We weren't allowed to book a 'booth space' and certainly couldn't walk in the parade. We were asked to keep it low key, and told we could pass out invitations to mass and to our monthly potluck. We choose to be a little less low key, and we had a few t'shirts made. They continue to be our shirt for pride. Because of this report explaining the day to Bishop Steib we were allowed to expand our Pride mission.
In 2010 we had a booth, and marched behind the Fortunate Families Banner. We would love to march behind the Diocesan ministry banner, but not yet. This year 2014 marked our 6th year to participate... more on this year in another post.
" You are always welcome at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.”
Here are excerpts from our reports, which was printed in the Fortunate Families newsletter 08/2009!
I noticed the young man on the other side of the street at the parade, dressed only in shorts and flip flops. He was stopping the parade every few minutes to have his picture made with the parade participants. I thought that he had probably spent a while in the ‘beer garden’ while waiting for the parade to start. He was “Easy to notice, Easy to write off.” Later in the day, I saw him coming toward me on the path, and as I turned to give him a card, he spotted someone, and picked up speed. (Why I followed him? Not sure it was my decision…) I too picked up speed, (yep, Grandma Word, running after a shirtless guy on the path in the park...I don’t understand it either). When I got close enough I tapped him on the shoulder and said “You look like the kind of guy who enjoys a party, well, we have a great party at Church on the 1st Tuesday of the month at IC.” He looked at me, at the card I had handed him, smiled and said thanks… and turned away. He only went about 10 feet, and came back to say “you know, I’ve been looking for a church that would have me” I hugged him and told him he would always be welcome at the Cathedral.
here were a couple of guys at the ‘beer garden’ before the parade, and we began visiting with them. One of the guys lives in Starkville, our last home. We had a few friends in common. The other lives in Alabama. Our new friend from Alabama was VERY interested in the ministry. “Really,” he said “does your Bishop know about this?” I told him we had the bishops blessing, that we were a diocesan ministry, and that he was welcome to join us. “ Wow,” He said, “I guess things have changed, I used to play the organ for a Catholic Church in Alabama, played the 8am Mass there, the 10 next door at my church, and back for the noon service for the Catholic Church. Then they got a new priest, and after about 6 weeks he asked me…Are you gay? I told him I was, but that it had been a long, long time since I was involved with anybody in any kind of relationship. Father told me he needed to ask me to resign; he said it was against the rules to have a gay organist (like I was the only one on earth- please.) He told us he was glad to hear someone was working to heal the wounds the church had inflicted. He talked about his friend who had died a few years ago, away from the church, who was a clarinetist. I told him our older son was a clarinetist and a band instructor. He offered, and then sent, a beautiful old clarinet, for our Chris to pass on to a student who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to be in the band. He said it would make his friend proud.
took aim at the folks who were lonely looking people, alone in the crowd. Most of the individuals were receptive to the invitation or at least they acted like it. Some people knew exactly where the cathedral was and seemed very surprised to know the ministry was so active. But the majority had no idea of the ministry. Most were happy to be invited, one gal thanked me for reminding her, she had stopped going. Overall the attitude was accepting and grateful to be welcomed and invited to join in.
George Horishny: it is difficult to understand the mixed feelings that I had when the subject of going to the Gay Pride parade wearing a T-Shirt with a message on it was brought up. At first I said YES, and then I had second thoughts. But I am glad I put away my fears and attended wearing our shirts, announcing "All are welcome" at the Cathedral. The people who I came in contact with were a mixed group. Some could really not believe that the Catholic Church would allow a ministry for the GLBT people. Some shared how they were afraid to attend their parish church because of sermons they had heard condemning them. Some were afraid that their parents would be shunned because of them. I was asked if I was gay, and why I would be in this place if I were not. Stories of their being shut out of their families lives were also shared. I had several people thank me for showing that someone really cared for them and understood their plight. It was a wonderful feeling to see that God was a part of these people’s lives even with the rejection they have experienced. It was a comforting feeling to know that just our presence at this event displayed that the Catholic Church really does have a place at the table or all, and that more people now know they are welcome at the Cathedral. The reward for my being at the Gay Pride Parade was the "Thanks for Being Here" that was shared more than once.
Michelle Leatham: a Presbyterian active member of the group: when Deb and Steve Word invited me to join them for the parade, I was so excited. I try to take every advantage to speak out and speak up for the rights of my family and friends. As my brother who is gay reminds me “It is important for those with
nothing to lose to speak up for those who have everything to lose.” Then when Deb offered me a Tshirt and asked me to represent IC, I became a bit hesitant. Realizing I am not a member here, I am not even Catholic; perhaps I don’t “belong” in a place representing a Church that is not “mine”. Or is it? Then I considered the message that we planned to share: “You are always welcome at the Church of the Immaculate Conception …God Loves Us All” and I realized, hey, that includes me; so I went. As I began handing out cards, reminding people that Jesus loves them, and welcoming them to this meeting, I was sometimes met with stares of disbelief. “I didn’t know such a group existed” and “Does your Church support us?” I was proud to answer “yes.” I was proud to describe the fellowship, prayers, and fun we enjoy as a group. I found that I was proud to consider IC to be “My Church,” a Church where all are welcome and all are seen as Children of God. While I had several inspirational chats, one of special significance comes to mind. I handed a card and a pin to a lady as I described our group and fellowship. She looked back at me with tears in her eyes and told me “I could never show up there, my daughter is a member of IC and she is ashamed that I am a lesbian.” She went on to add “As much as I would love to come, I could never be a part of your group.” I told the woman I would pray for her to find a way to join us. I told her that I would also pray for her daughter; I told her that I would pray for her daughter to be reminded that indeed, God Loves Us All. As I mingled among the parade goers, the festivities, and even the heat, I was happy to be in the mix. While at first I was bummed that we didn’t have a booth, a shady place for us to meet those passing by, a place for us to ‘re-gather’ after circulating through the crowd, I later came to appreciate that our approach to merge with the crowd was far more effective. I even smiled as I noticed my dusty feet and sandals and considered; this must be how the disciples of Jesus felt as they walked from town to town spreading the news that indeed, “God Loves Us All.”