Over 30 years ago, when the majority of the population was less accepting, All Saints Church, an Episcopal church located next to Pasadena City Hall, began to champion the rights of LGBTQIA+.
While a spokesperson said the church has seen major changes in laws and norms surrounding the rights of the LGBTQIA+ in recent years, acceptance of LGBTQIA+ people in the local community remains divided.
Pasadena has seen an uptick in violence and threats of violence related to Pride Month and what it stands for. On April 24, a rainbow flag at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple in Pasadena was set on fire and burned. In late May, a man yelled hateful derogatory comments at a transgender person and a fight ensued. Both were arrested, police said at the time.
On May 7, threats were made against All Saints Church.
“The intensity of the climate when it comes to LGBTQIA+ inclusion and equality hit home a couple of weeks ago here at All Saints in Pasadena, as we had a bomb threat made to our community,” said Thomas Diaz, Director of Connection & Care at All Saints.
“The Pasadena Police Department said that there was a tip that someone had planted explosives in our church and that it would be ignited on a particular Sunday. All of it was geared towards LGBTQ homophobia and transphobia,” said Diaz.
The church received additional threats after May 7.
“For our trans community, I would say that Pasadena can do better to assure their safety,” said Diaz.
To maintain the safety of the congregation, the church has implemented a number of additional security measures. While some of the church’s ministries have shifted online, others continue on the All Saints campus with increased security.
Police said investigations into the flag-burning incident and the bomb threat against All Saints Church are ongoing. Neither has as yet been classified as a hate crime.
Lt. Carlo Montiglio said that over the previous five years, Pasadena police have recorded 21 total hate crimes, of which 4 were anti-LGBTQIA+.
Diaz said, “As we think about going into Pride Month, I think what will be significant is the [number of] Pride events that are taking place just in Pasadena alone. And I think that that is a signal to LGBTQIA+ folks that Pasadena is a safe space and we can do better for our trans community.”
In the face of recent threats, Diaz said there has been a shift in attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ within local religious institutions.
He said immediately after All Saints Church received threats, their interfaith partners showed up and stood on their lawn to ensure that members of All Saints Church could safely get into the church.
“They came just to be in unifying spirit with us. And we’re talking from both ecumenical relations within Christianity, all the way to interfaith from Buddhist and Jewish and Muslims coming to All Saints Church to give us both protection and solidarity.”
“And what stood out was that some of these organizations would be deemed as conservative in terms of their theology, and yet they still came to give us support and solidarity, which to me is signaling that there has been a shift in attitudes within religious institutions.”
Diaz expressed hopes that in the future, more local churches and communities in Pasadena will stand to protect the rights of LGBTQIA+.
“We might have differences in our theology, but we should not have an indifference in the way in which we see the dignity of every human being. And I think that is the most urgent matter at the moment, we must work together to say that we must respect the dignity of every human being, regardless of their background, their stripes and color. And that is what will promote peace and harmony in our societies.”
All Saints Church will host several programs for Pride Month including LGBTQIA+ Pride Prom to be held at All Saints Church on Friday, June 2 from 7-9 p.m.
“That’s just really a time to come together and to fellowship, to dance and just enjoy the season of Pride,” said Diaz.
For the month of June, the church will also feature LGBTQIA+ preachers.
“For all of the Pride events, we will have a strong security presence on our campus. They will be visible. And also, we will have folks to be greeters as they’re coming into different entry points, so that there’s both a comfort level and along with a strong security presence on our campus,” said Diaz.
To see All Saints Church’ upcoming events for Pride Month, visit: https://allsaints-pas.org/calendarevents/month/2023-06/