In looking at the here and now, I am fortunate to be here. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, kind, and in different ways, it's thriving. I shot pictures of places I looked at growing up. I noticed places that had changed, the cityscape had been altered and retouched. Once place I was drawn to was the State Theater. In my youth, it was my church, the former Jesus People's Church, where ironically I had performed with their youth group. I had been on that very stage for our congregation. Over 23 years ago, I watched that church fall under its own weight of multiple scandals that included embezzlement, sexual affairs, and statutory rape. I don't know why I stayed as long as I did, almost to the point of the actual doors finally closing. It seemed like as I became an adult, I saw my innocence die with my church. I choose to think that it was my ignorance instead of my innocence, but that may be wishful thinking. I saw the conflict of teaching and the reality of living life.
Today, as I looked at the State Theater, and see the image of 'La Cage Aux Folles', I remembered a night that changed my life. It was on Hennepin Avenue, at this very spot I had made my first openly gay friend. At the time he was suicidal over his orientation and had been openly condemned by a youth pastor. I found him crying, and instead of walking away, we walked up and down Hennepin Avenue together, holding hands as I listened to his confessions. It was the first time in my life where I began to realize that the practice of condemning people, or more accurately, hating people, was anything but 'Christian'. I didn't talk him out of suicide. I listened. He was the one that chose life. Too often people think they have to save people or change people when we don't possess that kind of power or control over others. All I did was to just accept him as he was. I chose love over judgement, even though my belief 'system' conflicted.
It's 23 years later and the State Theater's marquee was a reminder that change is very much a part of life and that sometimes all you really need to do for someone else is just accept them as they are. Love always wins, though not always in the way that you might think. Maybe that is why I smile so much, after all, it's the best way to take on the world.