For the parents of faith, there perhaps isn't anything more important than the nourishment of that faith, particularly in the lives of their children.
That is equally true for the young person, who has been reared in a home where the importance of their spiritual life has been instilled and continues to be a vital part of their lives as well as the parents and family. Continue reading.
Unfortunately, many young people who are gay or lesbian or who may be processing a same-gender orientation are burdened with the very traumatic thought that their continued spiritual journey may no longer be an option – as so many feel their spiritual family and community will no longer accept them.
That is truly an oppressive thought for the young person who has been reared to cherish and uphold that spiritual walk.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) in the following excerpt from its web site addresses why it means so much to LGBT individuals, especially youth and families, to have an affirming church:
Too many LGBT people and their families live with the pain of having believed that “everyone” meant them, only to discover otherwise.
No one should have to guess about the “boundaries of inclusion” of a congregation or other ministry.
A clear welcome matters to LGBT adults who, seeking to share their faith and gifts with the church, often wonder if they will meet with silence or condemnation if they are “out” in church.
It matters to LGBT youth who need the guidance of faith communities as they question and establish their understandings of sexuality, spirituality, and relationships, but fear the same disapproval of their lives or dismissal of their gifts.
It matters to families which too often hide the fact that they have LGBT children or other relatives.
Fearing the indifference or rejection of their church, they are cut off from support and sharing which would enrich them and their congregation. It matters to LGBT clergy who often feel that to serve the church they must hide their true selves and lives.
It matters to all Christians who believe that God’s affirmation of the gifts of loving relationships and sexuality are not restricted to those who are heterosexual, and who look to their church to witness to God’s inclusive love and help them to better understand and live it.
Uplifting voices in a powerful and inspirational way
The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has been performing and enriching the lives of audience members since its inception in 1978. The impact was profound as the first audiences witnessed the impossible – 150 openly gay men singing on stage, breaking the silence of hate, and changing the world forever.
In 1981, the chorus embarked on a national tour with stops in Seattle, Dallas and New York. The concerts inspired hundreds to come out, share their stories, and even start their own gay choruses. SFGMC had sparked a musical revolution that resulted in the formation of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses – or GALA Choruses – a global organization which today includes more than 200 groups and over 10,000 members.
Written and performed by the 275 members of the chorus, the original composition is a labor of intense love and passion. Composer Stephen Schwartz’s artistry weaves beautiful music with gripping and hopeful lyrics.
The making of the video would not have been possible without the tremendous work of a corps of volunteers who donated hundreds of hours of their time. The resulting video is a magnificent message of hope for anyone that has ever been in a place of hopelessness - particularly teens that are or have been in the dark well of despair.
Inspired by "Testimony," many SFGMC members started an initiative to reach out to their former high schools. Over fifty chorus members will purchase extra copies of the DVD and send them to their high school alma maters, so that those who are discovering their own identities now as teens, can do so with greater freedom and hope.
“In four decades of conducting and commissioning new choral works, ‘Testimony’ is one of the most profound works of choral art I have ever experienced," said Dr. Tim Seelig, artistic director and conductor of the chorus, in a news release earlier this year.
Visit the SFGMC to purchase the DVD.
Anyone and Everyone
Connected by having a son or daughter who is gay, parents across the country discuss their experiences in the documentary Anyone and Everyone. In it, filmmaker Susan Polis Schutz depicts families from all walks of life. Individuals from such diverse backgrounds as Japanese, Bolivian, and Cherokee, as well as from various religious denominations such as Mormon, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Hindu, and Southern Baptist, share intimate accounts of how their children revealed their sexual orientation and discuss their responses.
The parents also talk about struggling with the pain of their sons and daughters dealing with not being accepted by relatives or friends, and being ostracized by religious congregations.
"It was so evil and so bad that we almost couldn’t talk about it... You just had the idea it was so terrible that it was unspeakable," said a Mormon mother in the film.
"Having heard all these awful things and what homosexuality was and then having a member of your family, a person that you have seen, a child that you have seen since the child was born, a person that was absolutely wholesome, good, kind, gentle and that put together with the word lesbian didn’t add up," said a Hispanic mother.
This film is especially important since up to 26% of gay teens who come out to their parents or guardians are told they must leave home. Of the approximately 1.6 million homeless American youth, 20-40% identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. Nearly 40% of LGBT (GLBT) students report being physically harassed. In a 2001 Department of Health study of youth in Massachusetts, about 40 percent of gay and lesbian students attempted suicide, compared to about 10 percent of their heterosexual peers.
The film also depicts meetings of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) where people get support and help.