Thursday, June 30, 2011

Out and About – June 2011

Above: On Friday, June 3, I had the great honor of meeting theologian and writer William D. Lindsey (left) and his partner Steve. William maintains the excellent blogsite, Bilgrimage.

Bill and Steve were visiting the Twin Cities from their home in Arkansas, and it was a real pleasure and honor to meet them and share a meal with them at
Fabulous Ferns in St. Paul.

Later in the month I met another inspiring figure: Phil Attey of Catholics for Equality. Phil was in the Twin Cities from Washington, DC for the Netroots Nation 2011 conference.

Above and right: My last day as a volunteer deliverer with Trust Inc.'s Meals on Wheels program – Thursday, June 2, 2011. Since February 2007 my friend Ken and I have been delivering meals once a week to folks in South Minneapolis.

The reason June 2 was my last day of being a regular deliverer of meals was because I started work as a site coordinator with Trust Meals on Wheels on Monday, June 6!

It's a great part-time job – one that involves meaningful work and wonderful colleagues! And as one friend remarked: "Sounds like ideal work for you with the flexibility to continue your Gospel mischief!" Indeed!

Above: My friends Alicia and James' wedding – Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Above: The lovely couple!

Left: The parents of the bride, my dear friends (and neighbors) Noelle and John.

Above: Friends Liana and Curtis. Liana is Alicia's sister and not only served as one of the bridesmaids but as the main wedding planner! And what a fantastic job she did – in both roles!

Right: My good friend Phil. It was through Phil that I was introduced to his wonderful family – including parents John and Noelle, sisters Liana and Alicia, and canine friends Quinn and Eddie!.

Above (from left): Jeff, Nathanial, Curtis, Phil and Brittany – Saturday, June 11, 2011.

Alicia and James' wedding was the second beautiful wedding I attended this year. For the first, click here.

Above: Standing at left with (from left) attorney Jeff Anderson, journalist and author Jason Berry, psychologist and Walk -In Counseling Center executive director Gary Schoener, and CPCSM co-founder and president David McCaffrey – Thursday, June 16, 2011.

Berry, well-known for his meticulous reporting on sexual abuse by Catholic priests, was visiting St. Paul as part of his national book tour for Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church.

Writes critic Thomas Powers:

Money dominates the third of Jason Berry’s important books about the Catholic Church. Render Unto Rome probes deeply into the culture of the church. To painful questions about money and sex, Berry finds, the response of the church is always the same – secrecy and silence.

Writing about Render Unto Rome for the Toledo Blade, David Yonke notes that:

Mr. Berry spent 2½ years following the money trail in the Roman Catholic Church, which with 1.2 billion members, is the largest organization in the world.

The financial story includes donations made (or withheld) by average Catholics in the pews, sales of multimillion-dollar properties, and settlements paid to victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Throughout his detailed research — the book contains nearly 40 pages of footnotes — Mr. Berry finds much of the church’s money unaccounted for.

He points out, for example, that Peter’s Pence, a global collection taken every June for the Pope’s use in helping people in dire need, raised $82.5 million in 2009, but the Vatican reported allocations of $8.65 million, only 10.5 percent of the total.

Looming over the church’s financial picture is the monetary impact of the clerical sexual abuse scandal.

In Portland, Ore., the diocese filed for federal bankruptcy protection in July, 2004, after a spate of lawsuits was filed alleging sexual abuse by priests, shortly after the diocese reached a $53 million settlement for 100 abuse claims, Mr. Berry writes.

At the same time that many U.S. dioceses faced increasing budget pressures, some — notably Boston and Cleveland — started closing parishes and selling valuable properties.

The debts from legal settlements, as well as from mismanagement, embezzlement, and declining revenue, are not directly linked to the sale of church property but are certainly “major factors,” Mr. Berry said in an interview with The Blade.

He called Cleveland’s closing of parishes, overseen by Bishop Richard Lennon, an “outrage” and “another sign of how downsizing, selling property, and the like become a mere instrument of diocesan finances.”

Above: On the evening of Wednesday, June 22, I was part of Hennepin County Medical Centers' panel discussion on "Health Care, Religion and GLBT Issues." Also on the panel was my friend Barbara Satin (second from right).

Barbara is a highly respected transgender activist who is very much involved with both the local and national LGBT communities. Along with serving on numerous local LGBT boards, she is a founder of GLBT Generations, a group that works to educate people about the needs of LGBT persons as they grow old. Nationally, Barbara serves on the Executive Council of the United Church of Christ, the first transgender woman to have a national leadership role in that denomination. She is also an adviser to the Civil Marriage Collaborative.

Left: My young friend Jonatan made his First Communion at Spirit of St. Stephen's Catholic Community on Sunday, June 26, 2011.

For an excerpt from the homily delivered that day, click

With Jonatan and his brother.

Above: A Catholic presence at Gay Pride – June 25-26, 2011.

For more images and commentary, click here.

Above and below: On the afternoon of Wednesday, June 29, my friends Brian, John, and Bob and I enjoyed a visit to the Benedictine St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN. It was delightful afternoon, of which I'll share more images soon.

Above: A beautiful bloom on the first day of summer, June 21, 2011. Thankfully, the day wasn't as hot as this one!

Images: Michael J. Bayly.

A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride

I spent a good part of last weekend staffing the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN booth at the Twin Cities' Gay Pride Festival in Minneapolis' Loring Park.

In the picture above, I'm at right with my friends (from left) Rick, David and Paul.

The festive mood of Pride this year was definitely heightened by the recent events in New York, a fact not lost on our local newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Wrote Bob Von Sterberg in the June 25 issue of the paper:

The massive community festival that started out a generation ago as a gay rights protest returned to its roots Saturday, with new political purpose.

The 29th annual Pride Festival once again filled Loring Park just south of downtown Minneapolis to overflowing for the day. But new energy was in evidence – in support of Friday night's vote to allow gay marriage in New York and in opposition to a constitutional referendum that would bar marriage rights for gays in Minnesota.

"We're going to be the first state to defeat a marriage amendment – we're representatives of the larger Minnesota family," the crowd was told by Scott Dibble, the openly gay DFL state senator who represents the Loring Park neighborhood.

The ballot battle over the state constitutional amendment that would decree that marriage in Minnesota is solely between a man and a woman is expected to continue from now all the way to the 2012 elections.

Above: Along with offering information about Catholics for Marriage Equality MN, the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPSCM), Dignity Twin Cities and the Catholic Coalition for Church Reform's upcoming 2011 Synod of the Baptized, those of us staffing "the Catholic booth" at Pride invited attendees of the festival to sign our Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage. This ongoing initiative is our way of helping defeat next November's anti-marriage equality ballot measure. The vast majority of folks who stopped by our booth expressed gratitude and support for us, and we gathered close to 400 signatures over the two days of Pride. (You can read and sign the Statement online, here!)

Above: These two Catholic high school students were as thrilled as could be to find our booth!

We attracted quite a number young people over the weekend – all of them happy and excited to find a Catholic presence at Pride. They were particularly interested in signing our Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage, and pleased to learn about past initiatives of CPCSM, such as the 2007 book I edited, Creating Safe Environments for LGBT Students: A Catholic Schools Perspective, and the DVD of Daniel Maguire's October 2010 Minneapolis talk, "Why You Can Be Catholic and Support Gay Marriage."

One young women's comment, which I overheard as she was leaving with her friends, really made my day: "That was my favorite booth so far"!

Above: My friends Paul, Mary Lynn and Paula. This photo was taken shortly after all three had participated in Sunday's Pride Parade Hen Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. They had carried the banner pictured behind them and were part of the Minnesotans United for All Families contingent of the parade.

Above: With Pete Boisclair of Minnesotans United for All Families.

Pete's holding the form I had just completed and signed making Catholics for Marriage Equality MN an official member of Minnesotans United for All Families!

For more about this coalition aimed at defeating Minnesota's November 2012 anti-marriage equality ballot measure, click

Above: Friends Kathleen Olsen (center) and Marie and John Braun.

Right: With my dear friend Joan.

Above: Friends Javen Swanson and Oby Ballinger.

Javen had the following letter-to-the-editor published in the June 8 issue of The Lake Country Echo and Pine River Journal.

Placing a ban on same-sex marriage in our state's constitution would be bad for families and wrong for Minnesota. The desire of any two people to enter into marriage is something to celebrate, not something to condemn.

I am a gay man who grew up in Pine River. My husband Oby is a United Church of Christ pastor, and I am preparing for ordination in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We met as students at Yale Divinity School in Connecticut and discovered we have much in common. Both of us grew up in rural Minnesota, attended church-affiliated colleges in our home state, and sensed a call to ministry.

On May 22, 2009, we were married in the Divinity School chapel. Surrounded by friends and family, in the presence of God, we made sacred vows to love and honor one another in sickness and in health, when times are good and when things get tough. We made a public promise of responsibility for each other and asked our loved ones to support us and hold us accountable.

We married for the same reasons heterosexual couples marry, and we want what any married couple wants: The opportunity to live into the promises we have made, and the legal rights and protections that will allow our family to flourish. We may look different from other couples, but we share similar values. We believe in the importance of family and serving our community. We worry about making ends meet and finding time for one another. We dream of one day raising children, and we hope to grow old together.

Marriage is about love and commitment, faithfulness and accountability. We hope Minnesota will one day take our relationship as seriously as we do.

Above: With Donald McFarland, project manager for Minnesotans United for All Families.

Above and below: More images of Twin Cities Pride 2011, accompanied by excerpts from Bob Von Sterberg's June 25 Star Tribune article, "New York Energizes Pride '11."

. . . The Pride Festival, which has its roots in the earliest years of the gay rights movement, has become a mainstream event over the years, drawing corporate sponsors and sometimes taking on the feel of a county fair.

This year's event carried a renewed sense of urgency, with the decision late Friday by the New York state Senate to legalize same-sex marriage, doubling the number of Americans who can marry their partners regardless of gender, electrifying the rain-spattered crowd.

"We saw what happened in New York last night, so let's celebrate that," [Senator Scott] Dibble said.

Gearing Up for the Fight

Jeremy Hanson, a senior aide to Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, went further. "We need a little more love for New York," he said. "I love New York!"

Referring to a recent survey on the nation's gay population by the Advocate, a gay/lesbian-oriented magazine, Hanson added: "This is the gayest city of the USA! This is the most lesbian city in the USA!"

As for the marriage battle, Hanson said, "Minnesotans are going to be talking about us. The opposition has never had to talk about the reality of our families ... This state will never be the same."

One way the state's not the same: Gov. Mark Dayton plans to take part today in the annual Pride Parade along Hennepin Avenue, the first Minnesota governor to do so. He also has officially declared June as Pride Month in Minnesota.

. . . Unlike previous Pride Festivals, on Saturday, opponents of gay rights were virtually invisible. [For an image of last year's opponents, click here.] But politics pervaded several of the tented booths that ringed the park.

. . . The gaping political divide that Minnesotans will grapple with over the next 16 months was symbolically bookended Saturday at the two churches that border Loring Park. On the south side, St. Mark's Cathedral, a parish of the Episcopal Church that has partly embraced same-sex marriages, flew a phalanx of rainbow banners commemorating the festival. On the north side, the bells merely tolled every 15 minutes at the Basilica of St. Mary, a cornerstone of a Catholic archdiocese, which has campaigned aggressively against the practice. [Ironically, the Basilica of St. Mary is generally regarded by many Twin Cities Catholics as "gay-friendly"!]

In the middle, in front of a row of rainbow banners, stood Donna Bailey and Tamra Doble. They'd driven from the home they've shared for more than a year in Albertville to have their relationship blessed in a civil commitment ceremony by the Rev. Greg Renstrom.

Before officiating, he explained, "it's important to show God's grace, which means to love everybody -- period. We need to extend God's blessings to all people."

Before Bailey and Doble exchanged rings, Renstrom spoke of their "relationship to be honored and blessed" and asked them, "Will you build your life together?"

Yes, they answered.

Afterward, wiping away tears, Doble explained, "It's our commitment to each other. For now, it's the closest thing we can get to being married."

– Bob Von Sterberg
"New York Energizes Pride '11"
Star Tribune
June 25, 2011

Above: The "wild reeds" behind our Catholics for Marriage Equality MN booth! How appropriate!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride (2010)
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride (2009)
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride (2008)
Inclusive Catholics Celebrate Gay Pride (2007)
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2011

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Quote of the Day

. . . No one’s rights are being trampled if same-sex marriage is legalized. NO ONE’S.

If your religious beliefs condemn marriage between two people of the same gender, then you shouldn’t marry people of the same gender. While you have the freedom to limit your own behavior in matters of sexuality, diet or religious observance, you don’t have any power to limit the rights of other people, particularly those in other religions or with no religion.

If someone else is allowed to marry their same-sex partner, the anti-gay marriage advocate is affected in no way, oppressed in no way, their right to hold those beliefs is violated in no way.

Just as orthodox Jews aren’t victims of oppression when other people are allowed to legally watch television and use electric appliances on Saturday. Just as Muslims aren’t victims of oppression when other people are allowed to legally purchase alcohol. Just as Hindus aren’t victims of oppression when other people are legally allowed to eat beef.

You are expecting a level of cultural dominance that is completely unreasonable. You are expecting the right to to demand that your religious practices be taken as civil law and that the prohibitions of (I assume) Christianity be enforced on everybody — including non-Christians and Christians of denominations that accept equality in gay rights.

Our refusal to be dominated is not persecution of Christians. Our demand that the government be neutral and secular on matters of religious belief is not the persecution of Christians. If a man is beating us with a club, slapping that club out of his hand is not “running roughshod over his beliefs” . . .

Recommended Off-site Links:
Gay Marriage and Framing the Church's Message – Max Lindenman (, June 27, 2011).
Marriage Equality in New York: A Moral Triumph – Michele Somerville (The Huffington Post, June 29, 2011).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Parvez Sharma on Islam and Homosexuality

". . . a dichotomous and simultaneous celebration of homosexuality
and invisibility of the sexual life."

The Wild Reed’s 2011 Gay Pride/Queer Appreciation series continues with an excerpt from a highly informative article by Muslim gay writer and filmmaker Parvez Sharman (right) on Islam and homosexuality. This article was first published in the July/August 2010 issue of Tikkun. (NOTE: To start at the beginning of this series, click here.)

In 2009, Sharman’s A Jihad for Love, the world’s first film on the co-existence of Islam and homosexuality, won the prestigious GLAAD media award for Outstanding Documentary. In making A Jihad for Love, Sharma spent five-and-a-half years documenting the lives of gay and lesbian Muslims in twelve countries. His subjects include a gay imam in South Africa, an Egyptian who fled to France after his imprisonment and torture, and a lesbian couple in Turkey.


. . . In my lifetime, I do not see Islam coming down with a uniform edict saying that homosexuality is permissible. But then again, a ruling of such a nature that would be acceptable to all Roman Catholics cannot be imagined as coming down from the Vatican either.

The case of Islam becomes further problematized because there s no single kind of Muslim. More than a billion Muslims inhabit this planet, and they inhabit geographic, linguistic, and cultural spaces that are enormously different. In fact, nothing in the religion can fall into the problematic monolith discussed most often in the media in Western societies. Sunni Islam in itself, being the religion of the majority, has four major schools of thought: the Hanafi, the Hanbali, the Maliki, and the Sha'afi. They have never quite agreed on what to do with "the homosexual." The Shias in Iran thrive on a culture of disagreement that permeates all of the corridors of learning, which always lead up to the holy city of Qom.

. . . As a homosexual . . . I realize profoundly that Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—all the religions of the book—will not be able to reconcile their theologies with their homosexuals in our lifetimes.

. . . The theological debate that many within Islam have been engaged in for centuries often omits consideration of the impact religious rulings have on believers' lives. Theology and the rules that bind it often ignore the human experience and refer to homosexuality as an object, a behavior, and a sin, without recognizing that sexual preference can be a major constituent of the religious self. [These words of Sharman's just as readily describe the situation within Roman Catholicism!]

For this reason, in A Jihad for Love, my approach was, rather than engaging in theological bickering, to show the very human dilemmas faced by these remarkable Muslims. [This is similar to the approach local Catholics are taking in the struggle for marriage equality in Minnesota. See, for example, here.] Only in telling their stories are we able to get past the theological damnation that they suffer. We, and indeed our religious leaders in any of the monotheistic religions, need to realize that words in our holy books can and often do leap off the page and have a very real effect on people's lives.

I know, as a Muslim, that I am not supposed to "mess with the Qur'an." But as a believer and a defender of my faith, I also feel that ideally the ultimate relationship lies between the individual and his or her God. But clearly we do not and have not lived in an ideal world.

. . . Pride marches or the re-creation of the gay ghettos of the West will never be the solution in Tehran or in Islamabad.

I have witnessed the endless debates that diasporic Muslims engage in, within the cool air-conditioned corridors of Western academia, employing the languages of emancipation developed mostly in the West. In Cairo, in Delhi, or in Jakarta, the realities of life—beyond the taps that run dry or the power outages that punctuate days and nights—are completely different.

The limited and limiting languages of Western labels and constructs are just not an option. Being a recent transplant into the West myself, I have marveled at the need for constant labels and self-identification that many minorities in majority Caucasian societies have felt. I have seen just how profoundly the lines between the public and the private have been blurred in many of these nations and how little of that is still permissible "back home." So from "person of color" (a disingenuous term, in my humble opinion) to L and G and B and T and Intersex and Queer and Two Spirit, I have realized that these categorizations perhaps serve their constituents in the West better than they ever would in the problematically labeled "third world."

If anything, even a cursory look at Islam's many histories reveals a dichotomous and simultaneous celebration of homosexuality and invisibility of the sexual life. [This brings to mind author Mark D. Jordan's observation in his 2002 book, The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism, that Roman Catholicism is "officially homophobic" yet at the same time "intensely homoerotic."]

Much of that need for invisibility remains couched in the sanctity of the institution of heterosexual marriage and the centrality of the family unit. So for example, I can say with confidence that the majority of Muslims with same-sex desire in Muslim societies would choose to live within heterosexual marriages.

For that reason the solutions—if indeed there is a need for any—within "Islamic" cultures will need to come from the Muslims who inhabit them.

To read Sharma’s article “Islam and Homosexuality” in its entirety, click here.

Following is a May 20, 2008 Democracy Now! interview with Parvez Sharman about his film A Jihad for Love.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Coming Out in Africa and the Middle East
To Be Gay in Iraq
In Afghanistan, a "Widespread, Culturally-Sanctioned Form of Male Rape"
The Blood-Soaked Thread
In the Garden of Spirituality – Karen Armstrong
In the Garden of Spirituality – Zainab Salbi

For The Wild Reed’s Gay Pride 2010 series, see:
Standing Strong
Growing Strong
Jesus and Homosexuality
It Is Not Good To Be Alone
The Bisexual: “Living Consciously and Consistently in the Place Where the Twain Meet”
Spirituality and the Gay Experience
Recovering the Queer Artistic Heritage
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride
Worldwide Gay Pride

For The Wild Reed's Gay Pride 2009 series, see:
A Mother’s Request to President Obama: Full Equality for My Gay Son
Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: Five Years On
It Shouldn’t Matter. Except It Does
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Not Just Another Political Special Interest Group
Can You Hear Me, Yet, My Friend?
A Catholic Presence at Gay Pride
Worldwide Gay Pride

Image: Vincenzo Aiosa.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stay Tuned!

Above: My friends Paula, Paul and Mary Lynn carry the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN banner in yesterday's Twin Cities Gay Pride Parade.

This photo was taken by Renee Rhodman, a friend-of-a Facebook friend! I was staffing the Catholics for Marriage Equality MN booth in Loring Park and so didn't participate in this year's parade. I did, however, take some great photos of the Gay Pride Festival in Loring Park on both Saturday and Sunday. I'll be posting these very soon . . . so stay tuned!

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
In the Struggle for Marriage Equality, MN Catholics are Making a Difference by Changing Hearts and Minds
Catholic Attitudes on Gay and Lesbian Issues: An Overview
A Catholic Statement of Support for Same-Sex Marriage
Tips on Speaking as a Catholic in Support of Marriage Equality

Image: Renee Rhodman.

The Challenge of Eucharist

Yesterday was Corpus Christi Sunday, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

And on this day at the worship service of my faith community, the Spirit of St. Stephen's Catholic Community, two young people, including Jonatan, pictured at right, made their First Communion. It was a very inspiring ritual – full of beauty, meaning and the presence of our loving God.

The homily that day, too, was very inspiring. Following are excerpts.

Relationships and community . . . [are] the difference between just attending Mass and celebrating Eucharist. In this gathering of people [we call Eucharist], Jesus becomes truly present to be consumed, absorbed, made one with each of us. And we, consciously, knowingly, willingly open ourselves to that presence within us and among us . . . and what that means when we leave this gathering.

Eucharist is not just Jesus' body and blood. It is Jesus, as he did at the Last Supper, saying, "This is my body, broken for you; this is my blood poured out for the world. Do this in memory of me. Gather for a meal, for community, for mutual support and encouragement. Then go give your body and shed your blood in the service of others." Gathering for this Eucharistic meal, we are blessed to eat the bread prepared by the hands of one of our community members, the bread consecrated by our community. In the context of this community, we are challenged to be the bread of life, to do for one another what Jesus did, namely to be nourishment for one another's lives and being, to care for one another as for oneself, to be for one another manna in the wilderness.

Father Ron Rohlheiser says that , "The Eucharist invites us to become like the kernels of wheat that make up the bread and the clusters of grapes that make up the wine, broken down and crushed so that we can become part of a communal loaf and single cup.

Occasionally when St. Augustine was giving the Eucharist to a communicant, instead of saying, "The Body of Christ", he would say: "Receive what you are." That puts things correctly. What is supposed to happen at the Eucharist is that we, by sacrificing the things that divide us, should become the body and blood of Christ. More so than the bread and wine, we, the people, are meant to be changed" into the Body and Blood of Christ. That is the real transubstantiation!

. . . Today, as we celebrate First Communion with Jonatan and Noah, as we celebrate Eucharist, let us renew our own commitment to be Eucharistic people, willing to be bread that is blessed, broken and given for each other and for the life of the world.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Celebrating and Embodying Divine Hospitality
"Receive What You Are, the Body of Christ"
Trusting God's Generous Invitation
Take This Bread
Reflections on Corpus Christi Sunday (2009)
"Take, All of You, and Eat": Communion and the Rainbow Sash (Part 1)
"Take, All of You, and Eat": Communion and the Rainbow Sash (Part 2)
"Take, All of You, and Eat": Communion and the Rainbow Sash (Part 3)
My Rainbow Sash Experience
"Homodevotion" to the Body of Christ
Corpus Christ (2007)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Worldwide Gay Pride – 2011

Here at The Wild Reed it's become somewhat of a tradition, at this time of the year, to share images of Gay Pride celebrations from around the world.

I start this year with images from New York, where, as USA Today notes, the celebrations became a "jubilant, energetic celebration of Friday's passage by the state Legislature of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage." Enjoy!

Above: People cheer while standing in front of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village as the annual Gay Pride parade passes, Sunday, June 26, 2011 in New York.

One of the world's oldest and largest gay pride parades became a victory celebration Sunday after New York's historic decision to legalize same-sex marriage. The law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday takes effect in 30 days. (Associated Press/Mark Lennihan)

Above: From left: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, State Senator Tom Duane, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and Cuomo's girlfriend Sandra Lee walk in the annual Heritage of Pride March, one of the world's oldest and largest gay pride parades – Sunday June 26, 2011, in New York. (Associated Press/Diane Bondareff)

Above: Spectators react as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg approach during the Gay Pride Parade, Sunday June 26, 2011 in New York. (Associated Press/Tina Fineberg)

Above: Richard Proust (left) and his partner of thirty years, Donald Corren, march during the Gay Pride Parade in New York – June 26, 2011. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

Above: Alba Maya (left) and Margarita Eiroa, who have been together for over thirty years, hold a sign in support of New York state's recent decision to legalize gay marriage during the Gay Pride Parade in New York – June 26, 2011. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

Above: Christopher Goeken, left, his partner Glenn Magpantay, and their son Malcolm Magpantay, 4, from the Queens borough of New York, smile before the start of New York's Gay Pride Parade – Sunday, June 26, 2011. Goeken and Magpantay have been together for 18 years. (Associated Press/Tina Fineberg)

Above: A reveller attends the Christopher Street Day parade in Berlin, June 25, 2011.

Several thousand people took part in the annual CSD parade in the German capital to demonstrate for the rights of all LGBT people and to commemorate the Stonewall Uprising
in New York City's Christopher Street in June 1969. (Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski)

Above and below: Hot! Hot! Hot! A troupe of fire-breathers performs during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil – Sunday June 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Above: Police protect participants in the Gay Pride march in Zagreb, Croatia – Saturday, June 18, 2011.

The United Nations issued its first condemnation of discrimination against gays, lesbians and transgender people on Friday in a cautiously worded declaration hailed by supporters, including the United States, as a historic moment. (Associated Press)

Above: A couple share a kiss during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil – Sunday June 26, 2011. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

Above: People carry a rainbow flag during the 15th Gay Pride Parade in Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo – June 26, 2011.

More than 3 million people took part in the annual Sao Paulo Gay Pride Parade, making it the world's largest gay pride march, according to Brazilian tourism authorities. (Reuters/Nacho Doce)

Above: Take me to the pilot! Revellers take part in the annual Gay Pride Parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil – Sunday June 26, 2011. (Associated Press/Andre Penner)

Above: Dykes on bikes! A woman holds up rainbow flags from the back of a motorcycle during the 41st annual Gay Pride Parade in San Francisco – Sunday, June 26, 2011. (Associated Press/Jeff Chiu)

Above: Sorry, girls, but those tacky beer cans have just got to go! Transgenders Taita, left, and Yaila pose for a photo during the Gay Pride Parade in Guatemala City, Saturday June 25, 2011. (Associated Press/Rodrigo Abd)

Above: Transgender Melani, center, poses for a portrait during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Guatemala City – Saturday June 25, 2011. (Associated Press/Rodrigo Abd)

Above: No Gay Pride Parade would be complete without a bit of leather! A leather man attends the Christopher Street Day parade in Berlin – June 25, 2011. (Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski)

Above: Somewhere under the rainbow! People take part in the Gay Pride Parade on Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul. (AFP/Mustafa Ozer)

Above: The Peacock King! New York, June 26, 2011. (Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi)

Following are excerpts from an Associated Press article about various Gay Pride events around the world.

Tens of thousands of revelers turned out Saturday for a gay pride parade in Paris, many of them hailing the legalization of gay marriage in New York and demanding that France follow suit.

Marchers, dressed in drag, brassieres or striped sailor outfits, paraded under a sea of rainbow-colored flags and jigged to thumping techno beats on slow-moving truck beds that became moveable dance floors.

Elsewhere in Europe, however, Russian police detained 14 gay rights activists trying to hold an unsanctioned rally in St. Petersburg to demand equal rights for gays — a sign that resistance remains high in many places. An Associated Press photographer saw some unidentified attackers besiege the activists and try to seize their banners before police moved in. One suspected attacker was also detained.

. . . In Germany on Saturday, thousands packed downtown Berlin wearing colorful costumes for the 33rd annual CSD festival calling for acceptance of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals.

"The support of many people from all walks of life send a strong sign against discrimination," said Berlin's gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit. He urged greater acceptance of diversity in the European Union, notably among newer and future EU members in the Balkans and Baltics that can be less tolerant of gays than the old member states.

Gays and lesbians face widespread hostility in some macho-dominated societies of eastern Europe — and opposition to their public events has been fierce, and even violent, at times.

Attempts to hold gay pride rallies almost always end in violence in Russia. Authorities habitually refuse gay rights activists their constitutional right to assemble, particularly in Moscow, on the grounds that other people find it offensive.

"I've seen a lot of things in six years of holding such events in Moscow, but I've never seen such cynicism in St. Petersburg," said Nikolai Alekseyev, Russia's highest profile gay rights activist, who was himself briefly detained Saturday.

The activists in St. Petersburg held their protest beside a monument to city founder Peter the Great, "because Peter the Great founded a city with European values," said Yuri Gavrikov, head of the Equality group.

President Dmitry Medvedev has insisted that Russians share European values today.

In Mexico City, thousands of people marched down Paseo de la Reforma for one of the largest gay pride events in Latin America. Winged angels waving rainbow flags from atop sound trucks filled the leafy boulevard on their way to the Zocalo, the capital's main square.

Hector Anaya, a member of a national group of gay cowboys who sported a cowboy hat, tight jeans and pointy ostrich-skin boots, said things have changed for the better for Mexican homosexuals the past 15 years.

"We used to not be able to go out together, to hold hands. Now, the more we express ourselves, the more people accept us," Anaya said.

Opening image: A man waves a rainbow flag during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Cali, Columbia – June 26, 2011. (Reuters/Jaime Saldarriaga)

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2010
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2009
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2008
Worldwide Gay Pride – 2007
Dan Furmansky: Why We Have Pride
Gay Pride as a Christian Event
Gay Pride: A Celebration of True Humility
The Gay World Cup
A Simple Yet Radical Act