Travis Park UMC Helped Get San Antonio Non-Discrimination Law Passed

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Travis Park UMC has a unique history

Which I know well as a native San Antonian and cradle Methodist: it is located catty-cornered from Travis Park itself from which it gets its name, a one block square of greenery with a statue of the martyred fallen Alamo hero, William Barrett Travis, in the center. TPUMC is to the southwest of the park and the historical St. Anthony Hotel, a favored lodging for cattle barons in town on business, is just south of the park. Commercial development is somewhat mixed nearby. The Municipal Auditorium is about a block northwest and for many years (still?) a huge telephone company building was nearby. As a taxi driver in the early 1970s I picked up the late night operators from there. But by night the park itself was long known as a "tearoom" or "gay cruising area," a contact point for anonymous male-male sex, attracting hustlers, some in drag, and their johns, many married and on the down low. The vice squad made frequent appearances there. By the time AIDS was identified in the mid-1980s many hustlers and their johns were infected. TPUMC responded to this reality literally across the street from them not with the presentation of Jack Chick tracts or Westboro Baptist style picket signs but with providing the park's denizens with what they needed: food, clothing, shelter, medical care - in other words, to "feed my sheep" as Jesus directed Peter at the end of the Johnanine gospel. In that spirit they developed close relations with the local LGBT community and distrust from the more conservative UMC churches in town. That this latest development occurred now is no surprise. It is merely the most recent in a series of bold Christian witnessings by this congregation .

George N. Shuler more than 3 years ago

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