individuals so they don’t have to be dependent on someone else; to free them of their cage. This is one of the things I learned there, and it is a lesson I will carry with me forever. I have always led a safe and sheltered life, and only experienced poverty as an observer from the sidelines. Before GLIDE, it was hard for me to relate to and understand people down-on-their-luck. Now I understand the courage and resiliency it must take to ask for help, help oneself, and create a new future.

The human connection there is immense. People from completely different backgrounds relate to each other in ways deeper than words can describe. I must admit, going there for the first time, I was full of judgments about these people. To really experience Glide, I had to put all of those judgments away, and accept these people for who they are and not for their current living situation. After I did that, made a little change in behavior, I began to create connections with people there. Like I said in the title, “Overcome the separation mindset.”

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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

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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

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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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Azusa Pacific University....... What a great group of Volunteers Our wonderful volunteers TALENT ROVER AWESOME JOB Prep room.... W/ Volunteers Thea,Sadie and Mandy

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