Wednesday, October 12, 2005

So a Couple Clerics Walk Into a Gay Bar....

Retirement, schretirement.

This is just too good not to post. A pastor and some friends decide to hit the town and shirk the mufti.... They're Lutherans, but still a worthwhile story
A few weeks ago, I did something I never thought I would do: I went to a gay bar with some friends and wore my cleric [i.e. a pastor's "uniform," black shirt with white collar]. Another friend wore his cleric as well. We weren't doing this as a joke or anything, we simply didn't have time to change because our friends didn't give us the time. And the responses we got were troubling to me. . .but I should have expected them.

Some looked at us as though we were jokes ["is it Halloween already?"]. Some looked at us with great fear in their eyes. Some responded with anger ["I'm Jewish, I'll have none of THAT"]. Some responded with disbelief ["are you REALLY priests?"]. One thing that I took note of: most people responded with some sort of emotion. I think everyone in that bar noticed us.

It amazes me that a simple uniform [one black shirt, with a thin band of white at the collar] would elicit such a strong reaction for all people. Of course, when considering all of this it really shouldn't surprise me because it has been hammered into the heads and souls of queer folks that they have no place at the great heavenly banquet, let alone a family supper table. Perhaps it was a bit like a KKK member in full garb entering a Southern Baptist church.

Even with all of the emotion flying through the room that night, we had a number of wonderful conversations. Many people had the courage to come up to us and ask, "are you really Catholic priests?" I would correct them and say that we're Lutheran pastors, gay ones at that. Then the next question would be: where is your church? They were so amazed that they wanted to come and see what my church had to say about Jesus.
It might be slightly off-topic, but this reminds me of the year a certain straightie wore a cassock and surplice for Halloween. For the curious, it was loaned Gammarelli, of course. I'm a good Philadelphia Catholic and wouldn't be caught dead in anything else.

It was possibly the most comfortable thing I've ever slipped on, but it was amazing for this reason: even in a time when the church had taken more than its share of its hits, I don't know if it was my telegenic boyishness or what, but people just gravitated, they just lit up -- they forgot for the moment that it was 31 October and that this guy walking down the street was just in costume. But what a costume it was, right? For the people, it seemed to be a sign of hope. It was bizarre and amazing at the same time.

Hey, it accomplished some good. Or at least that's how I remember it. And it was a bittersweet reminder of the cup I chose not to take.

People in the street stopped me, asking for prayers and blessings -- a homeless man asked me to hear his confession, so I had to blow my cover and direct him to the nearest parish. But I did stop and pray with him for a minute.

Point of all this? I don't know. That the Lutheran pastor inadvertently brought about an effective, fruitful teaching moment? Or that Halloween is three weeks away and I still don't have a costume?

Figure it out, combox....



Blogger the Savage said...

Figure it out? Try this on. The right place for wearing clerics is in the street, not in a gay bar. The priests I know who wear a cassock (sans half-cape), or at least clerics, in public report amazing things happening to them all the time.

12/10/05 14:36  
Blogger Tim said...

From your many recent posts on the subject I think this costume would be the perfect choice.

12/10/05 15:05  
Blogger Jeff said...

I have a friend who's a Melkite deacon who often wears a black shirt and collar--I call it a GREEK collar to tease him--in public, on airplane flights and such. He says it keeps him up to snuff and "makes me a better person."

I think Roman Rite deacons aren't supposed to wear clericals in the US, but there seems to be no rule against Melkites dressing like Romans!

And of course, there's a place for all sinners at the banquet table, just as long as they own up and let themselves be forgiven. I hear the invited guests didn't show. But be sure to dress right; the Host is finicky about that.

12/10/05 18:14  
Blogger Fungulo said...

I too have a friend who is a Melkite Deacon who says wearing his sollar in public "makes me a better person" but he always removes it as soon as he gets back to the condo he shares with his boyfriend in California . . .

13/10/05 09:25  

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