23 April 2009

Reminding Me of Another Inspirational City Hall event: Del Martin's Memorial Service

Being in City Hall Monday evening for the Goldman Prize reception reminded me about another event held at City Hall that I still think about (I realize that some of my posts are going to be about past events that I would have blogged about had I been blogging): Del Martin's memorial service last October. 

Del Martin's City Hall Memorial Service: banners of Del and Phyl, Glide choir with City honor guard at top of stairs, the halls and balconies filled with people celebrating Del's life.

My dear friend, Dena, especially since she sadly moved to 'Gene, OR, always reminds me about important events in the SF LGBT community when they cross her screen at work, and I'm glad she didn't let me forget about this celebration of Del's life.

Three main themes that day especially moved me: thinking again about Del and her achievements, the nature and feel of the ceremony itself, and the words spoken by Del's daughter toward its close.

Cover of the Program for Del Martin's Civic Celebration

Del and Phyl Lyon became a couple and starting working on queer issues in 1950 (!) and they stayed focused on both of those things together until Del died in August of last year.  Del was truly a steward and icon of the queer movement; Del and Phyl started the Daughters of Bilitis, The Ladder, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual, the Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club and so much more.  And I know I wasn't alone when I cried both times Del and Phyl got married in City Hall.  But that day it really hit home again how brave both of them had been to start this work when they did.

Program text and photos

Sitting in the Rotunda that afternoon as the service started, it struck me that we don't only live in 'the bubble," we are a separate country, and I felt very proud that it felt like a 'state funeral' that led off with an honor guard of uniformed police, fire, emergency, and parks staff carrying the U.S., California, San Francisco, and gay pride flags; our mayor spoke, as did our gay assemblymember, and our congressperson sent word from DC; all of the heads of city departments, our city supervisors, and so many SF queer, civic, progressive, and religious leaders from different generations filled the Rotunda that day.  To hear and see the arc of modern queer history and gay rights in that space, from official police intimidation to our police chief sitting in the front row, was extremely powerful.  And I know we were all keenly aware of us gathering together four months after our highest state court granted marriage equality and one month before that right was being put to a popular vote (more blogging on this too, I'm sure).

And I was truly inspired by something Del's and Phyl's daughter Kendra said to close her words:

"...Mom was not an extraordinary person, but rather a person who accomplished extraordinary things. This is important because each of us is needed to continue her work - - our work. It would be a shame if you left today, thinking that Mom was somehow bigger or bolder than you could ever be. In my view, what was extraordinary about what Mom did, and what Mom and Phyllis did together, is that they had clarity of purpose, set seemingly impossible goals and then just never quit...

Two other notes: Holly Near sang a beautiful song, "All That There Is;" I haven't been able to find a clip, recording, or lyrics anywhere, but will share it if I do--please let me know if anyone else has any info.  And Jim Hormel cited this John Wesley quote when he spoke, and it really made it so clear to me what we all do need to do to move queer rights forward:

"Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." 

1 comment:

  1. OMG I loved this. I got teary. Thank you so much for sharing this -- as you know (and noted), I was already in Eugene when this happened, and I wasn't able to be there. I had no idea that it was like a state funeral and there was a whole honor guard. That really moved me.

    I love that last quote. Thanks for reminding me. Good way to start the weekend!

    P.S. Don't think I've gotten over your nickname of Eugene. Don't even.


Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin