March 01, 2008

Movement by Churches in Australia

A major part of repentance is saying your sorry. A large group of churches have done just that down under.

From the blog "A Life of Unlearning-A Journey to Find the Truth":

Like the crack in a fortress after an earthquake, every now and then a catalytic event opens the way for social transformation. One such event happened last week when Baptist, Churches of Christ, Pentecostal and Anglican ministers began signing a document that said: “We recognise that the churches we belong to and the church in general, has not been a place of welcome for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. We are deeply sorry and ask the forgiveness of the GBLT community We long that the church would be a place of welcome for all people and commit ourselves to pursuing this goal.''.

This is a wonderful step. Anthony Venn-Brown writes much more about it here.

February 29, 2008

"The Appalling Silence of the Good"

That's a phrase the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used to describe the lack of support white ministers gave to the 1960's civil rights movement from the pulpit of their churches. In an op-ed piece in the Washington Blade, Robert Bernstein finds a similarity between that and the public silence of clergy today regarding GLBT rights.

.....precisely the same kinds of pressures — perceived danger to their jobs and pensions, aversion to confrontation, fear of congregational wrath — are today squelching what would otherwise amount to massive clerical support of gay equality and gay marriage.

Rt. Rev. Rusty Smith of D.C., a former Catholic priest, now a bishop of the Evangelical Anglican Church of America, says “mainstream denominations are full of ministers who know that gay inequality isn’t right but don’t speak their secrets out loud. The fear factor is just horrible among clergy.”

Harry Knox, who heads HRC’s Religion and Faith Program, denounces clerics who “have made an idol of their pension. They say, ‘I’ve got to take care of my family.’ I tell them, ‘Well, I’ve got to take care of my family, too, and what you’re saying to me is that yours matters more than mine.’”

Dennis Hahle is a retired Evangelical Lutheran minister now living in Littleton, North Carolina with his wife Jeannie. They have a gay son and say they know numerous colleagues similarly situated but only privately supportive. And their own local church’s atmosphere is so repressive that Jeannie says, “It feels as though we’re in the closet ourselves, because we can’t really share in our congregation the way we’d want to.”

Supporting GLBT equality doesn't do a lot of good unless you actually SUPPORT it. Preachers need to listen to their conscience and address the ongoing discrimination from their pulpit. If they don't take on the role of moral leadership, who will? We know there are plenty of loud voices on the other side shouting hate and bigotry from their pulpits, so it is especially critical that the message of love and justice also be heard.

Click here to read the rest of the article from the Washington Blade.

February 27, 2008

Out With Cancer

I received a note about this program recently and I'm happy to share it with my readers:

From the Out With Cancer website:

Out with Cancer is the worlds first program for Gay, Lesbian, BI and Trans men and women who are diagnosed with cancer. With Out with Cancer you can:
Create a circle of friends who share your diagnosis, or, simply, care about you
Write your own blog
Learn from or mentor others dealing with cancer
Post photos and profiles
Promote your own event or attend other members' events
Chat live in online support groups, clubs and one to one sessions
Make new friends...OutWithCancer is your place to connect -- how is up to you.

OutWithCancer is a Bi-phobia and Trans-phobia free zone. We're here about the cancer, and the connections we make. Not a member yet? Please click here to join Out with Cancer or push the button "Join now" below to apply! Membership is free. Questions? Please email:

They also have a related blog:

The LGBT cancer project of the national nonprofit, Malecare, includes the OutWithCancer, and LGBT CANCER websites. Here, you will find patient and doctor written articles about Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people diagnosed with cancer.

As the Oscar-winning documentary "Freeheld" and others have shown, a LGBT person with cancer often faces challenges beyond a heterosexual person, frequently with less support.

I encourage anyone who's life has been directly or indirectly impacted by this situation to check out this site and join the networking.

February 26, 2008

Sitting Down and Talking About It

A rare thing happend recently at Harvard University. A diverse group sat down and had a spirited but rational discussion on homophobia within the black community:

From Bay Windows newspaper:

It’s hard to imagine two topics more polarizing in America than race and sexuality, and when three Harvard University student groups convened a Feb. 20 forum on homophobia within the black community it was conceivable that the discussion could have erupted into a catastrophic argument. What happened was just the opposite. For two hours Cambridge Mayor Denise Simmons, former mayor and current City Councilor Kenneth Reeves, and a diverse group of about 70 Harvard students and community members gathered in the common room of the Lowell House dormitory and engaged in a freewheeling discussion about homosexuality and the black community, a discussion frequently punctuated by laughter. The forum, co-sponsored by the Harvard College LGBT Political Coalition, the Harvard Black Men’s Forum, and the Association of Black Harvard Women, revealed a broad range of perspectives on how black LGBT people have been received within their families, the church, Harvard, Cambridge, and the broader community.

There were a wide range of experiences and incidents shared with the group, most of whom came away with a better understanding of the other side on issues impacting the black GLBT community.

Talking, listening, learning.....perhaps it's not a lost art after all.

Click here to read the entire article from Bay Windows.

February 25, 2008

Freeheld Wins Oscar for Best Short Documentary

From Gay City News:

"Freeheld: The Laurel Hester Story," Cynthia Wade's 38-minute film that chronicled the battle of a 25-year veteran of the Ocean County, New Jersey police, as she was dying of cancer, to transfer her earned pension to her lesbian partner, won the Oscar for Best Short Documentary in Hollywood on February 24.

Ocean County freeholders had the legal option to extend those benefits under New Jersey's 2004 domestic partner law, but did not do so until Lieutenant Hester waged her successful struggle on partner Stacie Andree's behalf against their initially adamant refusal.

Garden State Equality, the New Jersey LGBT civil rights lobby, celebrated the film's nomination (and victory) at the South Orange Performing Arts Center while the Oscar broadcast was being aired.

Garden State Equality worked with Hester on her effort, and the film documentary represents one of the most powerful examples in GSE's lobbying campaign to educate voters on why complete marriage equality is the only way in which same-sex couples can be assured of the rights and benefits that New Jersey's Supreme Court now requires.

In a striking irony, the Oscar was announced by a group of American service members via a satellite feed from Baghdad, a nearly unprecedented opportunity for the US military to speak out on behalf of LGBT equality.

PageOne Q has more on the film and the people and views behind it.

With less than six months to live as cancer spreads to her brain, Laurel battles the Ocean County Freeholders, her elected officials, to give to Stacie what heterosexual married couples receive automatically.

The film captures both the very public and urgent dispute with the Freeholders, as well as Laurel and Stacie’s intensely private struggle as they come to terms with losing one another.

“Freeheld shows the power that personal stories have to change hearts and minds and to move a community to action,” said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano. “Though the film’s impetus was the discrimination gay and lesbian couples face, it is ultimately about the triumph of spirit and how a community came together to do the right thing.”

In an interview with GLAAD's Director of Entertainment Media Damon Romine, Cynthia Wade, a straight ally, spoke to how the film documents a non-traditional community of support for Laurel.

"[I]n the film, the most, sort of staunchest allies that really stood by Laurel's side were these straight, kind of dominating, macho cops that normally would not be considered gay allies," said Wade. "But because they saw one of their favorite police partners face discrimination, they realized it was wrong and said, 'No, we're going to stand up as a community and say this is wrong. It's about equality.' So one of the greatest things about this film is that we've really been able to bring in hybrid audiences from across the country so that everybody can talk about equal rights because it's everybody's responsibility."

Thanks to this film, Laural Hester's life will continue to touch that of others for a long time. Congratulations to everyone involved with this wonderful project.

February 24, 2008

Ridiculing Gay Men is not Christlike

Despite that painfully obvious truth, there are those who do so freely and enthusiastically. Fortunately, the chorus of people calling these hate mongers out is expanding beyond those directly victimized into mainstream media that is appalled by the injustice.

An example of that is an op/ed piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

Personally, I have no problem with the effort to make church work better for men or challenging men to step up and do something with their lives.....I have a big problem with the guy emphasis when it relies on making gay men objects of derision and ridicule.

Such appears to be the case in remarks made by Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland. Hutcherson has gotten headlines for his efforts to pressure Microsoft on gay issues. He has a right to his views -- views he supports with texts from Scripture. Reasonable people can disagree over whether gay marriage is a good idea.

But Hutcherson goes beyond reasonable, at least to judge by the report of Seattle psychologist Valerie Tarico. Tarico, a former staffer at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center, was raised in a fundamentalist church.

On a Sunday when Tarico was present, Hutcherson was preaching on gender roles. During his sermon, Hutcherson stated, "God hates soft men" and "God hates effeminate men."

Hutcherson went on to say, "If I was in a drugstore and some guy opened the door for me, I'd rip his arm off and beat him with the wet end."

"That was a joke," Hutcherson said Friday, when I asked him about the comment. But it's not really funny, is it?

Hutcherson, it should be noted, is not alone in such statements. In some churches a video called "The Gay Agenda" is popular. The tape shows gay people doing perverse things and then alleges this is what gay people are like, which is pretty much on par with showing Internet porn and saying this is what heterosexual people are like.

An evangelical Christian who sees the danger here is Tony Campolo, who recently spoke in Seattle. In the course of his talk Campolo told a story about "Roger," a gay teen from Campolo's high school years. In gym class and the showers boys would taunt Roger day after day, stinging him with their towels. One day in the shower, five guys backed Roger into a corner. After taunting him, all five urinated on Roger. That night, Roger went home and hanged himself. While Campolo was not among the abusers, he knew it was going on. Today, he holds himself responsible for standing silently by.

"I wonder," writes Campolo, "how many of us by words and deeds, even without being aware of it, have said things that created pain and suffering for others?"

Most of us would have to plead guilty to Campolo's question. I hope that clergy interested in supporting men will think twice about building up some by deriding others.

Some of the men I have the priviledge of sharing worship with every Sunday would fall under the banner of effeminate men, which means that Ken Hutcherson thinks God would hate them. If I wanted to show someone an example of what a godly man should be, however, I would without hesitation point to effeminate males in my church over someone demonstrating the ignorance and bigotry that Hutcherson flaunts.

Anyone who focuses on a man's appearance or the skills he has or doesn't have to determine how God would judge them doesn't understand manhood and is light years away from understanding God. Anyone who let's someone like Hutcherson spew his hatred without challenging them doesn't get it either. Tony Campolo learned from his tragic experience of staying silent, and it's not too late for others to reach the same conclusion. If we are truly seeking to be like Christ, we won't spew hate, and we won't stand silently by watching someone else do so.

Click here to read the rest of the Seattle P-I story. Thanks to PageOneQ for the link.