We Get Letters: Remembering Rev Joseph Gilbert

Joseph Gilbert was a wonderful man. One time (I don’t remember the year) he led a Gay Pride “march” from Tucson, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona (over 130 miles) It was in the middle of summer here, over 115 degrees in the daytime. We slept during the day and walked at night. We had one “support car”. Each of us would walk for 30 miles a day and then get a ride in the support car. We had a sign that we carried that said “God loves Gay people, do you?” The last day we walked in the daytime, from Mesa Arizona to the church down by the freeway. At one point people drove by and threw bricks and beer bottles at us. I still remember the sound of those bottles hitting the large wall behind our heads. I turned to a lesbian woman walking behind me and said “I’m scared, what do we do?” and she just said “Keep on walking!!”

I lived in North Phoenix and one time my father couldn’t come and pick me up after service, so Rev. Gilbert let me sleep on the floor of the church overnight and gave me an evening meal in his trailer with his partner (John?)

I believe he was truly a man of God, and was always singing that song “Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free.”I wish I could see his face again today in these troubled times.
Phoenix, Arizona

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