Dear Fellow Episcopalians,
Yesterday we learned that Metro Trans Umbrella Group (MTUG) was stepping down from their role as grand marshal for the 2019 St. Louis Pride Parade, in response to the decision to allow police to march armed and in uniform. As the priests in charge of the congregations organizing this year’s Episcopal presence at Pride, we met the news with sadness and concern. Too often the voices of our Trans siblings are ignored or silenced, even within the LGBTQ+ community. MTUG’s decision made us question whether we could still ethically participate in Pride.
After discussion with MTUG leaders, we have decided the following:
- We will continue to co-host the 10:00am Interfaith Service at the Pride Main Stage. It is important that affirming people of faith show up wherever the LGBTQ+ community gathers. It is important that we stand together for love and make room for religious expression that embraces LGBTQ+ folks. The service has always been independent from the parade.
- As clergy members, we will join Friday in MTUG’s “Trans and Gender Free Pride March,” starting at 5:30pm at the corner of Arsenal and Oregon. We will march together to Benton Park to hear speakers from the Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) community. We invite our congregations and communities to join in this rally organized by Trans and GNC people and centered around Trans and GNC voices of color.
- We will still participate in the Pride Parade, but we will endeavor to carry the spirit of the Friday march with us. We will not be entering a “float” or playing loud music, as in years past. We will walk, carrying banners and signs. Our message in the parade is two-fold. We will say clearly to the thousands who are gathered: “God loves the LGBTQ+ Community.” We will also say: “We stand with MTUG and our Trans Siblings.”
Between the Interfaith Service and the Pride Parade, all are invited to join us for lunch at Christ Church Cathedral. As we wait for the parade to step off, we will hold a discussion about continuing the work for justice and equity with LGBTQ+ people in and beyond our church communities.
Losing MTUG as a leader for this year’s Pride Parade is a real disappointment. As people of faith, we know we need to do a better job centering the voices and leadership of trans and gender-expansive folks. We are sorry not to be led on Sunday by MTUG, but we hope in the coming years to follow the organization’s lead as we work to make St. Louis a more embracing place.
The Very Rev. Kathie Adams-Shepherd
Dean, Christ Church Cathedral
The Rev. Mike Angell
Rector, The Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion
The Rev. Beth Scriven
Chaplain, Rockwell House Episcopal Campus Ministry