Lucia's PAD Conference Project

Metropolitan Community Church’s Conference for People of African Descent (PAD), Friends and Advocates has been a cathartic event exploring the African-American cultural experience in a queer Christian context. I’m excited about the possibilities for attending the Conference (August 3-5, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri) both as a participant, bringing the experience of one of the longest-surviving African Americans in MCC to connect with and learn from the new generation, and as a journalist examining the issues faced by African Americans and other People of Color in predominately white LGBTQ organizations for features on “This Way Out ” and other community radio outlets. As an added benefit, on the way to the Conference I could take the opportunity to interview other MCC pioneers for the Founders MCC (Los Angeles) Archive Committee’s oral history project.

Promotional materials say that “the 2017 MCC PAC Conference theme ‘Grounded in Love,’ reflects our commitment to stand firmly upon the firm foundation of God’s love for us — a love that compels us to live with a holy boldness that honors who we are and where we have come from and that also frees us to become who God is calling us to be.” There’s more to it than that. Race-based tensions came to a boil at MCC’s General Conference last year, and those matters will need to be processed at this year’s PAD Conference.

There’s been plenty blood under the bridge since the last time I was able to attend an MCC People of Color-related conference — before many of the people who will be at the 2017 PAD Conference were even born. Much has changed, much has not. A paper I wrote for the first panel discussion on racism at an MCC General Conference in 1975 is still amazingly — and painfully — applicable today. But they don’t make black folks like they used to!

The PAD Conference will be an excellent place for me to gather interviews and other audio for a series of radio features on People of Color, beginning with African Americans, in predominantly white LGBT organizations. These features would air on “This Way Out: The International LGBT Radio Magazine ,” the show I co-produce (other material from the trip would be offered to various radio outlets as appropriate). In the future I hope to attend other events in order to expand the series to include other ethnicities.

On the way to St. Louis, I’d have a chance to stop in Abilene, TX to interview MCC pioneers Frank Zerilli and Franklin Calvin, who have each made legendary contributions to the history of MCC in Los Angeles and internationally. FMCC’s Archive Committee has been videoing the stories of people like Frank and Franklin in preparation for the church’s 50th anniversary next year. There are also other early MCC’ers living in the St. Louis area that I may be able to record.

My goal is to raise $2000 to cover the basic costs for the Conference and the side-trip to Abilene — travel, lodging, expenses and registration. Getting to participate in the event and being able to bring back fresh audio and video material for production and archival use will make for a lot of bang for the bucks!


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Lucia Chappelle 
Los Angeles, CA
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