‘Tolerance’ is a Demanding Mistress

Coming soon to a parish near you. From the “. . .veteran gay and AIDS human rights advocate Michael Petrelis. Based in San Francisco since 1995.”

Gays to Picket San Francisco’s Pro-Putin Russian Church

Source: The Petrelis Files

Who: BoycottRussianVodka.com and Gays Without Borders
What: Picket line and speak out
Where: St Nicholas Cathedral (pictured)
Location: 2005 – 15th Street, between Church and Market Streets
Date: Sunday, August 25, 2013
When: 11:00 AM

st-nicholas-cathedralProtesters will peaceably challenge the Russian Orthodox Church in San Francisco over its support for Russia’s anti-homosexual propaganda law that has led to rising violence and anti-LGBT bigotry in that country.

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I, who lives in Moscow, is a leading proponent of the law. Patriarch Kirill is a longtime supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the two leaders both strongly back the recently enacted anti-gay propaganda law that bans any pro-gay statement or demonstrations in public or private and on the Internet. The law, which was enacted in June, has drawn international condemnation.

Speaking in the English-language Moscow Times on July 21, Patriarch Kirill said of same-sex marriage, “Those who are true to their conscience in fighting these minority-imposed laws are subject to repression. It’s a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse.”

This action is designed to show the love and beauty of LGBT people through the display of the rainbow flag, our international symbol of acceptance and respect for our community.

The St. Nicholas Cathedral in the gay Castro district is under the control and direction of Patriarch Kirill, who in December 2010 appointed Father Leonid Kazakov of the St. Petersburg diocese to lead the San Francisco church. Emails and voice mails to the church were not returned.

On Sunday, August 25, starting at 11:00 am, which is after the worship service at St. Nicholas’ church, members of the LGBT community will speak outside the church on the public sidewalk for acceptance and respect for the Russian LGBT community and call for the repeal of the anti-gay law. Rainbow flags will be displayed on the sidewalk.

Community organizers Robbie Sweeny of BoycottRussianVodka.com and Michael Petrelis of Gays Without Borders are coordinating the picket line and speak out.


  1. This article is interesting. The writer seems (accidentally, I assume) to indicate that Russia has an anti-gay law, or a law which promotes anti-gay propaganda. The fact is that the law simply blocks propaganda which promotes a political agenda which, currently, is using gays as their poster-children it its push toward the kind of class-envy Socialism from which the Russians only recently re-emerged after two generations of class slavery, in the name of the working people it oppressed, and over 100 million murders. I am sure that a thinking person would be able to identify the distinctions.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      Patrick, the Russians fear more than “class-envy Socialism.” They believe that granting homosexuality moral parity portends the kind of catastrophic cultural collapse from which they are emerging. Hence the laws against “homosexual propaganda.” The key word here is “portends.” It is not that culture rise or falls with homosexual activism. About 3% of the population is actively homosexual and of that number only a few are radical activists. Rather, the near universal collapse of Western institutions to the gay rights cultural agenda indicates that the moral foundations of Western culture are weaker than we want to believe.

      Remember that Marxism was a foreign import and imposed at the point of the gun. (Read Solzhenitsyn’s “Lenin in Zurich.” The Germans understood the virulence of the Marxist virus at the time and allowed Lenin passage through Germany to Russia only in a sealed train.) Russia did not have the moral vigor to resist it (mostly the intellectual class) and thus the suffering began. Now they know and are determined not to repeat it no matter how much pressure the (secular) West brings to bear on them.

      The protest at St. Nicholas is just another means to pressure them.

      The Cathedral was rebuilt after Communism fell.

      • James Bradshaw says

        You don’t find Russian’s banning of peaceful public gatherings and demonstrations to be troubling? If your fear of secularism is ultimately its fascism and totalitarianism, how is that remedied by denying what we Americans believe to be fundamental rights (the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly)?

        I don’t particularly care for the Klan or Westboro’s merry band of loons. Their vitriol is a cancer, but I wouldn’t even deny them the right to express their ideas in a public forum. Better to expose these ideas to the light of day than letting them fester.

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

          Actually I do find it troubling but let’s not fool ourselves that the goals don’t reach beyond “peaceful demonstrations” as well. From the Russian point of view, the Western preoccupation with homosexuality represents a cultural juggernaut against the values necessary for Christian civilization not only to survive, but flourish. The Russian resistance is against homosexual “propaganda” (their term), and while it offends American sensibilities to frame it this way, there is no denying that homosexual activism seeks to change culture. Further, coming out of the catastrophic cultural collapse fostered by Communism, their resistance is understandable.

          The debate is really whether or not the normalization of homosexual behavior is culture affirming. I have no problems with letting people live with their own decisions. From what I read that is the stance in Russia too (I don’t live there so I don’t really know). But it is also clear these cultural conflicts portend great changes down the road.

          References to the Klan and Westboro are self-serving. I could just as easily point out the gay couple that adopted a Russian child and loaned him out for sexual abuse. (This case is why the Russian Duma stopped adoptions of Russian children to America.) In fact, I doubt if the Klan or Westboro would ever do such things.

          • James Bradshaw says

            In America, it seems the conflict is over the fact that we have ill-defined parameters of what constitutes freedom of conscience, especially when the freedom to act or not act conflicts with our understanding of the rights of others as well as what lengths the state can go to in protecting those rights.

            This isn’t just over homosexuality, of course (although we’ve certainly seen some unfortunate extremism from gay rights supporters). Look at the contraception mandate.

            On the one hand, I find it offensive to insist that an employer should be forced to provide contraception to employees when it violates their conscience. On the other hand, what types of services should a small business be free to opt out of providing? I can see a case being made for small inns rejecting unmarried couples, but what about a restaurant simply providing food? What’s the difference? Does one force complicity in a specific action that the other does not? Is that even the criteria?

            Do Christian Science parents have a right to not provide urgent medical treatment to a sick child because it violates their religious principles? If not, are we saying there’s an intrinsic “right” to medical care?

            From the law’s perspective, there needs to be borders around these issues beyond what “feels right”. I’m just not sure what those would be. Apparently, the courts aren’t sure, either.

  2. M. Stankovich says

    I am impressed by both of your ascriptions of noble motivations – or as the OCA’s retired Met. Theodosius used to describe as “a cause worthy of a blessing” – in this most recent edition of the Russian “Head-Banger’s Ball.” The photo of a shirtless, surprisingly “buff” President Putin sitting on a horse a la Ronald Regan today reminds me of just how suspicious I should be.

    I had gotten a reputation in NY of being able to facilitate expedited services to the elderly (e.g. access to Medicaid benefits, SSI, nursing home admittance, home nursing care, etc.) because I had worked for the county Office for the Aging and knew the intricacies of the system. This had all started with assisting the sister-in-law of Prof. SS Verhovskoy, who then referred members of the Russian community to me, and I was happy to help, long after I had changed jobs. I use the example because there was a long and undeniable pattern of attitude & behaviour that explains my continuing “suspicion.” Up until the time I left NY in the early 2000’s, nearly all home healthcare (i.e. home “aids,” who are not nurses, but rather assist the elderly in hygiene, taking medications, daily living, etc.) is administered by Black women from the Caribbean Islands (e.g. Jamaicans, Barbadians, etc.), nearly exclusively. At the time, the best agency, providing the best trained, best skilled, and best supervized home health aids was Jewish Community Services of Westchester County. Do you have an idea where this is headed?

    The conversation would lead to a need for a “trustworthy” home health aid for a parent coming home from a “step-down unit” or short-term rehabilitation facility following surgery or a fall, and I would say, “I strongly recommend you call Jewish Community Services, ask for… and tell her I told her to call you.” Silence. “Hello?” “Yes, there are, of course, alternatives?” Pregnant pause, me. “Certainly. Is there a problem?” “Well, you know how Russians “used to feel about the Jews… I don’t know how my father would react…” Pregnant pause, me. “Used to feel?” I then explain that Mrs. Marley, not Mrs. Shapiro provides services; and that it still brings tears to my eyes remembering the kind aid (whose name escapes me) who, until the end of his life, fed Prof. Verhovskoy his meal, and because his vision was so poor, held his hand and read him the Bible.

    The sort of hate-crimes being reported from Russia are certainly incongruent with the fear of “catastrophic cultural collapse.” While it does not necessarily have any direct association with anti-gay hatred per se, it certainly taps into dormant sources of historical hatred and rage that are “reaction formations” (i.e. displaced aggression not directed at the appropriate source) – making Patrick’s comment regarding a “thinking person would be able to identify the distinctions” moot.

    I distinctly recall a terrifically cold NY evening when SVS sponsored a lecture by Dr. Elizabeth Moberly regarding her theory (-ies) of homosexuality. While she and her presentation I have largely forgotten, I will never forget that there were a few sign-carrying protestors outside, and Fr. Thomas Hopko could not bear them standing outside in the bitter cold. He brought them in to the “reception” following the lecture, got them a hot drink and something to eat, and sat with them chatting until they left. This speaks to the questions, “Where do you find the Lord?” “Among sinners.” “Who is the pastor?” “The one who acts as the Master would do Himself.” My point? There are more attractive, more helpful, more sustainable, more proactive, and more profitable motivations than fear and hatred. If you’re in San Francisco Sunday and see Mr. Sweeny & Mr. Petrelis, invite them in for coffee.

  3. Hello,

    I am one of the organizers of tomorrow’s picket line with rainbow flags at the Russian Orthodox Church in one of the gayest neighborhoods in the world, the Castro district of San Francisco. Very curious how you learned about my blog post announcing the peaceful action. Do you regularly read gay bloggers?

    Would like for you to know that we reached out to the St Nicholas Church via emails and voice mails and never heard back from them. We’d be happy to share some chat and coffee with you tomorrow or at another time.

    Michael Petrelis

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse says

      It came through as a Google alert. Michael, with a name like Petrelis, were you raised Orthodox?

    • Barry Kurth says

      I chuckled when I read the complaint in Michael Petrelis blog that the homosexual demonstrators were somehow being “aggressively photographed”.

      Apparently those homosexual demonstrators want to be free to hold a demonstration in public, but then whine that it is somehow “aggressive” to take pictures of them during their public demonstration. And what exactly is “aggressive” photography anyways? Is that when flash cameras go off? It doesn’t appear any flash was used during the taking of the pictures. Is it when the little digital camera is set up to make a little chime sound when the shutter button is depressed?? Do gentle chimes frighten homosexuals??

  4. Michael Bauman says

    Mr. Petrelis, I would be interested in what your outreach to St. Nicholas Cathedral would have entailed if you’d care to share.

Speak Your Mind