The Rev. Cecil Williams’ is known for his grief support for individuals and communities throughout San Francisco. This often included participating in a celebrations of life (funerals), public memorials and other opportunities for communal grief. Some of the historic moments Cecil provided grief support are highlighted below.
Trigger warning – photos in this section of the exhibit display hate speech. The intent of sharing the photos is to educate individuals about some of the vile discrimination that was being amplified by other faith groups. The historical context may be helpful for some, it may trigger others.
1983 – The Assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk
Courtesy of the Glide Archive
1994 – Funeral of Randy Shilts
Randy Shilts was a best-selling author and is thought to be the first openly gay reporter of a mainstream newspaper to write about the gay community. Randy, who was sometimes a controversial figure in the LGBTQ community, is remembered for his books The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk and And the Band Played On: Politics People and the AIDS Epidemic. After his death from AIDS, Randy’s funeral was held at Glide on February 22, 1994.
The memorial service of Randy Shilts is from the Glide Archive. You can watch the full video here on YouTube.
Memorial bulletins courtesy of the UC San Francisco, Library, Special Collections – Dritz (Selma) Papers – View a larger version of the memorial bulletin here.
Randy Shilts’ funeral was protested by the Westboro Baptist Church, a group known for repugnant signage and protesting the funerals of individuals who died of HIV/AIDS. The photos below, from the Glide Archive, show some of the photos of the protesters and of the Rev. Cecil Williams addressing the crowd.
2001 – September 11th Memorials
Cecil participated in vigils and memorials around San Francisco, including an event where thousands gathered Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Cecil also joined Mayor Willie Brown and visited and connected with members of the Muslim community. It was reported that Cecil told the worshipers that it was time to “respect each other, get better information about each other, reach out to each other and build bridges to each other.” At Glide, Cecil worked to ensure that the community was united in support of Muslim neighbors and against growing racism and racial profiling.
The video above if Cecil’s sermon, is from the September 30, 2001 Celebration. You can watch the full service in our YouTube video archive here.
The Rev. Cecil Williams taught us to use our voice to radically welcome others. We continue to proclaim that radical welcome in all that we do! We celebrate the Rev. Cecil’s birthday throughout the month of September. If you would like to help us celebrate, please send a love offering in honor of his birthday. Your support helps us share unconditional love in the Tenderloin, in San Francisco and throughout the world. Contribute to our fundraiser in Honor of Cecil’s 94th Birthday here.