Logo’s Trailblazers special on June 26 honors those in the LGBT community who have forged a path for the rest of us to follow. So its only fitting the hourlong event is being filmed at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Harlem, the mother church of the New York Episcopal diocese and one of New York’s most LGBT-friendly houses of worship.
Built at the turn of the 20th century, St. John’s has always fostered a progressive community: In the 1960s, services were held advocating for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. Consecration ceremonies have been held for female priests and bishops, and sculptures in the church honor social-justice icons including Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
The church has also been a pioneer when it comes to the LGBT community: Even before New York passed the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, St. John the Divine welcomed gay and lesbian couples, and has held a Pride celebration, Spirit of Pride, for years. After marriage equality came to New York, St. John’s was one of the first religious venues to perform same-sex marriages.
LGBT clergy have long been welcome at the church and Bishop Gene Robinson—the first openly gay Episcopalian bishop—debuted God Believes in Love: Straight Talk About Gay Marriage with a talk at the church. St. John’s has
also hosted the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and other LGBT choral and community groups.
One of Keith Haring’s final works, the triptych altarpiece Life of Christ (right) is located in the Cathedral’s Saint Savior Chapel. Featuring Haring’s faceless angels etched in bronze and white gold, the altarpiece was completed just weeks before the artist succumbed to AIDS in 1990.
Each year, the Cathedral holds a World AIDS Day Service of Remembrance and the National AIDS Memorial Book of Remembrance has a permanent home at St. John.
To learn more about this iconic edifice, take one of the Cathedral regular tours, which offer insightful tidbits about its history, architecture and art. Or simply check out one of its daily services. True to form, they are some of the city’s most welcoming.
Take a photo tour of St. John the Divine here.