James Baldwin Asks: Who’s Tolerating Whom?

Legendary African-American writer James Baldwin’s 1963 essay “My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” is a brilliantly subversive exploration of internalized prejudice and the rhetoric of “inclusion”. (Thanks to the magazine The Sun for reprinting this essay in a recent issue, where I read it for the first time.)

Dismantling the official institutions of discrimination is only the first phase of the struggle, Baldwin argues. Full equality is impossible without reexamining the very structures of our psyches and seeing how they have been formed by the ideology of racial inferiority. This may require us to exist for some time in a state of groundlessness and fear, because we no longer know who we are. In a masterful reversal of the typical dynamic of “toleration”, Baldwin says that it is actually the oppressive majority who needs the minority’s compassion as they struggle with the loss of their old identity.

Since Baldwin was also a gay man who suffered from homophobia, even within the black activist community, I hope he would not mind my suggesting the obvious analogy to gay people’s struggle for acceptance in the church and society. Imagine the Anglican breakaway churches as your “lost, younger brothers” while reading this excerpt (I’ve added paragraph breaks to make it easier to read online):

You were born where you were born and faced the future that you faced because you were black and for no other reason. The limits of your ambition were, thus, expected to be set forever. You were born into a society which spelled out with brutal clarity, and in as many ways as possible, that you were a worthless human being. You were not expected to aspire to excellence: you were expected to make peace with mediocrity. Wherever you have turned, James, in your short time on this earth, you have been told where you could go and what you could do (and how you could do it) and where you could live and whom you could marry.

I know your countrymen do not agree with me about this, and I hear them saying, “You exaggerate’ ” They do not know Harlem, and I do. So do you. Take no one’s word for anything, including mine-but trust your experience. Know whence you came. If you know whence you came, there is really no limit to where you can go. The details and symbols of your life have been deliberately constructed to make you believe what white people say about you. Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear.

Please try to be clear, dear James, through the storm which rages about your youthful head today, about the reality which lies behind the words acceptance and integration. There is no reason for you to try to become like white people and there is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The really terrible thing, old buddy, is that you must accept them.

And I mean that very seriously. You must accept them and accept them with love. For these innocent people have no other hope. They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed, and to be committed is to be in danger. In this case, the danger, in the minds of most white Americans, is the loss of their identity. Try to imagine how you would feel if you woke up one morning to find the sun shining and all the stars aflame. You would be frightened because it is out of the order of nature. Any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality.

Well, the black man has functioned in the white man’s world as a fixed star, as an immovable pillar: and as he moves out of his place, heaven and earth are shaken to their foundations. You, don’t be afraid. I said that it was intended that you should perish in the ghetto, perish by never being allowed to go behind the white man’s definitions, by never being allowed to spell your proper name. You have, and many of us have, defeated this intention; and by a terrible law, a terrible paradox, those innocents who believed that your imprisonment made them safe are losing their grasp of reality. But these men are your brothers–your lost, younger brothers. And if the word integration means anything, this is what it means: that we, with love, shall force our brothers to see themselves as they are, to cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.

Read the whole essay here.

Tracy Koretsky: “Pietà”

Tracy Koretsky is a poet, novelist, and literary critic who has won over 50 awards, including three Pushcart Prize nominations. Later this fall, she’ll be taking over my poetry critique column in the Winning Writers newsletter (subscribe free). I’ve long been a fan of her novel Ropeless, a comic, poignant story about an old-fashioned Jewish mama, her mentally disabled son, and a dutiful daughter learning to follow her dreams.

Tracy’s poetry collection Even Before My Own Name is now available for downloading as a free e-book in PDF format. Visit her website to order a copy. She kindly shares this poem from the book below.


Just before the end we watched you there,
    stretched out
across your mama’s lap, her strong young man,
    silent, cold;

your eyes closed. I leaned toward the screen when
    they showed
Mary’s face, all the sorrow in the world in them
    stone eyes.

Newslady said some sad soul splattered red paint
your chest, across your mama’s face. I wondered if

it made a tear. Said the madman tried to break you
with a hammer. Couldn’t do it though. Takes more
    than that,

I know. Don’t have to say nothing; a mother just
So I told him he might as well fall in love with a
    rich man

as a poor one. I told him, “You be careful,” you
He promised he was. Got scared when I caught

rubbing his throat. I made him see that doctor
That doctor. Had to wear a mask and robe just to
    see my son,

had to use gloves to touch his hair, straight and
    thin like a white
boy’s. He hated to see me coming at him like that;
    he’d say, “Let me

see your face, Mama.” “No, son.” I had to say.
    Nearly broke
us both in two. So I took him home. Hospital’s no
    place for a boy

to die. Quit my job, brought him cookies. He’d eat
    bag after bag;
always offer me some. I wasn’t sure, but I ate
    anyway. Then

my boy would groan and curl. I knew what I had to
    do. Roll him
over, untape the padding, soak the rag in the
    bucket, wring it,

wring it, pat on the powder with my gloved hand,
    saying “Never
you mind, son.”          My  son.

If your Mama didn’t shed no tears it was ’cause
    she never had to
powder your thirty-year-old bottom. Oh, I know
    you got your

reasons, ain’t for me to question in this life, but as
    a mother,
you know, I gotta say: You wanted my boy, Lord?

you hold him near. You let his pretty voice rise up
    in your choir.
You greedy for my boy, Lord? So bad you couldn’t

just thirty years? Then tell your mama to touch his
    hair without
gloves, Lord, without masks. I never got to hold
    my baby

cool across my lap. Mortician made me pay extra
    just to clean
him. Now, before you go and listen to someone
    else’s troubles

I want to say I saw that statue again: on a card at
    the Well-Mart.
Opened it real fast. It said nothing, just…nothing. I
    took it home.

Put it in his drawer, under the paper. Put a lock
on the door so I can sleep nights. Sometimes I

if they got the thing cleaned off. I dream of rags in
of red, Mary’s stone hand wringing          wringing.

Tuesday Random Song: Joan Baez, “The Altar Boy and the Thief”

Legendary folk singer Joan Baez was a straight ally before it was cool. This song from her 1977 album Blowin’ Away was written in honor of her gay fan-base.

At night in the safety of shadows and numbers
Seeking some turf on which nothing encumbers
The buying and selling of casual looks
Stuff that gets printed in x-rated books
Your mother might have tried to understand
When you were hardly your daddy’s little man
And you gave up saluting the chief
To find yourself some relief

Finely plucked eyebrows and skin of satin
Smiling seductive and endlessly Latin
Olympic body on dancing feet
Perfume thickening the air like heat
A transient star of gay bar fame
You quit your job and changed your name
And you’re nearly beyond belief
As you hunt down a little relief

The seven foot black with the emerald ring
Broke up a fight without saying a thing
As the cops cruised by wanting one more chance
To send Jimmy Baldwin back over to France
And a trucker with kids and a wife
Prefers to spend half of his life
In early Bohemian motif
Playing pool and getting relief

My favorite couple was looking so fine
Dancing in rhythm and laughing in rhyme
In the light of the jukebox all yellow and blue
Holding each other as young lovers do
To me they will always remain
Unshamed, untamed, and unblamed
The altar boy and the thief
Grabbing themselves some relief

The altar boy and the thief
Catching a little relief

(Lyrics courtesy of JoanBaez.com)

Signs of the Apocalypse: “Texts From Last Night”

Helping you make the most creative use of your embarrassment, the website Texts From Last Night invites readers to submit text messages that were sent under the influence of judgment-impairing substances. This 21st-century update on drunk-dialing could be a fruitful source of writing prompts. Imagine beginning a short story with any of the following:

“then i got kicked out of the bar for trying to pay my $30 bar tab in sacajawea dollar coins”

“Hands down the best time I’ve ever had barfing”.

“I never thought that I’d ever use the phrase “and the resulting ice cream explosion” seriously at work… “

“we couldnt find her phone in the morning so i called it and found it under the bed. my name came up as ‘regret’.”

“I just woke up in my car with half the wedding cake next to me. This will not end well.”

“The only reason why I invited him to my party was because he is suicidal.”

Other texts are aphorisms worthy of Dorothy Parker (“you’re putting all your eggs in a very hungover basket”) or brief but telling observations about human relationships (“i love how people use prayer to talk shit about eachother in a ‘holy’ manner”). How true it is.

Pamela Uschuk: “North Carolina Ghost Story”

Pamela Uschuk
is the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Cutthroat. Her new poetry collection Crazy Love (Wings Press, 2009) is enlivened by twin passions for social justice and the beauties of the Colorado landscape. In these poems, nature always provides a restorative place of peace and abundance when the wartime news becomes overwhelming. Beauty is her foundation, but unsentimentally so; the broken human world remains a constant background presence, as if to say that the joys that nourish us are not for our private pleasure alone, but also to give us strength to nourish others.

Read a review of Crazy Love in the literary journal RATTLE: Poetry for the 21st Century. Pam kindly shares a poem from this collection below.

North Carolina Ghost Story

for Elizabeth Dewberry, Teri Hairston and Zelda Lockhart


Sunrise torches the Winston-Salem Projects,
a saxophone of light swelling the cups of red buds
and crenoline skirts of Japanese cherry blossoms
morphing my back yard from orange clay
to Southern belle parfait that a red-tailed hawk
through chasing pigeon breakfast on the wing.
Spooked, the blue jay creaks, a rusty gate
flapping as it navigates dogwood’s white dance.
I walk to campus, hear a rustle,
see how small things of the world survive.
A burrowing chipmunk pokes his nose
from rotten old magnolia leaves,
breathes sky.


I think of my friend, Teri, waking
in the Hood, her dreds emerging
from a thrift store blanket, waking
to pigeons she feeds strut and coo
on the fire escape, waking to
sirens and the smell of grits and coffee
from across the common lawn.

I remember her eyes last night,
chilled even while she laughed,
I don’t want to hear about ghosts. Black girls don’t
like ghosts; don’t tell me about no ghosts, uh, uh.

So Teri waited in the damask parlor
of the elegant old college President’s house
while we three climbed secret stairs
to the attic, where dusky air
compacted like a punctured lung
with each step until our chests squeezed
into the small wheezing cry
of the girl we all heard dragged
across the floor to the terror of her life
and we felt her die
and die and die, her fear bright
and palpable as blood
that streaked her thighs.

None of us could speak but
strained to translate the acid etch
of tears unredeemed, the mystery
inside the marred grain of the oak floor,
but we couldn’t in our strictest scholarly logic
tame the icepick panic
chipping at our own hearts.

Then I whispered what earlier I’d seen —
the vapor trail of the matron
corseted in grim gray muslin,
a living cauldron of grief
boiling through the rooms downstairs,
clouding wallpaper, pink
and oblivious as a bouquet of carnations.

Was she looking for a daughter, hers, her maid’s?
We left the muffled screams of the attic floor,
stained so deep two pine boards had to be
long after the Civil War. We left
with no real clues, just the urine reek
of terror leaking from the walls, the long echo
of screams beating like small fists
or an arrhythmic heart,
a temperature drop
none of us could shake, even when
we descended to the parlor and Teri’s quip
about the questionable ethnicity of Spectral


Accompanied by the sweet flutes of Carolina wrens
I unlock the President’s house
to clean up last night’s party, wondering
about the school’s boast of its underground
and how those who began this school had kept

I scan portraits decorating peppermint walls—
the magnolia blossom faces of gentlemen tobacco
plantation owners who never pulled
a boll from a plant.

Back from the hunt, one gent leads
a dapple grey thoroughbred
to the livery’s whitewashed stalls, his fox hounds
splayed helpless as contorted cutouts
behind the thick black hooves.
The man’s face is pinched, his thin mouth
locked on lust’s hard verb,
eyes ashy, vest cinched tight
under the black waistcoat above white jodpurs
highlighting the bulge between the tops of his
the mahogany blur of a young girl
escaping around the corner
of the elegant white house, up the steps
just out of our sight.

Monday Random Song: Petra, “Don’t Let Your Heart Be Hardened”

Words and music by Bob Hartman
Based on Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:13

Don’t let your heart be hardened – don’t let your love grow cold
May it always stay so childlike – may it never grow too old
Don’t let your heart be hardened – may you always know the cure
Keep it broken before Jesus, keep it thankful, meek, and pure

May it always feel compassion – may it beat as one with God’s
May it never be contrary – may it never be at odds
May it always be forgiving – may it never know conceit
May it always be encouraged – may it never know defeat

May your heart be always open – never satisfied with right
May your heat be filled with courage and strengthened with all might

Let His love rain down upon you
Breaking up your fallow ground
Let it loosen all the binding
Till only tenderness is found

(Lyrics courtesy of LyricsMode.com)

Anglican Allies: The Chicago Consultation

The Chicago Consultation is a group of Episcopal and Anglican bishops, clergy and lay people who support the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion. Their website offers theological essays, Bible studies, videos and links to other materials that support an inclusive reading of Scripture. Their support for GLBT Christians is part of their wider mission to “strengthen the Anglican Communion’s witness against racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexism, and other interlocking oppressions.”

Here’s an excerpt from the sixth of a series of articles on sexuality and Scripture, by the Rev. Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG, the Vicar of Saint James Episcopal Church Fordham:

…Several biblical authors use marriage as a symbol for the relationship between God and Israel, and Christ and the Church. But, as with many of the issues surrounding sexuality, the picture is far more complex than mere equivalence. Not only is marriage only one of many symbols for this relationship, but the marriage symbolism itself is ambivalent, capable of standing for both good and bad relationships between God and God’s people.

There are many earthly phenomena — and Jesus assures us (Matthew 22:30, Mark 12:25, Luke 20:35) that marriage is an earthly phenomenon! — that the biblical authors use (in addition to marriage) to represent the relationship between God and Israel or Christ and the Church: monarch and people, tree and branches, father and children, shepherd and sheep, master and slaves, head and body, cornerstone and building. These symbols all depend on the cultural understanding of those to whom they speak. As noted in an earlier portion of this series of essays, the Letter to the Ephesians collects and intertwines a number of these symbols, in addition to marriage. As Paul himself recognizes, his blending of these symbols gets a bit confusing, as he spins out the various cultural themes of leadership and authority, the relationship of one to many, the nature of organic or bodily union, and love and care.

Thus the Scripture does not single out marriage as a unique symbol for the divine/human relationship — and one can carry the analogy or symbol too far — as some have suggested Paul does — as if women should literally treat their husbands as if they were God. Nor should one carry away from this symbolic usage the notion that because marriage is a symbol for the divine/human interaction it is therefore in itself divine — it remains, according to Jesus, a terrestrial phenomenon. (Luke 20:34-35) So to confuse the symbol with what it symbolizes is a category error. More than a few theologians have of late wandered off in a direction more suggestive of pagan notions of hieros gamos than is warranted by strictly orthodox theology. This includes suggestions that the relationship of a male and female somehow more perfectly embody the imago dei than either does individually. This is very shaky theological ground upon which to tread, as I noted in an earlier section of this series, for it undercuts the doctrine of the Incarnation….

…Given that heterosexual relationships can be used as such multivalent symbols, positive or negative, single and plural, and even with a degree of sexual ambiguity, can faithful, monogamous, life-long same-sex relationships also serve in symbolic capacity — towards good? I will explore the negative imagery in later reflections on Leviticus and Romans, but will note here that the same linkage between idolatry and harlotry is made there between idolatry and some specific forms of same-sexuality. But what might a faithful, loving same-sex relationship (as opposed to the cultic activity described in Leviticus or the orgiastic in Romans) stand for as a symbol — not in the cultures of those times, but in our own?

It is clear that the prevailing biblical symbol for heterosexual relationships is intimately (!) connected with the assumption of male “headship” — thus the related analogies with master and slave, head and body, and so forth, assume a cultural notion of male authority, likened to the authority of Christ over the church. So powerful is this imagery that men become “feminine” in relation to God — as C.S. Lewis noted in his emendation to the conclusion of Goethe’s Faust.

But what of Christ — who voluntarily (and temporarily) assumes the position of a subordinate — not only in the great kenosis of the Incarnation, but in the symbolic act of the Maundy footwashing — while remaining Lord and God? When Jesus assumes the position of a servant to wash his disciples’ feet, he is also assuming the position of the woman who washed his feet with her tears. It is no accident that Jesus uses this powerful acted symbol to show his disciples the danger of assuming the position of authority over rather than assuming the position of service to. (It is perhaps ironic that in the Roman Catholic Church only men are to take part in the Maundy ritual as either foot-washers or as those whose feet are washed. How much more powerful a symbol it would be if a bishop were to wash the feet of women?)

Jesus is secure in his knowledge of himself, yet is free to set aside the role of authority to assume the role of a slave, a role played elsewhere in the passion narrative by a woman. As is obvious, in a same-sex relationship there are no stereotypical sex roles for the partners. They are, like Jesus, free to take upon themselves, in a dynamic interchange, various opportunities to love and to serve. This flexibility is no doubt one of the reasons same-sexuality is seen as a threat to entrenched systems of automatic deferral to culturally established hierarchies. Like Christianity itself, same-sexuality “turns the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) by challenging the “natural” roles assigned by culture. Same-sex couples are thus capable of being truly natural symbols for the mutuality of equals, free from the traditional roles assigned by the culture to men and women. Whether the culture sees this as a threat or a promise will depend upon what they value.

Read the whole essay here.

Friday Random Song: Sam Sparro, “Black & Gold”

I was listening to my favorite satellite radio station, XM 81 (a/k/a the gay party music station), the other day, and heard this song which seemed to be about the question of God’s existence and how life had no meaning without God. This excited me for two reasons. First, I like to see the Gospel pop up in unlikely places. Second, this song brings together two worlds that many people try to keep apart. Sam Sparro is an openly gay pop star who’s using his art to voice our spiritual questions and yearnings, outside the predictable niche of Christian contemporary music.

Read more about Sam Sparro at the Dead Boy Walking blog.

If the fish swam out of the ocean
and grew legs and they started walking
and the apes climbed down from the trees
and grew tall and they started talking

and the stars fell out of the sky
and my tears rolled into the ocean
now i’m looking for a reason why
you even set my world into motion

’cause if you’re not really here
then the stars don’t even matter
now i’m filled to the top with fear
but it’s all just a bunch of matter
’cause if you’re not really here
then i don’t want to be either
i wanna be next to you
black and gold
black and gold
black and gold

i looked up into the night sky
and see a thousand eyes staring back
and all around these golden beacons
i see nothing but black

i feel a way of something beyond them
i don’t see what i can feel
if vision is the only validation
then most of my life isn’t real

’cause if you’re not really here
then the stars don’t even matter
now i’m filled to the top with fear
but it’s all just a bunch of matter
’cause if you’re not really here
then i don’t want to be either
i wanna be next to you
black and gold
black and gold
black and gold

(Lyrics courtesy of LyricsMania.com)

Clergy Unite to Protest Oppression of Sexual Minorities in Uganda

Diana Sands, LGBT Program Associate of the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office, has gathered signatures from 80 religious leaders, representing a variety of denominations around the world, for an open letter protesting the Ugandan government’s recent initiative to step up persecution of homosexuals and transgender persons.

UU-UNO is seeking donations to pay for publication of this letter as a paid editorial in Ugandan newspapers. To help, visit the donation page on their website, choose the “Your Choice” donation amount option, and write in the “Your Choice” box the amount to be donated followed by the word “Uganda” (Ex. “25 Uganda”). Or send a check to UU-UNO, 777 UN Plaza, suite 7G, New York, NY 10017. Make sure that “Uganda Project” is noted in the memo line or in an attached note.

If you’re on Facebook, join the Cause “Support Publication of Uganda Letter from Religious Leaders”.

Thanks to Diana for permission to reprint the letter on this blog, and to Steve and Jose at Other Sheep for bringing this project to my attention in their e-newsletter.

Open Letter to Hon. Dr. James Nsaba Buturo, Ugandan Minister of Ethics and Integrity

Hon. Dr. James Nsaba Buturo
Minister of Ethics and Integrity
Office of the President, Parliamentary Building
P. O. Box 7168
Kampala, Uganda

Honorable Minister Buturo:
As leaders and members of faith-based communities we are gravely concerned about recent events which endanger the lives and human rights of many Ugandans. Faith-based groups from Uganda and the United States called for the formation of an official anti-homosexuality task force after a three day seminar organized by Family Life Network (FLN), a Ugandan organization with U.S. support that since 2002 represents itself as working for “the restoration of Ugandan family and values.”

According to news reports, this task force would lobby to create a special division in the police force to persecute lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. It would also seek to lobby for harsher penalties for homosexual conduct and “out” people in different spheres. These actions would create an atmosphere of fear, driving essential family and community members underground, and would tear apart families and communities on the basis of gender identities and sexual orientations.

As people of faith, we believe that perfect love casts out all fear {I John 4}. We believe that all people are created in the image of God, and that honesty before God and our fellow human beings is essential to a just and equitable society. We cannot condone any position or practice, which in the name of faith, seeks to do less than extend this perfect love and work for this just society.

Prior to the seminar, Stephen Langa, Executive Director of FLN, and Dr. Scott Lively, a US spokesperson at the seminar, met with members of parliament and the Ugandan Christian Lawyers Association. According to Dr. Lively, he also met with you and other influential leaders.

We are concerned that the allegations raised by Dr. Lively and Mr. Langa, wrongly associating sexual minorities and human rights defenders with sexual abuse of people, will lead to violence against people on the grounds of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. This in turn will work against building communities of openness and trust and families where all members are valued and cherished.

With many people of faith throughout the world, we hold that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created in the image of God and are loved by God. We further believe that the scriptural responsibility incumbent upon people of faith and good will across the globe is to respond to hate with compassion, charity and love. We strive to do that with this letter and our appeal to you as a person of good will and a public servant.

Uganda stands out as a nation which fosters spiritual diversity among its diverse population. As people of faith, we believe, as we trust you do, that state impartiality on spiritual matters is critical for the maintenance of peace and the enjoyment of religious freedom for all Ugandans.

The FLN brings into Uganda, with the support of a few US faith-based organizations, attitudes of hatred and intolerance that digress from the attitudes of compassion and tolerance advocated by most religious organizations globally. What we share in common as members of diverse traditions and co-signers of this letter is our firm conviction that we are called to love all people completely and equally, and to accept the place of every person in God’s creation.

As Minister for Ethics and Integrity, you represent the government of Uganda and as such you have an obligation to resist calls to limit the human rights of any group of people based on the beliefs of another group of people. We write to you seeking your pledge to honor the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which affirms the equality of all people. We pledge our continued witness to the truth of God’s unconditional and universal love for all humanity, and to a more accurate and just representation of the faith we serve.

As people of faith, we believe it is the responsibility of the government to set the standard in matters of civil and human equality by investing time and resources into education about the diversity of human sexuality and gender identity. It is the responsibility of the government to facilitate a productive and respectful dialogue between people of differing religious and civic views. A peaceful and nonviolent society in which the rights of all are equally recognized and protected is achieved when the government takes a strong stand to defend religious liberty and diversity of belief.

We call on you today, as we did in a previous letter [14/2/2008 tinyurl.com/upendouganda] to publicly lead Uganda in becoming a model nation, working towards ending all discrimination against its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and replacing judgmentalism and oppression with acceptance of diversity; hatred and violence with love and compassion for all.


1. The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
2. The Rev. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ
3. The Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
4. The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ
5. The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Chair, Global Justice Ministry, Metropolitan Community Churches
6. The Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
7. The Most Rev. Craig Bergland, EFR, Presiding Bishop, The Universal Anglican Church
8. Maria Jespen, Bishop of Hamburg and Luebeck in the Northelbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany
9. The Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Unitarian Universalist Association of Uganda
10. The Rev. Samuel Waweru, Presbyterian Church of East Africa PCEA, Nairobi, Kenya
11. The Rev. Steve Parelli, Other Sheep East Africa
12. Mel White, Soulforce
13. The Rev. William G. Sinkford, Past President, Unitarian Universalist Association
14. The Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy, Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ
15. The Rev. Robert B. Coleman, Minister of Mission and Social Justice, The Riverside Church in the City of New York
16. The Rev. David Vargas, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, President, Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Discipl
es of Christ), Indianapolis, IN
17. The Rev. Cally Rogers-Witte, Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, OH
18. The Reverend Eric M. Cherry, Director of International Resources, Unitarian Universalist Association
19. The Reverend Keith Kron, Director of the Office of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Concerns, Unitarian Universalist Association
20. The Rev. Mark Worth, Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Castine, Maine, USA
21. The Rev. Ann Marie Alderman, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville, NC, USA
22. The Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay, House Of Rainbow MCC, Lagos, Nigeria
23. The Reverend Krishna Stone, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, USA
24. The Rev. Cn. Mary June Nestler, Canon for Ministry Formation, Episcopal Diocese of Utah
25. The Rev. Jared R. Stahler, Pastor, Saint Peter’s Church, NY
26. Rabbi Laurence Edwards, Congregation Or Chadash, Chicago
27. The Rev Deniray Mueller, Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, Assistant to the Canon for Public Policy
28. The Rev. Dámaris E. Ortega, United Church of Christ
29. Sister Betty Obal, Sisters of Loretto
30. Sister Mary Peter Bruce, Sisters of Loretto Community
31. The Rev. H. Scott Matheney, Chaplain and Dean of Religious Life, Elmhurst College, Chicago
32. Christian Albers, Pastor in the Protestant Altstadt Congregation, Hachenburg, Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau, Germany
33. Rabbi Renni S. Altman, Great Neck, NY
34. The Rev. Renee (Maurine) C. Waun, D.Min., Pittsburgh, PA
35. The Rev. Edith Gause, Consultant for Transitional Ministries, Pasadena, CA
36. The Reverend Lynn M. Acquafondata, Unitarian Universalist minister, Pittsburgh, PA
37. The Rev. Rebecca Booher, Minister
38. John Clinton Bradley, Acting Executive Director, Integrity USA
39. The Rev. Dr. Joan Kavanaugh, the Executive Director of the Counseling Center at The Riverside Church, NY
40. The Rev. Fr. Japé Mokgethi-Heath, Acting Executive Director ANERELA+ and INERELA+, South Africa & United Kingdom
41. The Rev Dee Cooper, Pastor, Head of Staff, Church of the Hills PCUSA
42. Anivaldo Padilha, KOINONIA Presença Ecumênica e Serviço, Rio de Janeiro-RJ, Brazil
43. Malte Lei, Vicar, Northelbian Evangelical Lutheran Church, Germany
44. The Rev. C. Edward Geiger, United Church of Christ
45. The Rev. Patricia Ackerman, Anglican Women’s Empowerment, New York City
46. Dr. Arnold Thomas, Minister of Education, The Riverside Church in the City of New York
47. Dr. Brad Braxton, Senior Minister, The Riverside Church in the City of New York
48. Penelope McMullen, Sisters of Loretto, New Mexico
49. The Rev. LaMarco A. Cable, Associate for Global Advocacy and Education, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ, Indianapolis, IN
50. The Rev. Robert Galloway, Metropolitan Community Church of Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee
51. The Rev. Mieke Vandersall, Presbyterian Welcome, Minister Director, NY
52. The Rev. Charles Booker-Hirsch, Pastor, Northside Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor, MI
53. Harry Knox, Director, Religion and Faith Program, Human Rights Campaign Foundation
54. The Rev. Laurel Hallman, Unitarian Universalist Minister, Dallas, TX
55. The Rev. Robert C. Hastings, United Methodist Church
56. The Rev. Ray Neal, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church, Seattle, WA
57. The Rev. Dr. Neil G Thomas, Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles, CA
58. The Rev. Hugh Wire, Presbyterian Church, USA
59. The Rev. Janine C. Stock, D.Min, JD, All Saints American Catholic Church
60. The Rev. David E. Cobb, Sr. Minister, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Lynchburg, VA
61. Lowell O. Erdahl, Bishop Emeritus, St. Paul Area Synod, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
62. The Rev. Allan B. Jones, Retired United Methodist Clergy, Santa Rosa, CA
63. The Rev. Doug Johnson, Presbyterian minister and hospital chaplain, Billings, MT
64. The Rev. Christopher Eshelman, United Methodist Church, Wichita, KS
65. The Rev. Gary Mitchener, Pastor, St.Alban Episcopal (Anglican) Church, Cleveland Heights, OH
66. The Rev. Father Andrew Gentry, FCSF (Faithful Companions of St. Francis), Chaplain to the Bethlehem Community, Liverpool UK
67. The Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, CA
68. The Rev. Jonathan Wright-Gray, Senior Minister, The First Church in Sterling, MA
69. The Rev. Dr. Penny Christianson, pastor, Tualatin United Methodist Church, Tualatin, OR
70. The Rev. Galen Guengerich, Senior Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, New York
71. The Rev. LaTeasha A. Richardson, MAR, United Church of Christ, Minnesota
72. The Rev. Robert Forsberg, High St. Presbyterian Church, Oakland, CA
73. The Rev. Kerry Boese, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
74. The Rev. Mary Jane Donohue, Episcopal Priest, Diocese of Connecticut
75. The Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, Church of God in Christ (Pentecostal)
World Officers of the World Federation of Methodist & Uniting Church Women
76. Chita R. Millan, World President – Philippines
77. Shunila Ruth, World Secretary, Pakistan
78. Lyra P. Richards, World Treasurer, West Indies
79. Rosemary Wass, President Emerita, United Kingdom
80. Brenda Smith, UN Representative, USA

Alegria Imperial: “To This We Wake”

Poet Alegria Imperial, a regular reader of this blog, was inspired by some recent posts to write these reflections and a poem, which she kindly shares with us:

“Reading more of gay marriage and its brambles, and knowing a few friends who in their quiet wordless moments peer beyond the seasons, I am convinced how unfair this world will always be.

“I believe that despite our knowing what in and how equality works, our friends will never attain it–not in our lifetime or even the next. But I suppose we can’t be more than our human nature limits us to be and yet, like you’ve shown in supporting their cause, we can by leaping beyond the barriers we’ve created be quite meta-human. Like compassion, understanding and the daring to break confines must be scary for those who can really make a difference but you have done it, are doing it.

“Yet in spite of their fractured world, here is what I sense is our friends’ legacy.”

To This We Wake
by Alegria Imperial

Scraps of purple on winter dawns
slung on arms of mornings–
a sun awaiting for us
in between strutting seagulls
pigeons braiding shadows–
we snuggle.

We trace our days in dreams we
birth at dawn
when swatches of light
tickle us out to walk
on grounds of endearments our steps
have marked engraved by winds.

We step on
shredded blooms the seasons
gift us, stealing kisses, time on
halved imperfect whispers, wishes we rip
off the day, their ends we spangle on
skies, our secret into stars.

We wake yet to another day–
what lies deeper than frost farther
than slumber, closer
to the core where
seasons sleep: to this, to this
we always wake.

Alegria is currently part of an editorial team assembling an anthology of women’s life stories. Women Elders in Action, the organization for which she volunteers in Vancouver, compiled 77 taped interviews of unattached elderly women living on low-income in the lower mainland of British Columbia.

Alegria writes, “What an amazing trove of childhood memories, broken dreams and marriages, turning points and awakenings to global needs. They have debunked the myths women are brought up on but in surviving and living lives more impressive in reality than myths could ever be, they have given rise or have created a “mythogyny”–the book title. We hope to launch it in mid-Sept. The book is funded by Status of Women Canada. By the way, one of them is the first lesbian couple to have won custody over their children in a court battle.”

Read more about this project here.