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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CHANGE THE WORLD. START WITH LUNCH.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 5, 2015
CONTACTDenise Lamott | (415) 381-8793 | Denise@DeniseLamottPR.com

Warren-Photo-large

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – GLIDE is pleased to announce The Power of One Lunch, the 16th Annual eBay Power Lunch with Warren Buffett Auction. Offered through eBay Giving Works, one of the largest charitable giving platforms, bidding for this year’s charity auction opens at 7:30 pm PDT on Sunday, May 31, and closes at 7:30 p.m. PDT on Friday, June 5. 

Each year, legendary investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett hosts just one charity lunch, always in support of GLIDE. Over the past 16 years, Buffett’s sustained commitment — and the giving spirit of the winning bidders — have helped raised nearly $18 million to support GLIDE’s unwavering mission to help San Francisco’s residents in need.

“This auction has empowered and inspired so many people,” said GLIDE’s Co-Founder and Minister of Liberation Reverend Cecil Williams. “Mr. Buffett has extended GLIDE’s legacy of unconditional love and acceptance. Offering this luncheon is different. It’s creative. It’s innovative. It’s a unique way to inspire others to see how they can give and connect with the humanity that is perhaps invisible to them.”

“We are profoundly moved by the generosity of all the bidders and Warren Buffett’s commitment to our neighborhood and community,” said Janice Mirikitani, Co-Founder of GLIDE. “The divides are getting bigger between the haves and have-nots. Mr. Buffett inspires others who have the means to help bridge that divide – and every person who is involved is a pillar to that bridge.”


This year’s auction offers bidders an opportunity to be one of those pillars, to be a part of one of the country’s most well-respected and progressive philanthropies, to leave a legacy of generosity – and make this powerful investment for good by sharing a meal and conversation with the world’s most renowned investor.

“GLIDE helped me understand just how much a life can be transformed by unconditional love and some real material help,” said Buffett. “Nobody who’s donated to GLIDE has ever felt shortchanged. They always get their money’s worth.”

“eBay is committed to building a future that enables and inspires charitable giving at scale, and is grounded in what the company does best – technology enabled commerce,” said eBay’s vice president of Global Communications, Claire Dixon. “Last year alone, we helped charities raise $91.6 million – eBay is a proud supporter and partner to GLIDE as we assist in its mission of helping San Francisco residents in need.”

GLIDE_Landing_Page_v2Bidding for this year’s eBay charity auction opens at 7:30 pm PDT on Sunday, May 31, and closes at 7:30 p.m. PDT on Friday, June 5. The bidding starts at $25,000 and all bidders will be pre-qualified prior to bidding. eBay, who will host the auction for the thirteenth year in a row, will augment their support for GLIDE in 2015 with additional cash donations and an employee volunteer event. To pre-qualify, visit: ebay.com/glide. The winning bidder will have the opportunity to invite up to seven friends to join him or her and Mr. Buffett for lunch at Smith & Wollensky in New York City. Since 2004, Alan Stillman, founder of Smith & Wollensky, has generously donated at least $10,000 each year to GLIDE for the privilege of hosting the lunch. Smith & Wollensky has been called “the quintessential New York steakhouse” by Gourmet Magazine and “the steakhouse to end all arguments” by The New York Times.

The Annual Warren Buffett Lunch Charity Auction was conceived in 2000 by the late Susie Buffett who had a strong affinity for GLIDE and its work to provide dignity and opportunity to all people, regardless of income, gender, religion, political persuasion or any other factor. Each year, generous donors bid for the opportunity to meet Warren Buffett for lunch in New York City at Smith & Wollensky. Over the past 15 years, the winning bids have ranged from $25,000 to $3,456,789, with the funds going directly to support GLIDE’s programs, which help people overcome hunger, poverty, homelessness and debilitating health challenges. Last year’s auction brought in $2,166,766.

For more information about the 16th GLIDE Annual eBay Auction for a Power Lunch with Warren Buffett, please contact GLIDE at (415) 674-6001, Buffett@Glide.org, or visit ebay.com/glide. For more information about GLIDE please visit www.Glide.org.

About GLIDE

Having recently celebrated its landmark fiftieth anniversary of daily service, GLIDE works to create a radically inclusive, just and loving community mobilized to alleviate suffering and break the cycles of poverty and marginalization. Located in San Francisco’s culturally rich Tenderloin neighborhood, GLIDE serves a diverse cross-section of homeless, low-income and disenfranchised populations, providing an array of programs including free meals, HIV/HEPC testing and counseling, housing assistance, domestic violence counseling and abatement, substance abuse recovery, licensed childcare, afterschool and summer programs for youth, and a Family Resource Center. GLIDE has founded and sustained visionary programming, and achieved tangible results for tens of thousands of individuals and families on the margins, all once thought to be beyond the possible.

About eBay Marketplaces

eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY) is one of the world’s largest online marketplaces, connecting people with the things they need and love virtually anytime, anywhere. eBay has 157 million active buyers globally and more than 800 million live individual and merchant listings at any given time. As we help to drive the next generation of commerce, we believe in the power of our employees, technologies and global networks to also enable positive social and environmental change in the world. Integrated into eBay’s regular buying and selling platform, eBay Giving Works is a program that allows fundraising for nonprofits and fundraising for charity. The eBay Giving Works program is part of a portfolio of programs, resources, and tools across eBay Inc that are intended to enable and inspire online charity donations at a scale never seen before. Learn more at givingworks.ebay.com.

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JUSTICE FOR ALL: GLIDE partners with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights to maintain and grow its Drop-In Legal Clinic

Paul Chavez

Meet Paul Chavez, Senior Attorney and Pro Bono Director at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCR) and the friendly staff attorney at GLIDE’s Drop-In Legal Clinic.

Paul is on hand and on-site at GLIDE two days a week during Clinic hours (currently Monday and Thursday, 2:00 – 5:00pm) to assist GLIDE clients on a walk-in basis with any issue they may have, free of charge. These issues can include anything from housing discrimination to assistance with criminal record expungement or an immigration case. Paul assists wherever he can, either personally representing clients or seeing that their matters are referred to another attorney or agency better suited to help. Sometimes a client comes in with a matter that does not have a legal solution. Paul is still there for them, listening to and affirming their concerns with an eye to helping them move on with their lives.

“For a lot of clients there’s not a legal remedy,” explains Paul, “but I’m able to sit down and help them work through whatever that problem or issue is, so we can get to a result together.”

As the latest addition to its array of wraparound services, GLIDE’s Drop-In Legal Clinic began operation on a pilot basis in September 2013, powered by the initiative and dedication of Charlie Crompton. Inspired by GLIDE’s work and values, Charlie left his position as a litigation partner at the prestigious law firm of Latham & Watkins to devote himself full-time to the development of a free walk-in legal clinic on-site at 330 Ellis Street that would extend GLIDE’s ethic of radical inclusion and unconditional love. In December 2014, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Charlie to a judgeship on the San Francisco County Superior Court. Before leaving, Charlie helped arrange the new partnership with LCCR, on whose board he had served for years.

In managing GLIDE’s Drop-In Legal Clinic, Paul and LCCR take up where Charlie Crompton left off. “We don’t limit it by issue area, so whatever the issue is we’ll try to give advice or a good referral. That’s based on the same model that Charlie had, which is to advise and [where particular expertise is lacking] refer people with a warm handoff to another nonprofit that actually works in that area.”

Of the several hundred clients already served by the Clinic, there are also those whose legal problem might be unusual and require a creative solution. “Sometimes there are problems that are just a kind of one-off legal issue that I know other nonprofits aren’t going to be able to quite cover,” says Paul, who gives as an example a client who had been contacted by a court in Texas with the news of an inheritance. “They wanted him to show up in person,” he explains. “He doesn’t have very stable housing, so getting to Texas was a big issue. But through some of our contacts here we were able to find counsel in Texas willing to go through that process for him pro bono. That was a big win. There was nobody else who would have been able to do that.”

This anecdote exemplifies the effectiveness and commitment of LCCR, a national social justice organization founded in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy in an effort to bring the nation’s lawyers into the African-American–led struggle for civil rights and racial equality then underway.

Paul calls the new partnership between LCCR and GLIDE “a great match,” noting the common origins for both organizations in a civil rights mission. “We share a similar history of civil rights advocacy from the early 1960s,” notes Paul. “That’s our history: to push forward civil rights and serve the marginalized and provide legal services to the most vulnerable among us.”

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A Holistic Care Approach at Glide’s Walk-In Center

Pierre and Tanesh at GLIDE

Pierre and Tanesh, who celebrated their ten-year anniversary last October, have been coming to Glide since 2006.

 

“We came to Glide so much everybody knew us – from the security to the staff members, they all knew our names. We walked in the door and no one judged us. We walked in the door and we were able to receive help, and we were able to be consistent with that,” says Tanesh.

Tanesh and her husband Pierre moved to San Francisco in 2006 to recover from addiction, and came to Glide for help with housing and healthcare, and for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Returning to L.A. for family reasons, Tanesh and Pierre then came back to San Francisco in 2010. Remembering Glide, they went to the Walk-In Center, one of the main entry points to Glide’s services. After six days in a shelter, Walk-In Center case managers secured them an affordable living space and move-in assistance. Walk-In Center staff continued working with the couple, helping them navigate other Glide programs and find better housing later on in support of their recovery process.

“I do believe that in order to have success in your life you have to have a healthy state of mind first,” says Tanesh. She credits a Glide healthcare staff member for going above and beyond to do certain things she and Pierre needed, especially around behavioral health. For Tanesh, prayer and spiritual awakening were key to her recovery. In building community with St. James Infirmary, Black Brothers Esteem, and City of Refuge, Pierre learned about harm-reduction models, which work best for him. Through both of their recovery processes, Pierre says, “We’re able to be consistent, be accounted for, and be productive in our own community. Glide showed me how to live.”

At Glide, they were also able to find some community. “There’s a trans-friendly support group (Bridging the Gap) that meets on Tuesday nights that Teri runs, and that’s where my recovery actually started. Teri was one of – if not the first – trans females I met. Teri was working around the corner at Glide housing, she told me about the group and said, ‘I’m here to support you.’ I knew every Tuesday night I would see the same people, and we all got stronger together,” says Tanesh.

Group meetings took place at the same time as Men In Progress, Glide’s violence prevention program for men, which Pierre participated in. Though he’d learned similar information from other organizations, Men In Progress helped him follow through. “They taught us how to get in touch with our authentic self. That process is – if I can identify who I am, and what triggers me, I can respect you more because you’re not a threat to me. I don’t have to be afraid, I don’t have warrants, I don’t have anyone looking for me, I don’t owe anyone money,” says Pierre.

Tanesh and Pierre currently have stable housing in San Francisco and aim to stay; they celebrated ten years together last October. “It’s home life, church, volunteering in San Francisco, and our grandbabies and daughter. That is our life today,” says Tanesh.

Last November, Tanesh was installed by the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries as the Transgender Minister at City of Refuge. There, she organizes a monthly meet-and-greet for trans women and men. She runs a weekly prayer conference line every Saturday, and helps prepare the sanctuary at City of Refuge every Sunday. This month, Tanesh was also sponsored to join representatives from St. James and TGI Justice Project to participate in the Color of Violence INCITE! 15th Anniversary Conference in Chicago.

Pierre also wears many hats – ushering and doing the bulletins for City of Refuge, and doing street outreach with St. James in San Francisco. He is currently working on a support group for transgender people and their partners and families. “The life that I live – I love who I love and I accept them for who they are. Today, I introduce myself as a cisgender male who’s married to a transgender female. I identify as “them” or “they,” in support of all the people – not just transgender – who have ever faced injustice and prejudice. If it wasn’t for their past, I wouldn’t have a future,” says Pierre.

GLIDE Walik-In Center staff members

GLIDE Walk-In Center staff members.

Last year, GLIDE’s Walk-In Center provided over 3,000 unduplicated clients with rental assistance, clothing vouchers, client advocacy, and more. “We strive to provide a holistic care approach by offering our clients access to multiple services to support them in meeting their goals. We help clients navigate our many programs to meet a variety of needs such as shelter, food, health, and spiritual support,” says Ana, Walk-In Center Manager, who helped Pierre and Tanesh secure their housing. “A lot of times we’re just a way for people to stay connected. Help can come in many forms, from the tangible things we do like handing out a toothbrush or assisting a family with their security deposit, to just being present in the moment through grief, celebration, or during a time of crisis in someone’s life. Listening seems simple, but it is those priceless exchanges that we have with our clients that keep them coming back. Those real human connections make us accessible and are as much of a fundamental need as the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

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What the World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love

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Eleven years ago, I was sitting in my church office in Noe Valley when I received an unbelievable call: San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples?! One quick internet search and confirmed:  lesbian icons Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin had been married earlier in the day and now couples from throughout the city as well as the state (and shortly thereafter, from across the country) were streaming into City Hall to be married.

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I performed nine weddings during our Winter of Love (and faced the possibility of a church trial for doing them, but that’s another blog). It wasn’t the first time I had performed ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. I had been doing them since 1982. But this was the first time I had performed legal weddings for gay/lesbian couples.

The impact in our City was immediate and profound: it was as if the whole city had become one big wedding reception. Toasts were offered on city streets. Workplaces threw parties of congratulations. Love seemed to multiply joy exponentially, and it was felt in every corner of SF.

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The rest of the United States is quickly learning what we discovered eleven years ago: every couple deserves to have their love legally honored and respected. It is good for the couple. It is good for families. It is good for communities.

Granting this legal right/rite to gay/lesbian couples has not—as conservative pundits predicted—destroyed the institution of marriage. In fact, if my work calendar is any indication, it has strengthened it as more and more couples are coming forward to be legally wed. Usually, I perform just a handful of weddings a year. This year, however, my weekends are pretty full officiating at weddings!

What the World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love   Eleven years ago, I was sitting in my church office in Noe Valley when I received an unbelievable call: San Francisco was issuing marriage licenses for gay and lesbian couples?! One quick internet search and confirmed:  lesbian icons Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin had been married earlier in the day and now couples from throughout the city as well as the state (and shortly thereafter, from across the country) were streaming into City Hall to be married.

I will never understand why any government official, religious leader, or family member would stand in opposition to marriage equality.  The ability to give and receive love is an essential part of our humanness. Love doesn’t isolate us but connects us to others in ways that increases our capacities for care and compassion. Love is essential for healthy communities and one look around will confirm that the world is in desperate need of more love.

This Valentine’s Day, I am remembering all the couples I have married (or am about to marry). I pray that they may have discovered within their relationship a love that has not only helped them grow more fully into the persons they have been created to be, but has also enlarged their embrace to include a world that is in need of healing touch, generous givers, and lovers of justice.

Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto is GLIDE's Senior Pastor.

Photo by Lisa Wiseman

Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto is GLIDE's Senior Pastor. Follow Karen @RevKarenOliveto and her blog.








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GLIDE Instagram
Thank you to the 80+ volunteers that came out yesterday to serve breakfast, pack meals, and prep lunch! It was great seeing so many of you at the GLIDE Legacy committee's day of volunteering. Super-volunteer Julie and super-staff Nidra, preparing for "Prep" with a pre-Prep pose. Is it the weekend yet? While you are drinking your cup of Joe today, be sure to put going to Hearth on your to-do list for this Sunday. It is a great way to get your pick me up, organic coffee or a curator selection of wine available. 10% of all sales will be donated to GLIDE! And just in case you don’t have your ticket for the 6th Annual GLIDE Legacy Gala, you can receive 10% off your tickets when you ask for a flyer. Congratulations to all who worked tirelessly to open The Tenderloin Museum. #tlmuseum

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