2009 San Francisco PRIDE Celebration & Parade

A couple of weeks ago I marched in the SF Pride Parade. I went with my kids and other families from the San Francisco Friends School and a few folks from SF Monthly Meeting.

We were right behind the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays PFLAG contingent and with a bunch of other school groups. It’s the more family-friendly portion of the parade, but the whole morning was still a series of opportunities to have conversations with my kids about what various signs meant and why we don’t point at other people, no matter what they are or are not wearing.

The theme this year was “To Form A More Perfect Union.” The marriage equality debate was all over the place. A school staff member and his husband wore tshirts that said, “We put a ring on it.” I think they got more cheers than the kids.

It was fun, not too hot, and an inspiring but long walk. Afterwards, folks from the school can come to the meetinghouse, which is near the parade's endpoint, for a cool and quiet place to eat lunch and use the bathroom. The school has had a contingent in the parade for several years, but this was my first time.

Later that day, I took a turn in the SF Meeting booth at the Pride Festival. This was our second year in a row to have a booth. The meeting may have had one before, but not for many years. (We still have a parade banner from the early days of Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns (now FLGBTQC) with felt appliques of two broad brimmed hats on one side and two bonnets on the other side with their strings intertwined.)

This is the result of a new member of our meeting who has a passion for outreach. He’s still mad that it took him so many years to find Quakers, particularly a community where he could be openly gay and openly Christian. He was the driving force behind the rotating signs in our meetinghouse window with quotations from Faith and Practice. Last year he and his partner pretty much ran the booth themselves. This year, I wasn’t at the FGC Gathering that weekend, so I helped him get other people to sign up. He also had a new banner made for the top of the booth and little business cards made up with the logo from our newsletter, contact info for the meeting, and the dates and times of our meetings for worship. The top also says “Honor that of God in everyone/Silent Meeting for Worship/All welcome” And finally, he really wanted to put an ad in the program, so together with a graphic designer in the meeting, we came up with this. It’s basically the same as the business cards, with a rainbow background.

The booth also featured longer pamphlets about Quaker worship, brochures from the Friends School, and a bunch of stuff from the AFSC. After numerous requests the first day, a member of our meeting put together a list of all the meetings and churches in Northern California, since people kept saying, but I live in Fresno/San Jose/Redding, are there Quakers there? Why yes, there are. Back to the parade for a moment, one of the interesting things about the PFLAG group was that many of them were carrying flags with the names of the various cities they came from, all over California. I don't know if they do that every year, or if it was especially important this year to show that LGBTQ folks, their families and allies are really everywhere, not just in SF.

In addition, the wife of one of our members, who is a Christian Scientist, brought information on several other inclusive congregations in SF. It was wonderful to watch people’s faces light up, to see that there are other openly gay Catholics or Lutherans, etc. Even if they never go to church, a lot of light was brought to the whole situation and myths were dispelled.

I'm glad our meeting was part of it, and I'm glad to have participated. If you'd like to help out next year, let me know.

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Blogger chad said...

Thanks for being there, Robin, and putting together a quick picture of the event for those of us who couldn't be there...

BTW, tell me you know about the "put a ring on it" joke--if you don't, see this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mVEGfH4s5g

7/11/2009 5:19 PM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

Thanks Chad - I got the reference, and I've heard the song, but I didn't think to look for a link. That's helpful for anyone else who didn't get the connection.

7/11/2009 5:35 PM  
Blogger Mary Ellen said...

Thanks for this post! We had some discussion a couple of years ago about putting a rainbow flag in front of our meetinghouse, and came to no clearness about it. I love the rainbow-hued flier you showed giving information about your meeting. I know that individual families from my meeting were involved in our recent Gay Pride parade, but it wasn't used as an opportunity to openly welcome people to our community. Maybe we should raise this as an opportunity for next year.

7/11/2009 7:07 PM  
Anonymous Lisa H said...

In 1969, when I was 7, we marched with a bunch of Quakers at a huge peace march in San Francisco. The group right behind us had a banner that said "Gay Liberation Front." I asked my father, "Daddy, is that people who want to be happy?" He paused, probably wondering whether to open that topic, and simply said, "Yes."

7/11/2009 10:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post. I wish more meetings were willing to reach out like San Francisco Meeting. I just don't understand the reluctance. Thanks for all you did.

7/12/2009 10:57 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

What an uplifting report, Robin - I wish more of our Meetings in the UK would do this!

7/13/2009 8:54 AM  
Blogger Liz Opp said...

Mary Ellen speaks my mind... Though as a meeting, we often only look a month ahead, and planning for folks to be in a parade, make banners, sign up for a booth at PRIDE... well, it doesn't seem to fit into our meeting's culture. Yet.

In a way, I think the meeting could be helped by having a "sister meeting" that also works to be involved in PRIDE, etc. I think we could be helped by being accountable to a group other than ourselves.

Oh boy, I better quit before I say something inappropriate!

Thanks for the report on these fun activities, Robin!

Liz Opp, The Good Raised Up

7/14/2009 9:16 AM  
Blogger naturalmom said...

Sounds like a great day!

7/14/2009 9:51 AM  
Blogger Robin M. said...

One of the things that helps is that the SF Friends School coordinates the parade contingent, and the Meeting has somebody who is committed to the booth, including he is willing to fill out all the forms well in advance, and a committee that is willing to season his ideas, offering guidance and support and some money.

It so happened that the same month, SF Meeting celebrated its first same gender marriage - 38 years after minuting our decision to welcome all applications for marriage equally. We know how to plan ahead.

7/20/2009 1:42 AM  

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