New York City Days

Greetings, loyal readers…I’m back from a wonderful vacation and novel-research trip to New York City, where I immersed myself in the world of fashion photography. Hidden treasure of the week: the photography section at the Strand Bookstore, which surpasses even the International Center of Photography gift shop. Speaking of ICP, their Richard Avedon retrospective was a gorgeous tour through 60 years of changes in female roles and beauty standards. Kudos also to the Conde Nast Library for the research assistance and unlimited free color photocopies. (Did we really wear such sensible clothes in the 1990s? I was surprised at how little skin was showing.) Jordan Schaps of C.O.D. Inc. (Creatives on Demand), formerly the creative director of New York Magazine, generously shared anecdotes and information to make my plot more accurate.

On Sunday I attended services at the Metropolitan Community Church, an ecumenical Christian denomination that was founded in 1968 to serve the GLBT community. Visit their In Our Own Words website to learn more about MCC worldwide. The NYC parish’s website is here. I loved this church’s mix of positive features from different traditions. The service followed a simplified version of the Episcopal liturgy, with lectionary Bible readings and communion, while the praise band played joyful, jazzed-up versions of evangelical standards, such as “When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There”. At communion, the prayer team laid hands on each of us and prayed for us individually. Their dynamic preacher, Rev. Pat Bumgardner, spoke about the inseparable connection between love and truth. Visit their YouTube channel for some videos of Rev. Pat and other affirming Christian speakers.

On Sunday afternoon, I attended a rally for equal marriage rights in New York State. The governor’s bill has passed the Assembly, but we’re concerned that the Senate won’t act on it before the June recess. If you’re a New York voter, call your senator today. The Empire State Pride Agenda website has information on how to get involved.

This NY Times article suggests that opposition groups have been overextended by the sudden expansion of equal marriage in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Iowa. I know Schadenfreude is very un-Christian, but I think this paragraph says all you need to know about the “family values” crowd:

The state’s Roman Catholic bishops have been somewhat distracted, too, having focused their lobbying energies this session on defeating a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil claims, and have appeared unprepared for the battle over marriage.

Yesterday, I also had the pleasure of meeting Steve Parelli, executive director of Other Sheep, which ministers to GLBT Christians in the US, Latin America, and East Africa. Steve and I shared our experiences of how the closeted life harms the families of gays and lesbians, too. A former American Baptist pastor who was expelled from the ministry when he came out, Steve is going to be ordained at MCCNY later this month.