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It’s About Love

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Well, I see the true-believers at “Stand Firm” have got themselves in trouble again, this time over an awful post accusing a bishop of the Episcopal Church of supporting terrorists in Israeli-occupied Palestine. Greg Griffith, SF’s paragon of male virtue who’s forever urging every guy he can find to “man up,” came across a picture of a woman at a peace march in San Francisco. He identified her as the retired Suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts and proceeded to rant about how her presence proves that every Episcopalian in the land is a wicked, apostate, Muslim-loving, New-Agey heretic queer.

Problem is, the lady in the picture wasn’t her. She hasn’t been to San Francisco in years, but he didn’t bother to check before unleashing yet another feeding frenzy among the site’s rabid followers. Hundreds of vitriolic comments followed, before the libeled bishop objected, the post was pulled and L’il Griffyboy apologized.

Par for the course, another day in Anglican-land. But it set me to thinking: Do these StandFirmers realize that when they disparage homosexuals—which is what the entire site is based on—they are attacking millions of people in loving, sacrificial, Christ-like relationships?

These two San Franciscans certainly look like devil-may-care hedonists:

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As some of you know, I recently went on a pilgrimmage around the Episcopal Church with Davis Mac-Iyalla, the Nigerian Gay Anglican activist. It was an amazing experience. We went coast to coast, north and south, meeting Episcopalians of all kinds, young, old, rich, poor, Black, White, Asian, Latino, Native Indian; cradle Episcopalians, recent converts, all sorts and conditions of women and men, including of course Straight and Gay. Everywhere we went we found people of faith in Jesus Christ who came to support us. Included were heterosexual and homosexual couples.

We met families struggling to stay together; a widower who had just buried his wife; a young male seminarian in Chicago engaged to a dynamic and active laywoman; clergy couples, lay couples, all sorts and conditions. Memories of them, images, fill my head: Athens, Ohio; Cleveland; Cincinnati; Columbus; Chicago; Rochester; Raleigh; East Orange, New Jersey; Sacramento; Phoenix; New York; San Francisco.

(Griffith didn’t bother to mention that the mis-identified woman was marching in a demonstration against the war in Iraq, held at the end of October in San Francisco. He assumed, as many wingnuts do, that the mere mention of San Francisco is sufficient to dismiss the entire city. After all, San Francisco mostly lets LGBTs live in peace, so what do they know?)

Look at these faces. Tell me the joy you see ought to be trashed and burned.

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The difference between Viagraville and the Episcopal Church is that Episcopalians actually have looked into these faces.

These faces are about love. And love comes from God.

There is no love without God; wherever love is, God is there too.

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The Lesbian couples Davis and I met didn’t set out to be exemplars, they just were. Relationships are hard, without the added burden of trying to be Wonder Woman. The women we met, from Ohio to Illinois to Arizona, weren’t striving to be Textbook Examples, but they all figured out somewhere along the way that during and after the sparks start flying, commitment deepens love and forms identity. It’s commitment that makes a family.

Davis and I got to stay in several Lesbian couples’ homes; some grand, some not so, each one different in personality and how they worked out the issues of daily life (which often involved dogs, cats, schedules and meals); but each couple the same, a pair of old beloved shoes, even in their early 30’s.

How could we not look at them in awe?

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I suppose because of my male bias, my “preference,” I may have been even more charmed by the committed guys we met. I wrote earlier about two guys in their 20’s in Athens, A.J. and Justin. I shake my head in envy at their relationship, because I no longer have my guy. If I’d had my act together at their age like those two do, would I be alone now? Maybe not. But beyond my jealousy was sheer admiration; Justin is so proud of how A.J.’s gotten involved in the church.

They were the loveliest humans I could imagine; and then we met them again and again in every city and town and village.

Steve’s got prostate cancer; Doug’s right there with him. Bart (and Tony!) is the Western Regional VP of Integrity. Man, how all these guys took care of Davis and me, with incredible gentleness and wisdom, care and competence.

So I say to Griffyboy and all his Pavlov’s dogs: look into these faces. Then do your theology.

The photo below’s from a recent Pride Parade; the palm trees suggest Southern California. These two macho types are obviously sexual with each other, and celebrating that in the streets—but their grip and their smiles say something else important is going on: they’ve made a commitment. They march proudly together, defiant of all your vitriol.

They’ve long since manned up without the least exhortation from you.

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It’s about love. Oppose God if you dare.++

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3 Responses

  1. Dear Josh,
    I am shocked that the flame-throwers have not been out in your neck of the woods yet! So I will launch a little pre-emptive strike and tell you how much I appreciate your post, especially your pictures, which speak so eloquently of the iconic power of love. Thank you for bearing witness.
    Your friend in the fight of freedom for the church,
    Clark

  2. Clark,

    This little photo-essay might be too powerful for flamers to comment on, so they ignore it.

    The fact is LGBT people kiss their beloveds, care for their babies, and march down the street in uninhibited joy.

    These pictures tell the story.

  3. Josh,
    Uninhibited joy–that was exactly what I was thinking as I read your post–thank you, thank you!

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