Sunday, July 03, 2016

SF Cathedral Adds LGBT Flag to its Orlando Shrine

On a day filled with unexpected religious and spiritual occurrences, the first miracle of the day was Mike, very against his nature, accompanying me to the action at the seat of the San Francisco Archdiocese, St Mary's Cathedral. Joining us was snap-happy pal Bill Wilson clicking pics.

For the few dozen parishioners in attendance this morning, we displayed our LGBT rainbow flag featuring the names of the 49 gay and Latinx folks killed in the Orlando massacre. Our display was also seen by tourists in the plaza and traffic driving by. 

At one point during our presentation, two priests came out to greet us and look at our memorial flag. I held my breath to see what they would say. Then the second miracle happened. Unexpectedly, they informed us that they had erected their own shrine to the Orlando massacre inside the cathedral. Who knew? They welcomed us inside to see it.

We were being watched at the time by three black men  on the plaza dresses in all-black business suits, which were pretty oppressive for this sunny day. I introduced our gay team to them, and learned they're the security crew protecting the church.

Every request to pose for Bill's camera was granted by the clerics.Here we are at the heavy wrought-iron gates of the entrance to St. Mary's chapel. Nope, didn't expect for this to be happening atop Cathedral Hill this morning. 

We came inside to see the temporary shrine, which comprised white flowers, a waist-high table with a church vestment covering it. Priests Larry Finnegan and Art Albano welcomed us to add our flag to the alter, an offer we gladly accepted. We solemnly added the rainbow memorial flag to the shrine draping it over the table.

A scroll-like sheet of white paper hung in the background, printed in black ink were the names of the Orlando victims, and next to the alter-piece was a prayer for them in English and Spanish resting on an easel.

The priests invited us to stay for mass. They promised to announce our presence, explain our mission in coming to the cathedral today and sharing the news that we gifted the rainbow flag to both the parish and Pope Francis in Rome at the Vatican.

The gesture was a lovely one, far more than I could have hoped for. We graciously declined and explained we needed to get to brunch — the gay version of Sunday Mass. We all enjoyed a light laugh, before shaking hands and saying parting pleasantries.

Here's Mike taking part in the third miracle this morning: speaking with the reporter from KCBS Radio who covered our action. Look at the pride of my gaze as Mike makes his remarks. My activist hero and fabulous hubby!

All in all, this engagement with the St Mary's folks was queer and quite amazing. From witnessing their own initiative at remembering the Orlando 49 LGBT and Latinx dead, to the warm and accepting time with them, not to mention and the participation of Mike and Bill Wilson, this made for a perfect small act of remembrance and visibility on a glorious Fourth of July Weekend Sunday!

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