Light Up The Cathedral For Pride 🌈⛪

Dear Pride Family,

“Making History Now” is the theme for this year’s 50th anniversary of San Diego Pride and is a perfect description of Light Up The Cathedral For Pride. The Interfaith service has its roots in outreach, but it has become a beacon of hope, love in a celebration that features LGBTQIA+ affirming interfaith clergy, readings and faith-inspired music in the safe space of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. It is a unique official event and partnership with San Diego Pride that offers interfaith inclusivity with LGBTQIA+ community and faith leaders from throughout San Diego County. Light Up The Cathedral For Pride continues on “Making History Now”.  

Nine years ago, the newly arrived Dean Penny Bridges had a vision for the Cathedral community that was a forward-thinking approach for outreach to the LGBTQIA+ community during Pride week in San Diego. Because the Pride Parade ends directly across the street from the church, and the two-day festival takes place only two blocks away, Dean Penny believed that lighting the exterior of the Cathedral edifice in rainbow colors would make a visual statement of support and affirmation to the thousands of people who pass by our location during the week. A generous donor caught her vision and in July 2015, the Cathedral was bathed in rainbow color, the first Cathedral anywhere in the USA to light up its entire facade for Pride. And so it started, with LGBTQIA+ community leaders and the congregation attending a blessing service outside in the Queen’s Courtyard. Many of our local elected officials attend annually.

By the third year, with the rise of the so-called Religious Freedom laws and the rise of Christian nationalism, San Diego Pride and St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral began to identify affirming and inclusive pro-LGBTQIA+ interfaith leaders to create an interfaith Light Up celebration. It is vital to counter the message of hate and bigotry from the religious right by uniting affirming and diverse interfaith leaders. The most powerful voices to speak out against religious bigotry are affirming inclusive faith leaders, whose common belief in God’s universal love for all human beings shines a bright light in the darkness. We now have over 100 affirming, inclusive interfaith congregations and clergy involved in San Diego Pride’s interfaith DevOUT program of education, advocacy and intersectional social justice activism. Light Up The Cathedral is the flagship event of organizing interfaith leaders around LGBTQ+ equality and gives affirming inclusive faith practices in San Diego County the opportunity to shine their lights!

In the most recent national polling, over 63% of LGBTQIA+ people identify a faith practice. Our community has had a difficult and oppressive history with the religious organizations of their youth, resulting in many wounded and hurting souls. Many LGBTQIA+ people are seeking a safe place to embrace their authentic spiritual self and have been afraid to enter a house of worship. Thanks to San Diego Pride’s visionary and courageous leadership, the community partnership with St. Paul’s Cathedral( a first of its kind anywhere in the USA) has enabled us to identify and  bring together and organize over 100 affirming interfaith clergy. The Light Up The Cathedral program participants represent affirming diverse congregations of Christian, Jewish Rabbis, Priests, Universalists, Buddhists, and Humanists including our Episcopal Diocese Bishop Susan Brown Snook. It unites the interfaith leaders with our LGBTQIA+ community under one roof- singing, praying, worshiping and celebrating together our beloved status as children of God. It is an affirmational evening of inspirational music and reading, ending in a procession outside and the blessing of the Lights and our San Diego Pride week events.

Each year we highlight a ministry or faith organization that has shown exemplary work in and service to the fight for equality and dignity of LGBTQIA+ people. This year the “Light of PRIDE” award will be spotlighting the Buddhist Dharma Bum Temple and its founder Bodhi Cari Jeff Zlotnik. The program includes performances by the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, the San Diego Women’s Chorus, Soloist and Music Director Joey Pearson and a surprise musical performance!  Please join us on July 17 at 7pm- whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey, you are welcome and beloved and free to be YOU at Light Up the Cathedral For Pride!

With Pride,

Susan Jester (she/her)
Licensed Lay Minister of Evangelism
St. Paul’s Cathedral

Susan Jester is a licensed lay minister at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and the co-coordinator, with Bob Leyh of Light Up The Cathedral since it’s beginning. This year Joe Fejeran is the SD Pride co-coordinator.


About San Diego Pride

San Diego Pride raises funds primarily through festival ticket and beverage sales, and through sponsorships, and exhibitor fees. These funds support San Diego Pride’s community philanthropy which has distributed more than $2.5 million in advancement of its mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.