Rainbow Family Values
by Rev. Michael S. Piazza
Source of Hope Publishing, 1996
Reviewed by Gip Plaster
Since lesbian and gay people are just beginning to find role models,
few examples of healthy relationships with partners and families of choice
exist, but the senior pastor of the world's largest predominately lesbian
and gay church has written a book that fills this void.
Rev. Michael Piazza, whose church serves a congregation of three thousand
mostly gay and lesbian people and has already outgrown a 900 seat sanctuary
completed in 1992, shares his personal experiences and research in his fourth
book, Rainbow Family Values.
The book is divided into two parts. First, Piazza looks at family formation,
then he offers advice on beginning a healthy family by starting with a committed
relationship with a partner. Piazza points out that right-wing religious
zealots are destroying the family fabric of America by attacking gay and
"Today, overt racism is socially frowned upon, and Communism has been
defeated. The Radical Right requires another 'enemy,'" Piazza writes.
But their rhetoric, he says, causes children to be rejected and abused.
"The hateful Right should be worried, because they are undermining
the very institution they purport to esteem."
Piazza examines the Religious Right's attacks on gay and lesbian people
and suggests the "Family of God's Dreams," made up of more than
just one or two people, but of an extended family of choice -- people who
may or may not be related by biology but are related by emotion. The pastor
says relationships don't have to be based on a committed couple. His relationship
with Bill, his partner, though, forms the basis of his other relationships,
which include two children (one adopted, the other born by artificial insemination)
the mothers of his children and a circle of close friends.
Piazza is the senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope Metropolitan Community
Church. He pastored Methodist churches for almost a decade before joining
Metropolitan Community Church, a denomination of churches formed by lesbian
and gay Christians. He hopes to build the Dallas church into a "Psychological
Cathedral" for the lesbian and gay community, a goal that is rapidly
becoming a reality as the congregation embarks on a plan to build a new
church home designed by the world-famous architect Philip Johnson.
Most of the Rainbow Family Values is devoted to Piazza's advice for
couples. He uses his own relationship as an example as well as examples
from the couples he has encountered in more than twenty years of pastoring
Methodist and Metropolitan Community Church congregations. Piazza points
out that many lesbian and gay people don't get to date as teens and often
must either rush ahead with no experience to adult relationships or try
to date like teens in later life; neither is a really good option, he says.
He encourages readers to enter relationships slowly.
Time is important in relationships, he says, just as it is in cooking
with yeast. "Without time, the proper chemical reaction does not occur
and you end up with something that is half-baked," Piazza says.
He notes four keys to forming healthy relationships. Commitment, covenant,
communication and compatibility. Each have their own chapter, and he also
provides several lists of "do's and don't" about forming and sustaining
long term relationships.
Ultimately, Piazza's book recommends relationship based on trust, mutuality,
communication, prayer, love and fun. He encourages gay and lesbian couples
to not worry about trying to fit their relationships into the mold of a
heterosexual couple with children. After all, that model is resulting in
high percentages of divorce, dysfunction and unhappiness.
Piazza suggest readers live a life like Jesus -- the Jesus who turned
water into wine (not grape juice, he notes) at a wedding feast and
called a group of outcasts who weren't biologically related to him his family.
The Religious Right may see healthy gay and lesbian relationships as a threat,
but Jesus, he says, sees those relationships as modeled after God's plan.
The Religious Right often seem to be trying to destroy the lesbian and
gay community, but by forming stronger relationship within the
community and outside of it, the community can become stronger than ever.
Rev. Piazza's book can help that happen.
If the book is not yet available in your area, order it from Cathedral
of Hope at 800-501-HOPE.
Gip Plaster is an independent writer for gay and lesbian publications
around the country and is a regular contributor to The Texas Triangle. Reach
him on-line at firstname.lastname@example.org.