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Cecil Williams really did that?
Nina Martin | Photo: Stephanie Rausser | February 6, 2013
Sure, he looks cuddly now. But as his new memoir (cowritten with his wife, poet Janice Mirikitani) reveals, Glide Memorial’s iconic pastor used to be kind of a badass:
» He outraced a carload of gun-toting KKK types in Alabama after his track coach had the nerve to enter a store via the front door.
» He was one of five students to desegregate Southern Methodist University (1952).
» He sponsored one of the first public gay dances in S.F. at a nongay venue (in 1964!).
» He caused a huge scandal by tearing down Glide’s big crucifix in 1967 because it was a symbol of death, not life.
» He let the church be used for an “Invisible Circus,” where hippies sipped LSD-spiked Tang and had sex in the aisles and stairways (1967).
» He convinced the super-uptight Randolph Hearst to go on TV and tell his kidnapped daughter, Patty, that he loved her.
» He tried to persuade Jim Jones not to take his People’s Temple flock to Guyana.
» He grew Glide from 35 crabby (and racist) parishioners in 1963 to more than 11,000 multi-culti members (and counting) in 2013.
Originally published in the February 2013 issue of San Francisco.