Parting Glances: Daffodils, lilies, rainbows

By |2018-01-16T04:11:26-05:00April 13th, 2006|Opinions|

For reasons of remembrance, gay spirituality, and activist statement, I’ll be attending one of three Easter Sunday services at Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit.
I won’t be wearing a designer spring ensemble, or jocundly carrying an armful of yellow daffodils, but I’ll gladly arrive with the much-longed-for realization that winter’s in exile — at least for 254 more days. Amen.
It usually rains on Easter. April showers! (I do have a rainbow umbrella.)
I owe MCC-D thanks. Twenty-plus years ago, when I had a few months of lifesaving sobriety to my credit, I realized that to stay booze free I’d best avoid old drinking haunts and learn to socialize without the umpteenth martini in hand.
Back then I spent many Sunday evenings sitting in the last pew of Central Methodist Church, where MCC-D met during the early 80s. I kept to myself, just glad to be somewhere I could end and begin my week sober. Each time I went the vaulted roof didn’t collapse, and no one sang doxology off key.
In spite of my last-pew reticence I found regulars who made a point of saying hi, made me feel human again, and asked no questions about my uncorked past.
I learned that MCC-D was a safe space for gays and lesbians from far too many disowning faith backgrounds. For some it was a place for meeting potential friends, dates, and companions. [Rev. Nancy Wilson, then pastor, heads the worldwide 350-church Fellowship of MCCs, replacing founder/activist Dr. Troy Perry, who retired last year.]
I felt needed when I got invited out for coffee after service, or when asked to someone’s at-home get-together, or a birthday celebration. Such sharing was healing for me. I got hugs, too — an awkward experience for me at first, but these days a comfortable way of showing friendship, caring, and solidarity.
In the mid-80s MCC-D moved to its own church building in Birmingham, a time of close fellowship and much sadness. It was the onset of the AIDS crisis in the Detroit area — an insidious terror we fearfully watched move from east and west, closer and closer, inward to home.
These were vibrant MCC-D friends — all in their 30s — who died in the 90s: Robert Cunningham (a tree planted in his memory is gone); Jim Proffit, choir director, and donor partner for a lesbian couple; Tom Bartley, whose son was 16 when Tom died; Jim Slusser, interior decorator and wit, who raised talkative exotic birds; Jim Hohman, recording secretary, who knitted warm scarves during chatty church board meetings; Larry Gainor, high school teacher, solo parent to an adopted son. Larry took a farewell trip to Hawaii before his untimely passing. Pause and remember them.
And at this season of renewal let me salute five brave MCC-D women who have survived with inspiring dignity, determination, and grace the ordeal of breast cancer, radiation, chemo, hair loss, reoccurring fatigue and debilitating pain.
Ellen. Jo. Karen. Dorothy. Annette. You are women of courage, lesbians of exceptional and spirited strength. Pause and honor them. [Gay men: It’s our turn to help. Make online donations this Easter to Breastcancer.org.]
Importantly, too, an activist observation: MCC-Detroit — with its message of LGBT spiritual acceptance, its inclusive ministry, its contributions of time, talent, tithe to sustain our struggle, our organizations, and the needy (straight and gay) stands up to and outshines right-wing, theocratic bigots who abuse the embracing message of love, compassion, and self-worth for all God’s family. Peace! Shalom! Hugs! And, spring . . . .

About the Author:

Charles Alexander