06/20/2007 10:06 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A Reason for Pride

I didn't miss the significance of having to walk past the Stonewall
Inn en route to a talk at the Church of St. Luke-in-the-Fields by the
founder of Nigeria's first GLBT organization, Changing Attitudes
Nigeria. The talk was the first of several Gay Pride events sponsored
by this lovely little Episcopal church in the West Village of New York
City, a church well known for its activism around gay and lesbian
issues, and tonight it was full of men and women eager to hear a
different voice coming from Anglicans in Nigeria.

Even as I've kept up with all the fracas in the Anglican Communion
over gay and lesbians (about which I blogged here before), I'd only
recently heard of Davis Mac-Iyalla, which, as he clarified tonight, is
probably due to the prodigious efforts by the Anglican Church in
Nigeria to deny his existence. As one Nigerian bishop said, "There
are no gay and lesbians in Nigeria *not* to have as members of the
church." And specifically of Mr. Mac-Iyalla, the Nigerian church
issued a press release shortly after the successful gathering of over
1000 Nigerian gays and lesbians stating that he's not an Anglican,
he's not gay, and that the group (despite some press coverage of it
elsewhere -- including in the NYTimes) never, in fact, met.

Add to that the various threats to deny his existence literally,
because Mr. Mac-Iyalla has also received anonymous death threats and
scads of hate mail since coming out as a gay Nigerian Anglican. As he
told us tonight, he hopes to show not just the Nigerian Church but the
whole Anglican Communion that he and his fellow GLBT Anglicans in
Africa actually exist by protesting at next year's Lambeth Conference
(the ten-year meeting of Anglican primates from all over the

On my way back home along Christopher Street, I passed various gay
pride rainbow flag-festooned stores like Village Pleasure, The London
Boutique, and New York Fetish, all comfortably situated alongside
trendy, upscale restaurants and boutiques. From the gay and lesbian
married couples sitting in the church pews at St. Luke's to those
stores along Christopher Street to the myriad expressions of gay pride
that will be on display in this Sunday's parade, I was reminded that
we've come a long way since Stonewall, and I'm proud to be part of a
church -- the Episcopal Church -- that is taking us in the direction
of greater justice and freedom.

In the Anglican Communion as a whole, conservatives may be in the
ascendancy for now, but the hopeful side of me wonders if, in
tonight's event, I got the slightest glimpse into the future of the
Anglican Communion.