Monday, March 05, 2007

The Rainbow Presence Declaration

Something new landed in my inbox today. The Rainbow Presence declaration urges gay/lesbian Episcopalians and their supporters to take this modest action on Easter Sunday: that "we will be present in our churches and make ourselves visibly known to our fellow parishioners, clergy, bishops, and leadership through the wearing of rainbow sashes, stoles, hats, buttons, and other articles of clothing and accessories." Go to their site to read the whole rationale.

This notice kicked up some thoughts and feelings for me.

Right after the dastardly primates' communiqué, I had the treat of spending the weekend with a couple who are warm friends of mine. They let me rant about the communiqué and about TEC's (thus far) lukewarm response. They literally cried with me about some parts of this whole thing. They are good friends, warm people, and solid Episcopalians. At some point in the conversation, A. asked what she could do to show her solidarity with gay/lesbian Episcopalians, and she asked whether there was a button or other insignia she could wear as sign and symbol of her support. I'll confess (with some chagrin now) that I kinda "went off" on her – explaining that married heterosexuals wearing buttons or applying bumper-stickers is too cheap and easy. I think I said something along the lines of "it's like putting a "Defenders of Wildlife" bumper-sticker on an SUV."

And still this couple persisted: What, they asked, could they do to make their support of me and of all gay men and lesbians in our church visible? To let people know they stand in solidarity with the mainstream of TEC and with the gay men and lesbians they know and love?

I had no answer. But I sure loved them for asking the question, and for the support that underlay the question.

Then I read about the "rainbow presence" initiative that some people in our church have launched. I confess my first, stupid reaction was to dismiss it. But y'know what? It's the only thing I've seen anyone propose as a way to make this not merely about gay people – as a way to let everyone know that we do indeed have many allies. The more I've considered it, the more I am grateful for it. And the more I realize it is anything but "cheap" or "trite." It's a way to let our many supporters make their support known. And for that I am grateful.

In quiet moments, I let myself fantasize about what it would be like to walk into my parish on Easter morning and see rainbow symbols all around me. If that happened -- Oh, my God! if that happened!! ... I would probably be prostrate. But then reality sinks in: In this conservative parish, it won't happen. I know it won't. But … ah … what a delightful moment I can have, just thinking about what such a gesture would mean to me. And maybe that's one of the blessings that the Rainbow Presence can give us: the ability to dream, to fantasize, to hope.

I will have my own quandary that day, as I'm scheduled to be a Eucharist Minister. So I'll be vested in my black cassock and white surplice. A rainbow boa would certainly be most unseemly. But I'll think of something ….

So I am grateful for the Rainbow Presence initiative, and I repent of my earlier hesitation. I'm grateful that someone is trying to answer the question that I could not: How can our allies make their support clear and visible? And I will definitely tell my friends D & A about this possibility.

Update (03.09.07): Friend and reader Ann sends me this news tonight:

Well, well, well. It seems our friends over at StandFirm are not amused by the Rainbow Presence. They've taken a page from the Roman Catholic heirarchy's response to the Rainbow Sash Movement and are proposing that anyone wearing a rainbow "sash or insignia" be denied communion. You can read the whole proposal, and comments [warning: don your asbestos gear] here.


Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I'm with you, Lisa. In fact, I'm going to find something and start wearing it to every church event I attend---which is probably far too many! ;-)

For most of the people in my parish, this issue isn't even visible. We are pretty progressive---we have two liberal priests, and it is made very clear that we are inclusive. But to my knowledge, we don't have any "out" GLBTs there. I don't hear people talking about the issue much, and we need to get them talking before it's too late.

Thanks for the idea.


3/06/2007 10:02 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Thanks, Paige. It's not an "issue" in my parish either. I'm the only "out" gay/lesbian parishioner. Our parish is very "nice" and -- as I gather is true in yours -- they just don't want to upset the applecart. It's an insidious "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement.

Makes me weary. Very, very weary.

3/06/2007 11:56 PM  
Blogger Ann said...

Thanks Lisa - and I agree it "ain't much" but a drop in the bucket of what needs to happen.

3/08/2007 1:23 PM  

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