Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir and St Mary's South Brisbane

The 15th anniversary of the Brisbane Lesbian and Pride Choir should be of interest to local Catholics. In a report covering the arrival of the Capuchin Friars to St Mary's Parish of South Brisbane  there is a reference to the popping of the mosaic tiles in the Church Sanctuary. Bad plumbing seems to be the  source of the popping.

The night the tiles began to lift was also the regular rehearsal time for the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir at St Mary's. With the Choir members, I remember looking in amazement at the mosaic of small tiles popping out of place. Little did we know on that night that the "popping" would usher in  one of the most explosive chapters in the history of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.

My association with the choir began in its early days when they were looking for a space for weekly rehearsals.At that time the Church  of St Mary's South Brisbane was a vibrant and exciting space which acknowledged Indigenous  Country and hosted public events for Domestic Violence Remembrance Day, Peace Ceremonies and other public rituals for justice and community building.

I consider my work in securing the Choir a  home in the Church for a significant part of its 15 year history to be one of the graced moments of pastoral care in my life and work as a Christian. As well as using the Church for a rehearsal space the Choir performed at regular community gatherings and celebrations.This relationship between the Church and the Brisbane Lesbian and  Gay Pride Choir was challenging for some choir members.It took bravery and maturity to  feel at home in a building that  represented  a culture of exclusion and homophobia for many.It is a tribute to the community that worshiped and gathered at St Mary's at that time .that they could create a space of welcome and hospitality for  many diverse groups.

The Choir's presence in the Church was not welcome by others including John Bathersby, the then Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane.

A turbulent history and a decision to hand the Church over to the Capuchin Friars now sees this beautiful building no longer a centre for creative rituals of inclusion, justice and peace making for the local community. St Mary's does not appear on the list of "Welcoming Gay Friendly Churches in Australia"



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