Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson from New Hampshire is in town to attend San Francisco Pride for the first time. The election of the openly gay Robinson to bishop in 2003 contributed to a schism within the Anglican Communion, a worldwide association of churches.
KQED’s Stephanie Martin spoke to Robinson over the phone today about his participation in Pride. Listen below; a transcript follows.
Have you ever been to the San Francisco Pride celebration before?
This is my first time at San Francisco Pride and I’m just so excited to be here because this is the great granddaddy of all celebrations.
What made you decide this year you should come?
I’ve been part of Pride in other cities and I got an invitation by Oasis California, which is the Episcopal diocese ‘s ministry to and with the LGBT community, and I wanted to be supportive of them. I also think it’s important for religious groups to participate in Pride because, let’s face it, it’s synagogues and churches and mosques who are responsible for most of the discrimination that the LGBT community has experienced over the years, and it’s important that community hear the faith community is changing and is willing to accept them and love them for who they are.
And I understand you’re going to be delivering something similar to that message the morning before Pride?
At 9 a.m. on the corner of Main and Folsom, we’ll be doing a service. The Lutheran bishop will be celebrating the communion service and I will be preaching. It’s a chance for LGBT folks who are people of faith to gather and remember that the acceptance and the affirmation that we so want from the culture ultimately comes from God, who loves all of God’s children, including gay and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Do you have any sense of how you’re going to be feeling as you actually parade down Market street?
Often pride is cited as one of the great sins, but in fact for oppressed people having sense of pride and who you are and who God created you to be is really the key to happiness and peace. So a Pride celebration is anything but sinful; it is a real affirmation, both from the people in the parade and those watching it, that we are citizens of this country and entitled to our civil rights, and as people of faith we lay claim to the love that God has for all of God’s children. So as one of the gay men in that parade I will be proud to march with my brothers and sisters.
You’re no stranger to controversy. Do you expect your presence at this parade will stir things up in any way?
What I think we’ve seen is a real shift in this country partly because so many of us have come out. And love trumps whatever teachings you might have grown up with. Sure, there are still people who disagree with our own self-affirmation and certainly with our claim that God affirms us as well. But they are very quickly becoming a minority and I think we will look back on this very soon and wonder what all the fuss was about.