Saturday, May 22, 2010


Today would have been the 80th birthday of San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly-gay man elected to a political office in the United States. Milk was a trailblazer and wasn't afraid to stir things up. And his life ended prematurely when Dan White shot him and Mayor George Moscone on November 27, 1978. Milk had only been in office for 11-months, but in that time, he had championed the change that was coming in San Francisco by passing ordinances that protected the LGBT community. And he had given a previously politically vulnerable group a seat at the proverbial table. This during the hey day of anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant.
Dan White was not convicted of first-degree murder because his lawyer successfully convinced a jury of mostly Roman Catholics (gays and other minorities weren't seated) that White had a "diminished capacity" from the stress of having resigned his position as a City Supervisor. Well, that and all that junk food he'd been eating. When the verdict was announced, a march from the Castro to City Hall resulted in a riot with people hurling rocks and burning police cars. According to one report, a journalist asked a rioter why they were attacking City Hall. The person wryly replied, "Tell 'em we ate too many Twinkies!!"
On this historic day, in Fulton, MS, the seniors at Itawamba Agricultural High School were graduating amidst protests from the truly offensive and off-the-wall Westboro Baptist Church. The rural high school had been in the news because the school canceled the prom to prevent one student, Constance McMillen, from wearing a tux and bringing her girlfriend to the dance. Fred Phelps' hateful group wanted to be on hand to remind all attending the ceremony that they believe gays belong in Hell. Their protest was a moot point. McMillen didn't walk with her classmates; instead, the Associated Press reports that she has transferred to an undisclosed high school in the state capital city and will graduate in two weeks.
These moments in the timeline of LGBT history intersect at an important and pivotal moment in the history of the church... and the calendar of all Episcopalians. We have arrived at Pentecost and the Holy Spirit is coming to blow down the barriers that keep people from hearing one another... and bring a common language of God into the mouths of many. Not everybody accepted that it was true (brushing off the whole thing as ranting by a bunch of drunkards). But many more were in awe and stunned that they were hearing God's word in a way that they could understand it. For this moment, there was a peace across the divided lines.
Ultimately, I believe that is what both Harvey Milk and Constance McMillen and countless others of the "others" look to as the future we want. A time when, despite being different, we all can speak a common language that reflects the Love that lights the world on fire. Differences, while still there, don't serve as barriers because our common denominator, Love, lays down the bridge. This is my hope, any way.
Come, Holy Spirit, make it so.


Phoebe said...

Yes, Come Holy Spirit.. remove stone hearts and replace them with hearts of flesh.. open minds to
recognise the LOVE that come can teach us to respect all human beings, that ALL might have 'abundant life".

Anonymous said...

Amen to that Phoebe! I love Pentacost because I feel it allows us to sweep away a lot of hatred with the winds of LOVE and I hope that the Holy Sp;irit is alive and well for all of us.


SCG said...

Amen to both of you!