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    Winds of Change

    By Joanie Juster–

    Sometimes, as I prepare to write this column by gathering news from all over, themes will emerge. In our last issue, it was women in sports. This week, religion rose to the surface. Historic change is coming to old institutions; the winds of change are in the air.

    ‘And Like That, the Church Changed’

    History was made in North Carolina on May 1, 2024, at the annual United Methodist Church (UMC) General Conference. In case you haven’t been following this story: for several years there has been a mighty and often bitter struggle within the UMC—one of the largest Protestant denominations in the United States—over their policies toward LGBTQ+ people, including their longstanding ban against LGBTQ+ clergy. Leading the way in this protracted and often contentious power struggle within the church has been Bishop Karen Oliveto, whom many Bay Area folks remember fondly from her years of service as Lead Pastor at Glide Memorial Church. Oliveto moved to Colorado in 2016 to become Bishop of the Mountain Sky Conference of the UMC—the first out lesbian elected to that position.

    The internal struggles of the UMC are being played out in other denominations as well. While many churches are becoming more welcoming, others are falling under the sway of Christian Nationalists. Leaders like Bishop Oliveto and her colleagues need and deserve our support. You can listen to Bishop Oliveto talking about this historic change in church practice, and what led up to it, here:

    Celebrating Reverend Cecil Williams

    On April 22, San Francisco lost one of its most beloved and revered leaders. For over 60 years, Rev. Cecil Williams was at the forefront of social justice movements, as the longtime pastor of Glide Memorial Church, and as an activist fighting for the rights, the dignity, and the very lives of the poor and disenfranchised. Along with his wife and partner at Glide, the late Janice Mirikitani, he created a continuum of community support programs at Glide that have helped countless people in need. His commitment to radical love changed countless lives here in San Francisco, and around the world.

    Rev. Williams’ life and legacy will be celebrated in a service on Sunday, May 12, at 1 pm at Glide Memorial Church. Get there early; it is bound to be standing-room only. In the meantime, you can read the book Williams and Mirikitani wrote about their work in 2013, Beyond the Possible: 50 Years of Creating Radical Change at a Community Called Glide.

    Queer and Catholic Webinar

    Pope Francis recently made headlines (again) for speaking out on homosexuality, and specifically on transgender persons, in a way that contradicted his reputation for being, perhaps, the most liberal and understanding of all popes. His statements made it clear that the Catholic Church still has a very long way to go before they can be considered welcoming.

    The Center for LGBTQ & Gender Studies in Religion and LGBTQ-RAN will host a Zoom webinar on May 16, “Queer and Catholic: Making Sense of Recent (and Confusing) Catholic Statements on LGBTQ Issues.” The presentation will try to make some sense of recent statements by the Pope and other Roman Catholic leaders. For more info, and to sign up for this presentation:

    Save the Date: People’s March Will Return on June 23

    The People’s March is celebrating its fifth anniversary, returning this year on a new date and with some new twists. Created during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020 and the social turmoil of the George Floyd protests, The People’s March was organized by activists Alex U. Inn and Juanita MORE! as a non-corporate, social justice-centered event—a call to action centering the needs of the most marginalized in our community. While addressing serious societal needs, it is also joyful, defiant, and fun.

    While previously held on Pride Sunday, this year’s People’s March will take place on Sunday, June 23. It will begin with a rally at Polk and Washington Streets at 11 am, then proceed down Polk Street to Music City at 1353 Bush Street for a music festival, drag contest, and more. Stay tuned for more details of speakers, performers, and more in future editions, but in the meantime, save the date!

    Pride on Film

    Several LGBTQ+-centered film festivals are scheduled in the coming weeks. Mark your calendar now so you don’t miss these:

    Frameline: One of the most anticipated events of Pride Month in San Francisco each year is the San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival, more affectionately known as Frameline. This year, Frameline 48, which will run from June 19 through 29, will feature a few new twists. With its usual centerpiece home, the Castro Theatre, closed for renovation, Frameline will take place at a variety of venues, including the Roxie Theatre, Palace of Fine Arts, Herbst Theatre, Vogue Theatre, and the New Parkway Theater in Oakland. Frameline has also announced that it will be celebrating Juneteenth with a free Castro Street Block Party featuring live music and an outdoor screening of a documentary about queer rapper Lil Nas X.

    One highlight of this year’s festival will be the long-awaited world premiere of Sally! This feature documentary about the brilliant, charismatic lesbian activist and educator, Sally Gearhart, will be presented in collaboration with KQED. Be sure to catch this one. Details of dates and times will follow later in May.

    One more note regarding Frameline: A festival this large, and at so many venues, needs hundreds of volunteers to keep it going. Sign up now for one of the coveted volunteer spots:

    Queer Women of Color Film Festival: This festival will be celebrating its 20th anniversary from June 14–16, showing 44 films over 5 screenings at the newly renovated Presidio Theatre. This festival is committed to making these screenings accessible to all, so admission will be free. Their commitment to disability justice ensures inclusivity by including subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, audio descriptions for the blind and low-vision, and ASL interpretation for all screenings. Their goal is to make it possible for all to fully share in and enjoy the cinematic experience.

    CAAMFEST: Presented during May—Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month—CAAMFest is presented by CAAM, the Center for Asian American Media. The world’s largest showcase for new Asian American and Asian film, food, and music programs, CAAMFest will present over 100 films in a variety of venues in San Francisco and Oakland. One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be All Shall Be Well, the acclaimed new film by Hong Kong director Ray Yeung, centered on a lesbian couple in their 60s.

    LGBT Online Coming Out Film Festival: The LGBT National Help Center is launching a new project, and is now seeking submissions for the first-ever LGBT Online Coming Out Film Festival. The plan is for the festival to be free to view online for six months, beginning on National Coming Out Day, October 11. Submissions are being accepted now through August 1. The film festival will be seen as an extension of the Help Center’s primary mission, which is operating a free and confidential support hotline. More info:

    Spring TLGBQ+ Career Fair

    Looking for a job, or maybe a career change? The SF LGBT Center’s Employment Services team has announced they will be holding their first career fair of 2024 on Tuesday, May 14, from 12–3 pm, at the SF LGBT Center. The Fair will feature Bay Area employers from a broad spectrum of industries, all of whom have committed to learning about and providing a safe, supportive workplace environment for LGBTQ+ workers.

    But the opportunity to meet with prospective employers is just the beginning. The Fair will also offer an opportunity to get free professional headshots, access to the Center’s Cyber Center so attendees can print their résumés and apply for open positions after meeting with employers, and there will be a lounge area for networking with other jobseekers. For more info:

    Joanie Juster is a long-time community volunteer, activist, and ally.

    In Case You Missed It
    Published on May 9, 2024