Beginning with the efforts of the Council on Religion and the Homosexual through the present, Glide church as actively worked to change, stretch and work around the rules that discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Glide’s historical connections to the Methodist church, meant that many of its clergy’s credentialing was subject to the rules and discipline of the Methodist church. Some, like Rev. Lloyd Wake, stretch the rules as far as they would bend by inventing new terms to describe the LGBTQ weddings. On other occasions, Glide’s sanctuary was used as a rental, with celebrants or clergy from secular spaces or more open credentialing bodies. When Methodist clergy were disciplined, Glide actively created opportunities for them.
While the Methodist church continues to debate, negotiate and be divided about LGBTQ issues, Glide’s separation from the Methodist denomination allows Glide Church to step up its unconditional and unapologetic welcome of LGBTQ people, families and love. The materials below show some of the ways Glide Church stretched, defied and actively advocated for marriage equality.
Trigger warning: Please note that the dated and homophobic language in some of the newspaper articles on this page may trigger some individuals. They are included here to show the discrimination present in the world and how it contrasted with the unconditional love at Glide Church.
1971 – Gay Weddings
Courtesy of the Glide Archive.
From the back of the church, you could not tell that the bride, a figure of beauty swathed in a tower of white chiffon, was a man.
But it didn’t really matter.
“This is what we want for each other,” said Terry Black, the tuxedoed groom, minutes before the ceremony. He lit a cigarette and smiled. “I’ve never been happier in my life.”
Terry is 23. At 17, he married a Pasadena girl. Soon afterward he joined the Marine Corps. He has a 4-year-old daughter.
“It didn’t work out. I was too young. I turned to the gay life about a year ago.” That was when he met Pat Montclaire, a 30-year-old female impersonator at the 181 Club, 181 Eddy street.
“I love Pat, it’s that simple. I think we can be as happy as any straight couple. To me she is a girl. She treats me like a husband.”
Their relationship bears little difference from any other couple. Pat plays the role of the wife. She cooks (“Man, can she cook! Gourmet foods all the time!”), does the housework and handles the finances.
Their new checks will read “Mr. and Mrs. Terry Black.”
“Next year they intend to file a joint income tax return — uncertain how it will be received. Terry works as a bartender.
“I’m going to open my own bar next year,” he said. “Then Pat can retire. She wants to open a boutique.” Terry’s best man, Mike, arrived to escort the groom to the altar. Mike, like the 14 ushers in the wedding party, is also gay. He does not reveal his last name because he works for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Glide Memorial Church had been rented for the wedding.
The ceremony was elaborate. Nineteen bridesmaids —all men—took their places to the left of the altar. All were attired in homemade gowns of yellow, pink and blue.
The bride’s sisters, Marie, 10, and Debbie, 9, were flower girls. They knew the bride was their brother.
The Rev. Howard Wells of the Metropolitan Community Church faced the couple and performed his 20th gay “wedding ceremony.”
There is no marriage license. The marriage is not recognized as legal in California. But that is not important to Terry and Pat. For them it is an expression of love for each other. They are unquestionably sincere in their feelings. That, to them, is what is important.
The couple exchanged vows. They placed rings on each other’s finger. They turned and faced each other. They kissed.
The bride wept.
Resounding applause filled the church as the newlyweds walked back up the aisle and into the street. They led the congregation to a reception at the 181 Club a block away and greeted all their guests at the door.
A Hawaiian honeymoon is planned but “not for awhile.” “The wedding set me back 3500 bucks,” said Terry. “I’m just a lousy bartender.”
“We’re just people,” said Bill Kruse, 31, one of the ushers. “We’re motivated by the same things everyone else is, whether it be home and hearth or a career in show business.”
He sipped his drink and set it down. “You can’t live alone,” he said. “Basically, we just want to be happy. You can accept it or reject it, it’s your choice.”
1996 – Freedom to Marry Task Force of Northern California
Courtesy of the Glide Archive
2004 – Palm Sunday Celebration of Weddings
2004 – Glide Hosts Rally for AB19 the Marriage License Non-Discrimination Act
2008 Interfaith Vote No on Prop 8 Rally at Glide Church
2013 Supreme Court to Hear Case About Same Sex Marriages
2014 City Hall Weddings
2016 An Act of Love Film Screening
GLIDE is proud to continue its thought-leaders’ series with a screening of An Act of Love, followed by a talk with Rev. Frank Schaefer, Filmmakers Scott Sheppard and Kate Logan and GLIDE Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Karen Oliveto on Tuesday, March 22 in GLIDE’s Sanctuary. While the U.S. now has marriage equality, the United Methodist Church—the country’s second-largest protestant denomination—is still sharply divided over the issue. In May 2016, the Church will come together at its General Conference to decide whether to allow pastors to perform same-sex marriages. As the conference approaches, An Act of Love showcases the human side of this debate through the story of Rev. Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked after officiating at his son’s same-sex marriage ceremony. Nearly six years after marrying his son, Lebanon County minister Rev. Schaefer was put on trial by the United Methodist Church. At the end of the trial, the Church gave Rev. Schaefer a choice: promise to never perform a same-sex wedding again, or turn in his credentials as a minister. Rev. Schafer refused to make the promise, and was subsequently defrocked. “I am hopeful that this film will change hearts and minds in the marriage equality issue that is, sadly, still fiercely debated within the religious community,” said Rev. Schaefer. “GLIDE is honored to host Rev. Schaefer, as we learn of his story through the film An Act of Love,” said Rev. Oliveto. “Frank did what any loving clergy parent would do for a child: officiate at their wedding. Yet this loving act came with a tremendous cost. We are grateful for the way Frank has used this moment to challenge and confront the Church’s unjust and unloving policies towards its LGBTQ members.”
If this exhibit has inspired you to learn more about Glide Pride, you can connect here.