Hello Diocese of Olympia and friends!
I am grateful to be a part of this year’s Pride Planning committee, representing Saint Mark’s and our new Queer in Christ ministry. The reality is, I’m just one person of many who have contributed their time, energy, and passion into helping form our new Queer ministry here. The response from our cathedral community has been overwhelmingly positive! What a beautiful thing.
When I first started going to an Episcopal church back in 2008, I was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed to learn of TEC’s acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people. Having been raised a combination of Roman Catholic and Evangelical (non-denominational) Christian, I was raised in an environment of shame and sin surrounding my identity as a gay man.
Having found a Church that accepts me for who I am, and that approaches me as a human being and beloved child of God first and foremost, has had a profoundly positive impact on my faith and life.
I am also grateful for The Episcopal Church empowering and emboldening me to stand up for what is right, specifically when it comes to the rights of LGBTQIA+ people. Back in 2008, I remember feeling called to participate in a Proposition 8 protest. I was afraid of potentially appearing in the news, and I didn’t want to bring disappointment or shame to my parents. I took a chance, and emailed Bishop Gene Robinson (whose book “In the Eye of the Storm” I had recently read) to seek advice on whether I should attend the protest. I received a reply from him within hours, and his response has stuck with me to this day. He told me:
“Whatever decision you make, God will love you. This is NOT at risk. What IS at risk is your own self-respect and hope for the future. Someday your parents will understand why this is important to you and to us. You cannot let their concerns dissuade you from becoming the person God created you to be.”
And thus began my life of newfound freedom – no longer ashamed to be a gay man – and now proud to speak out about my faith and sexuality as both being beloved parts of my identity.
I still walk my journey of faith, following Jesus, inspired by those words Bishop Robinson spoke to me almost 15 years ago. I was lucky to be able to meet him on his visit to my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky back in 2010. I smile every time I see the photo (above) of the two of us on my wall, and I keep a printed copy of his email response to me from 2008.
I hope that as we participate in Pride Month, you too are empowered and emboldened to proudly be a witness to those in our LGBTQIA+ community who may not realize they are all also
beloved children of God.
Blessings to us on our faith journeys!
Cathedral Sacristan & Head Verger at Saint Mark’s
Convenor of Saint Mark’s Queer in Christ ministry