Sunday, September 28, 2014

A report from the 1st Pride our group attended...June 2009.

In June 2009 The Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons attended our first Memphis Pride "officially". 
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! 


Deb Word:

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.


Steve Word:

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.


Jeanne Horishny:

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.”

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Happy Anniversary....

On Monday, Hubby and I will celebrate our 41st anniversary.  We have had good years, hard years, years that felt like days, only days.

We are together, partly because we love each other, partly because we are committed to each other, and partly because we are too bullheaded to give up on each other.

We have shared the joy of birthing two beautiful sons, the crushing blow of the one that didn't survive but a few months of the pregnancy.

We have survived the olympic task of raising two successful precious sons. Oh my.  We were almost always on the same page in raising them ... almost.

We have survived moves... so many different locations.  And with did it with the 'bloom where you are planted' philosophy.  Ok, bloom where you have been transplanted.

We have survived - our relationship has survived, while some days holding on by the most delicate of threads...spiderweb delicate.

There were days of such joy!  Times of such sadness.

We were able to care for they aged and then left us.

We were able to give shelter to children whose parents had discarded them.

We have survived ghosts from our pasts and near terminal illness and cancers.

We are married.  I'm sure the story is different for each couple, but the threads that bind are similar.  My parents were married 47 years before my dad lost my mom.  Steve's over 50 before his dad died. We had a wonderful longevity of heritage to model.  Were their relationships perfect,  oh my no.  But they were committed. And they worked out the issues as they arose.

This is how we live, as two people who knock heads now and then...and remember the love we have in our lives.

This is what I would like to say to our bishops as they say that somehow, if my son marries a partner, the act of that marriage will water down the sacrament for others.  That Sacrament, that commitment is part of how we survived the days when one or both of us was not 'acting very lovably.'

That Sacrament would help anyone who tries to live in a committed relationship.  It should not be denied simply because there are two brides or two grooms. 

Others honor our marriage, our commitment, because it is public, it was blessed, and it is easy to support.   I would suggest that all our children deserve the chance to have this blessing... and I wonder why anyone would suggest that two adults who love each other should have to hide that love from the world. 
We celebrate our anniversary in prayer for our children.  That someday our church fathers  understand that they model love in a way that is inspiring to us, that reminds us 'in good times and bad, in sickness and health' that we are all the same.  Our love helps us survive the events in our lives that cause us to reach for someone to hold onto.  And gives us that beloved relationship that models the love our Father has for us.   
I pray someday the world understands this should not just be a bond for those born with opposite gender attraction.  All God's Children, all born in His image, all born with a need for love.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Turn away the Gay Bill gets discussed Tuesday the 18th!

Some days I just love my home in Tennessee. We have vibrant cities, and beautiful rural landscapes...within minutes of each other. My hubby came from a conservative rural area, but is as open as a human can be.  We know that most folks in TN don't want to see anyone hurt...

but...there are days when those who represent us locally or nationally just embarrass the hell out of me.  This month has been one of those days! LOL

An idiot state Senator who panders to the right, the far right, the wingnut right...has proposed a bill that would allow ANY business to refuse to do business with 'the gays' on religious rights.
hmm, that would mean photographers and caterers for same gender weddings right?  geez, I think not, since you can't get same gender married in TN. Oh, he's doing this in case you can in the future.  arrrgggg.
But the coward put the bill out there, then took his name off it, as he began to hear feed back from constituents. The bill is still out there, with another sponsor, but it was the handywork of Kelsey from Germantown, a small burb to our east, and will be discussed in committee tomorrow.

I emailed both senators, and I've sent a copy of the letter below to the commercial appeal, our hometown rag.  Not sure it will be published, but here's my attempt to shame those two!

An Open letter to Senators Kelsey and Bell,

I know Kelsey, that you have taken your name off the so called 'turn away the gays' bill, (so it's up to you BELL) but I thought it was a fabulous idea- IF and ONLY IF, you add an amendment to make any establishment who plans to turn away gay couples put a 4'x4' SIGN outside their place of business.

I know this is supposed to be discussed tomorrow, so I hope I'm getting to you in time to make sure the amendment gets into place.  We don't want to embarrass anyone who might wander into an 'unfriendly' business, I'm sure that was NOT your intent, we just want to make sure that we leave the RIGHT to DISCRIMINATE for those 'christians' who like to do so.

It's about time we figure out who the folks are who don't want to do business with the gay community (and by extension their friends, families and coworkers!)  We can then figure out as Human Beings who we don't want to do business with.  And I believe that we show our belief system the way we spend our hard earned dollars.

I am a straight Catholic grandmother.... and I can tell you this, I would love to have a playbook that lists folks who think they are 'better' than others, and who would invoke Jesus in their discrimination.  You get those signs up, and I'll work on getting a list of them in my community, so we all know them by name!

Deb Word

Sunday, February 2, 2014

not quite abandoned the program...yet.

It has been months since I posted.  There is little to report on the homeless front.  We continue to meet, we continue to talk about the problem...Children still get kicked out, and because I have an inability to say no (and a current guest) I don't get to hear about the kids who need shelter.

MGLCC hired a fabulous person to be in charge of youth services.  She had experience working in Actual homeless shelters, and understands the system.  But alas, she has young children and the working hours just didn't work for her.  We have a new person, but I have not met her.

We have our terminal house guest...still here.  Not sure he will ever move out, not sure there will be another.  Suffering a bit from the overwhelming life I am leading right now, and advocacy issues seem to bubble up, fester awhile then lie dormant.  Like cancer, I don't see the issues near and dear to my heart getting resolved.

We were invited to present at a group event on Wednesday, Then uninvited.  We hear great things from one part of our church, then sucky things from another front.

Marriage here- none there.

Divorce may be the precedent setter for marriage??? 

This blog's only real purpose in the beginning was to document the journey as we began to solve the crisis of homeless lgbt youth in Memphis....
wow - what a naïve child I was 5 years ago.

uhm...I'm not actually depressed, although I wondered as I reread to proof this... But I'm not sure there is an attainable solution. 

Parents - as a catholic ministry that is our new target. Get them moved toward acceptance and we won't see kids on the street....Oh, and they say I can't use a firearm to hit our target.