Worker’s World Interview of Sylvia Rivera: ‘I’m glad I was in the Stonewall riot’

June 12, 2015 Comments Off on Worker’s World Interview of Sylvia Rivera: ‘I’m glad I was in the Stonewall riot’


I left home at age 10 in 1961. I hustled on 42nd Street. The early 60s was not a good time for drag queens, effeminate boys or boys that wore makeup like we did.

Back then we were beat up by the police, by everybody. I didn’t really come out as a drag queen until the late 60s.

When drag queens were arrested, what degradation there was. I remember the first time I got arrested, I wasn’t even in full drag. I was walking down the street and the cops just snatched me.

We always felt that the police were the real enemy. We expected nothing better than to be treated like we were animals-and we were.

We were stuck in a bullpen like a bunch of freaks. We were disrespected. A lot of us were beaten up and raped.

When I ended up going to jail, to do 90 days, they tried to rape me. I very nicely bit the shit out of a man.

I’ve been through it all.

In 1969, the night of the Stonewall riot, was a very hot, muggy night. We were in the Stonewall [bar] and the lights came on. We all stopped dancing. The police came in.

They had gotten their payoff earlier in the week. But Inspector Pine came in-him and his morals squad-to spend more of the government’s money.

We were led out of the bar and they cattled us all up against the police vans. The cops pushed us up against the grates and the fences. People started throwing pennies, nickels, and quarters at the cops.

And then the bottles started. And then we finally had the morals squad barricaded in the Stonewall building, because they were actually afraid of us at that time. They didn’t know we were going to react that way…

Read the whole interview here.

Copyright: Workers World Service. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY,NY 10011; via e-mail: For subscription info send message Web:


Gay and Christian and Parenting

June 11, 2015 Comments Off on Gay and Christian and Parenting

Michael Cudney, his husband Keith Kelly, and their son Chris Kelly in one of their first parades.

Michael Cudney, his husband Keith Kelly, and their son Chris Kelly in one of their first parades.

Michael Cudney

I’ve been so fortunate. And I’m so grateful.  As a gay man now entering his 7th decade [well, just entered], I’ve experienced so much, traveled around the world and have the pleasure of so many friends, among whom are many St. Luke’s parishioners.  But nothing can beat the joy of having and raising a child.  On many Sundays I see same-gender couples in the pews with a new-born or young child and I think “They are so lucky. So dedicated. So loving.”  I know. I’ve been a parent for 22 years.

Gay and lesbian parents have many advantages. One is that we don’t become parents by accident.  It’s often a long and difficult journey, and even more so for some who may live in certain areas of the US.  There are long conversations, lots of research, seeking out others in the LGBT community who have children. And here in New York, we’re privileged to be in a city and state that has long been supportive of differently-constituted families from the norm.  And as members of the Episcopal Church, we also have a faith community that makes sure we feel welcome in the Body of Christ.  In fact, in my own case, having a child was what brought me back to church!

It was in 1993 that my husband Keith and I brought home our then week-old son Christopher. We were fortunate to find an adoption agency – in Texas, of all places – that was willing to work with single men [there was no marriage equality then] looking to be parents.

We knew before Chris even arrived that we wanted him to have an experience of a church, as both Keith and I had growing up.  For myself especially it was exciting, as I had grown up very active in my home-town Roman Catholic parish, and had actually majored in theology in college with an eye to entering seminary after.  But as with many things, I met Keith at the time, and began to grow further and further away from the RC church, in large part because of its anti-LGBT positions.  There were a few decades where we would go to church pretty much only at Christmas, and it was one Christmas that we went to the tiny Episcopal Church in our neighborhood.  It was nice, but at the time there was nothing to draw us back except the holiday services.

But we went anyway once we had Chris at home, not knowing what kind of welcome we’d receive.  Being a very small parish – maybe 15-20 on an average Sunday – anyone new walking through the doors was immediately scrutinized.  However, we were made to feel immediately welcome and part of the parish family.  There was absolutely no issue when we asked about having Chris baptized.  The only question the vicar asked us was ‘When?’

Gay men raising children in New York City, even over twenty years ago, is undoubtedly different than raising a child in other, less inclusive and diverse part of the country.  The same can be said of our experience with a church family.  Our church became a part of our lives. There were a few children around Chris’s age, and they quickly became friends.  Even now, Chris has a close friend from those years. Sunday school and church activities were a part of the journey.  And the parish sponsored a children’s theatre program into which Chris and family immediately dived in.

Things of course do change.  It’s not at all uncommon for a teenager to move away from church-going practices as they seek and learn and grow.  My family is no different in this regard.  I’m the sole ‘full-time’ church-goer these days. And that’s fine. But what I can say with full assurance, is that in both the church families that have been a part of our lives over the last two decades, there has never been a single instance where our sexualities or family structure was ever an issue.  For this we are grateful for the work of the Episcopal Church in including all – families and single persons, children and the elderly, straight and gay, male and female and those who choose another way of expressing gender.  At the same time I always try to remember that there are many families like mine, living in places where it’s difficult, even painful, to raise children. For these we must continue to pray and work for justice and inclusion that my family has been fortunate to experience.

What Is Our Prophetic Voice?

June 5, 2015 Comments Off on What Is Our Prophetic Voice?

Pride 2015 logoSome of you may be unaware that St. Luke’s has an oral history book called LIVES AT ST. LUKE’S: An Oral History BookIn the book’s appendix, there is an interesting piece by former rector Rev. Ledlie Laughlin written in 1979:

“God in his providence has made us a neighborhood church in a neighborhood that includes the gay center of the East coast if not of the United States. We could try to ignore that part of our neighborhood. The Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches on Christopher Street are doing that. They are dying or nearly dead. Maybe we could survive, but we would be a moral and religious cripple. Besides, the challenge is an exciting one, and if we were to die in meeting it, our death might have some of the marks of the way of Christ.”

What are our new challenges today and what might our prophetic voices be? Where do we need to go so that we have the marks of the way of Christ?

The full article and many more delightful stories are in LIVES  AT ST. LUKE’s, available for purchase for only $15.00 here:livesatstlukes_100-medium

– Nicole Hanley

Icons and the body of Christ

June 3, 2015 Comments Off on Icons and the body of Christ

Chris Phillips brought this quote of St. Teresa of Avila: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”

How does it feel to look at one’s body in a mirror and identify the image with the corporeal presence of God? Given the American infatuation with physical beauty that most of us have internalized to some degree, it can be a stretch.

The Episcopal Café has a post on the art of Gabriel Garcia Roman, a Mexican-American photographic artist who represents people all across gender, race, and age spectrums as saints with halos. His work makes me ponder the richness of Christ’s body in the world. Read the interview, and imagine yourself as an icon with golden halo.

How does that make you feel? What does it bring to mind? Comment, please.

Contemplating Pride Month at St. Luke’s

June 1, 2015 Comments Off on Contemplating Pride Month at St. Luke’s

Pride 2015 logoFor the first time since the St. Luke’s Blog came into existence, it is being fired up for the month of June. As a parish, we have celebrated LGBT Pride Month in many ways over time, and this seems a good point to encourage St. Lukers to contribute written and verbal reflections on our customs and history.

We are hoping to have three posts a week–Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in the month.  The pattern we are hoping for (but not rigidly clutching) will be:

Monday: A reflection engaging a piece of Scripture, perhaps.

Wednesday: A look around us now. What are we doing and how are we living together now? Some possible themes may be:

  • Raising children in an LGBTQ-affirming church
  • Aging as an out LGBTQ person
  • Navigating same-sex relationships when one partner is a non-believer

Friday: A look back at historical people who have helped make St. Luke’s the LGBT-affirming place it is today.
Comments are open, and welcome!

Mary and Nicole

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