[The Episcopal News] For Ethan Ide – a Babson College rising sophomore and lifelong member of All Saints’ Church, Beverly Hills – joining some 80 fellow Episcopalians in this year’s L.A. Pride parade on June 11 was enriched by family ties.
“My parents marched in the parade with me, as did my godparents,” said Ide, who told The News he came out as gay while in sixth grade. “Family support is huge for me. My sexuality in church has never been an issue, and the march was a great example of that.”
“We’re certainly proud of Ethan and the work that he’s doing to make a safe space for other young people who didn’t have the same safe space as he did,” said Ide’s dad – filmmaker Brian, noting his son’s current initiative to found a non-profit supporting LGBTQ+ youth in the Boston area.
“He realized very early that he was blessed growing up in a church like All Saints’ and in the Diocese of Los Angeles, and now that he’s travelled, he has realized that not everyone has grown up in the same environment he did,” said Brian Ide, joined along the parade route by his wife and Ethan’s mom, Karen Woodward Ide, and Ethan’s godparents, Debbie and Chris Winchell.
Highlighting the sense of extended church family was The Episcopal Church’s former presiding bishop, the Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, who waved to parade-goers along the mile-long Hollywood route from a white Ford Mustang convertible, accompanied by the diocesan contingent marching under the theme “You Are Loved.”
Jefferts Schori was present at the invitation of L.A. Bishop Diocesan John Harvey Taylor, who officiated that Sunday at the centennial Eucharist of Pasadena’s historically black St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, and will join Episcopalians at the Orange County Pride celebration on Saturday, June 24.
Jefferts Schori expressed to the Very Rev. Christopher Montella, president of the Bishop’s Commission on LGBTQ+ Ministries and L.A. Pride contingent organizer, her “hope that the day would be a witness to love incarnate, love that enlivens, heals and is always making more of God’s self in mortals.”
“The day absolutely was,” said Montella – rector of St. Stephen’s in Santa Clarita and dean of the diocese’s tri-valley Deanery 2 – adding his appreciation for Jefferts Schori’s “affability and warm engagement of people both in the staging area and along the route. It was meaningful.
“It was very obvious to me that the people lining Hollywood Boulevard needed to see our brand of Christian witness, that they are loved, worthy and valid,” Montella said. “Our showing up at this parade did a lot to share that message that not every Christian is anti-LGBTQ+.
“The fact that we had the former presiding bishop with us went a long way to highlighting the fact that this is a message that The Episcopal Church wants to deliver, not just a few local congregations, but this is something that we stand for churchwide.”
Ethan Ide agrees: “We are doing God’s work in a way that many other churches aren’t, and the numbers are there to show how effective we are.”
Baptized at All Saints’, Ide has served as youth warden, acolyte, and chorister, and he was preacher for the parish’s recent youth Sunday.
“The Episcopal Church has always played a big part in my life, yet growing up I’ve seen number of people who are Queer and hate the church based on past painful experiences. I’ve never been able to relate to that,” said Ide. “I helped found the Queer group at Loyola High School, I currently sit as vice president of the pride group at Babson, and I am founding a non-profit that will host social events for queer college-age people in Boston.” All Babson students are business majors specializing in entrepreneurship, Ide noted.
Ide added that, walking the parade route lined by more than 100,000 on-lookers, “I couldn’t help but notice how many people there were and that everybody was cheering the entire time. It kind of felt like they were cheering for me, and at the same time cheering for one another and not just the marchers. It was a day to show your support, and to accept your sexuality.”
Montella underscored the current national context: “At this critical moment in our culture – with all the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, all the hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community that we’re seeing here locally – it was powerful that the church, in particular The Episcopal Church, was showing up and sharing the message of God’s unconditional love.”
Voicing his thanks for the “contingent of almost 80 Episcopalians who showed up to help spread the love,” Montella said he is “particularly grateful to the people of All Saints’ Beverly Hills, who – given their proximity to the parade route – turned out and comprised almost half of the diocesan contingent.” Parishioner Steve Fleenor will soon take the helm of All Saints’ LGBTQ+ ministries.
Other congregations represented included St. Wilfrid’s, Huntington Beach; St. Luke’s, La Crescenta; All Saints, Pasadena; St. Paul’s, Pomona; St. Stephen’s, Santa Clarita, and St. Augustine by-the-Sea, Santa Monica; together with the L.A. parishes of St. Bede’s, Mar Vista; St. James in the City, Wilshire Center; St. John’s Cathedral, downtown; St. Michael and All Angels, Studio City; St. Thomas the Apostle, Hollywood; and St. Stephen’s, Hollywood, where the Rev. Jaime Edwards-Acton, rector, and parishioners made space available for staging.
Montella also thanked All Saints Pasadena’s Thomas Diaz, vice-chair of the Bishop’s Commission on LGBTQ+ Ministries, for his teamwork in organizing the contingent. Montella voiced his gratitude for the logistical and personal support of his husband, Erick Long.
Episcopalians have participated in the Christopher Street West Association’s L.A. Pride Parade since its founding in 1970, not long after the 1967 raid on Silver Lake’s BlackTavern and the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in New York’s Greenwich Village. The Bishop’s Commission’s official diocesan contingents began in 1992. This year’s L.A. Pride parade, the 53rd annual such event, returned to its original central Hollywood route after several decades in West Hollywood.
“Given that we haven’t been part of the parade for a couple of years due largely to the pandemic, it was a wonderful return, and it felt good to be out of our buildings and into the streets sharing God’s message of unconditional love,” Montella said. “It felt life-giving for those of us who were part of it. We needed to show up for it as much as the people who were watching the parade.”
— Bob Williams, diocesan canon for common life, has reported on the Episcopal presence at Southland LGBTQ+ pride celebrations for the past 30 years. A PDF of his 1993 coverage, a first for The Episcopal News, is here.