By Sana Saeed
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
The United States took another step in the direction of becoming a welcoming and anti-discriminatory society with the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that DOMA is, in fact, unconstitutional and with its decision to decline to rule on Proposition 8, thus upholding the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision overturning the ban. The time is ripe for exploring the plethrora of faith-based and interfaith based LGBTQ resources provided by LGBTQ allies.
Happily I found in my research a growing number LGBTQ resources not just for for Christians, Jews, but also for Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, Unitarians, and others. This article surveys but the tip of the iceberg of a growing library of faith-based and interfaith resources/literature supporting the LGBTQ community.
Gay Buddhist Sangha is a group of LGBTQ Buddhists from the many different schools within their tradition. They strive to provide a refuge and safe place where LGBTQ Buddhists and those exploring Buddhism can feel supported and valued as they cultivate the practice of Buddhist teachings and learn how to use them in practical ways in their everyday lives. They meet everyday for Dharma gatherings, study groups, periodic retreats, and other activities serve as a gateway to a fuller understanding of the Buddha’s teachings. They also have a Prison Outreach community project.
The Welcoming Church Movement is a superb group for finding out about LGBTQ welcoming Chrisitian communities. Created in November 2002, the purpose of this ecumenical group is to provide resources to facilitate a paradigm shift in multiple denominations, a shift whereby churches become welcoming and affirming of all congregants, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. They have LGBTQ resources on welcoming groups/organizations from Baptists, Mennonites, Lutherans, and others.
More Light Presbyterians is an organization of individual members and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Their goals are to:
- provide a ministry of care for inclusive congregations and build new MLP Chapters around the country;
- educate individuals, churches, and presbyteries on LGBTQ issues through published materials and programs;
- train leaders in congregations and presbyteries to advocate for the full participation of LGBTQ Christians in the life and ministry of the Presbyterian Church;
- support legislation that promotes justice for all in Church and society, focusing on LGBTQ concerns; and
- engage with other ecumenical, interfaith, and secular partners to support the LGBTQ community in matters of justice.
Interfaith Families an excellent website providing informtion about Jewish life. Their LGBTQ resource page offers extensive information on relationships, marriage, parenting, spirituality, all through the perspective of the Jewish LGBTQ community. They view LGBTQ Jewish life as a rich source of inspiration and community and hope the resources reflect the voices of LGBTQ people to foster a spirit of inclusion.
Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV) is an inclusive community rooted in the traditional Qur’anic ideals of human dignity and social justice. MPV welcomes all who are interested in discussing, promoting, and working for the implementation of progressive values — human rights, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state — as well as inclusive and tolerant understandings of Islam. MPV has nine chapters across the U.S., which essentially operate as mosques and allow women to lead services. They welcome interfaith and same-sex couples and host annual retreats for LGBTQ Muslims.
MVP’s Washington DC chapter often partners with the Light of Reform Mosque, led by the first openly gay Muslim imam in the U.S., Imam Daayiee Abdullah. The Light of Reform Mosque provides a fully inclusive community that meets locally every Friday afternoon to worship. They also host a monthly dialogue to examine Islamic scripture and faith through a critical discussion of religious and scholarly texts. For LGBTQ Muslims in Canada there is a similar group to MPV called, Salaam: Queer Muslim Community of Canada. They also have national chapters and mosques, providing safe space for LGBTQ Muslims to particpate in faith-based dialogue and worship.
The Unitarian Universalist Association, the national organization representing UU congregations, has been welcoming to LGBTQ communities since 1973, when they established a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Ministries (LGBTQ Ministries). They are guided by the vision that someday they will be able to put themselves out of business and that oppression against people of all ages, abilities, colors, and economic classes who are marginalized on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity – whether the oppression be overt or subtle – will be a thing of the past.
Please feel free to email me with any more interfaith LGBTQ resources you find useful, so we can share them on the TIO Facebook page. I hope you find the resources listed above helpful, and I hope you can incorporate them based on the needs of your own faith community.