Those for whom I march As I march my introverted self down the street, besides alternately holding my wife's hand, helping to carry our church's banner, and practicing my best "Miss America" wave, I steady my nerves by reminding myself of those for whom I march. by David R Weiss "B efore we begin this Festival Mass that will open our new school year, we invite you to turn to the person next to you to introduce yourself and greet them," said the worship leader. I was at the back of the church sanctuary, standing in the aisle, in my black master's academic gown, with my red velvet hood, denoting my degree in theology. It was the start of a new school year at the Catholic college where I (a Lutheran) work in campus ministry. My job was to signal the start of a very festive procession down the aisle, making sure that each person was paced appropriately. I turned to the young woman standing next to me in the aisle, our Student Senate president. Claire, attired in her own black gown, was first in the procession, carrying a college banner. I knew her name from the program only; we'd never met. "Hi," I said, "My name is David, I work in campus ministry." Claire smiled brightly and said, "I'm Claire, and I know who you are. This past summer I was at the Twin Cities Pride Parade with some of my friends. As we were watching the parade you walked by with your church, and I recognized you as being from our college. One of the friends with me had you for a class and told me who you were. David, it brought tears to my eyes to know there was a straight man from my college marching in our Pride Parade!" And her eyes welled up again with gratitude. Then the music started, I watched for my signal from the choir director, and I sent Claire marching down the aisle, both of us the straight Lutheran man and the lesbian Senate President finding our most powerful moment of grace in the eyes of each other before the Catholic Mass had even started. I learned a powerful lesson that day. I've marched with my Lutheran church (part of a larger contingent of about 24 Lutheran churches that are represented at Twin Cities Pride) for several years now. Mind you, like many writers, I have a pretty close relationship with my introversion. Marching for a mile and a half down a gauntlet of crowded sidewalk (we have 125,000 people turn out for our parade!) even if the crowds are cheering those of us who march, it's not exactly my cup of tea. March - Continued Page 20 9 | Q View Northwest - Spokane Edition | June 2009 |