Representatives of CDW had the remarkable privilege of leading a walking tour through the Castro of 15 middle school age young people from the youth groups of five East Bay parishes. Coordinated by Ethan Lowery of St. Stephen’s, Orinda and Samantha Haycock of Christ Episcopal Church, Alameda, the tour was part of an immersion experience for the church’s youth. We spoke of LGBTQ History and the massacre in Orlando within the framework of that history.
Starting with Harvey Milk Plaza beneath the Pride flag, and the first glass front gay bar, Twin Peaks, the group spoke of the assassination of Milk, the White Night Riots, the idea of gay bars as safe spaces for LGBTQ people. We spoke of Stonewall.
We were blessed that the GLBT Historical Museum opened their doors to us, for free, so we could educate these brilliant young people on our history.
We spoke of the long history of rights work on behalf of LGBTQ people; the final decriminalization of our intimacy in 2003; the lack of full civil rights; the ending of DOMA and DADT; and marriage rights. And today, the Pentagon opened military service to trans-identified people!
We spoke of AIDS, and Oscar Wilde, and coming out, and police raids.
We ended with a discussion of Orlando at Dolores Park; about the political, religious, and other factors that made something like Orlando possible. And what we as Christian people could do to let others know that we are safe harbors for the LGBTQ community *as* people of faith. We talked about the Companions of Dorothy the Worker and ministry in the Castro, and what it means to be in loving presence to one another. As the God Squad’s hats said : “Making neighbors out of strangers again.”