Congregations march for Coming Out Day
Members of a dozen local congregations marked National Coming Out Day on Sunday with speeches and songs on the steps of Kofman Auditorium.
The event, which drew about 150 people, was an effort to show unity and support from the Island’s faith community in the face of legal and political challenges to anti-gay bullying lessons that are to be taught at Alameda’s public elementary schools this year.
“In reality, we want to work against discrimination of all kinds of people,” the Rev. Laura Rose of First Congregational Church told the crowd.
Rose said the hardest part of last spring’s debates over the curriculum, which has been dubbed Lesson 9, was the way it pitted people of different races and religions against each other.
“Today, we come together as many races, many religions,” she said. “Celebrate that.”
A multicultural group of speakers who included the Rev. Hubert Ivery of Twin Towers United Methodist Church, the Rev. Ouida Cooper Rodriguez of the Alameda Spiritual Living Center, the Rev. Michael Yoshii of Buena Vista United Methodist Church, Jessica Woo of the Buddhist Temple of Alameda and the Rabbi Allen Bennett of Temple Israel, sought to emphasize how the Bible supports gays.
“There has to be a spirituality large enough to encompass all of our differences,” the Rev. Ivery said.
The Rev. Ivery’s wife, Donna Fado Ivery, created a stained glass piece called “Table of Tears” that laid out ways the Bible has been used to justify the oppression of different people.
Speakers also noted President Barack Obama’s speech Saturday at a Human Rights Campaign dinner, where he reportedly reiterated his pledge to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that bans gays from serving openly in the military.
The only incident to mar Sunday’s event was the appearance of a black PT Cruiser, whose passenger flashed a handwritten sign that said “HOMOSEXUALITY IS CAUSED BY CHILD ABUSE.” The driver, who circled several times, appeared to be shooed off by participants in the event.
Participants in the event included School Board Trustees Tracy Jensen and Nielsen Tam, who are both facing the threat of a recall for their yes votes on Lesson 9 back in May. Interim Assistant Superintendent Ruben Zepeda, who is working to create a new curriculum for next year that could have specific lessons intended to protect other groups.
In addition to the threatened recall, a group of parents has sued the school district for the right to opt their children out of the lessons. A hearing on that case is scheduled for October 26.