As we all wait for this weekend's events to unfold in Washington, from the National Equality March to the President speaking at the HRC dinner, there are many mixed feelings. Will people show up? What will the President say? How will the media make sense of all the different and often conflicting voices in our community?
As I get ready for the weekend - and as someone who will be at the dinner and the march - I hope that all of us can keep one thing in mind: what we really are up against as we fight for full and equal treatment under the law.
You see, the goals are pretty much the same, it's the way to get there that the we don't agree on. That said, we still need to address what Mitchell Gold calls the "pink elephant in the room." Religon based bigotry. I am proud to be working with his group, Faith in America, and carrying this sign as we approach the capitol building on Sunday.
Maybe it is because I was pre-med before I changed careers and became a volunteer activist, then one of the lucky few who were able to become paid activists in the late 90's that makes me see our obstacles the way I do.
The truth is that we have a disease. That disease is homophobia (and biphobia and transphobia and sexism, all intertwined). What is the primary cause of these horrific and harmful diseases? You guessed it - religious based bigotry, even when dressed up with a kinder, gentler rhetoric, it is still just that. History has shown time and time again that using religion to justify hate is soo unoriginal. Slavery, subordination of women, etc, etc, etc. have all been put in the dustbin after people confronted the religious teachings used to justify them.
We all know this but for many reasons it has not been addressed adequately in our community and has held back progress. The loss of Prop. 8 in California is a recent excellent example. as someone who worked in a movement organization for many years - and interacted with many more - the level of hostility against religion was palpable. It is only in the past few years that our organizations that do political work have recognized the need for faith-based activism, but there is a long way to go.
Organizations like MCC and CBST have created safe havens for LGBT people of diverse faiths, but those interacting with the politicians who a) fall back on their religious beliefs to justify their actions or b) are just plain scared of the religious extremists need to do more. And those of us who are LGBT people of faith - and some surveys have show that number to be a clear majority of us - need to speak up.
I am excited about the weekend - I hope it is the start of a bigger conversation about that pink elephant in the room. We all have a role to play - inside, outside, well-off, not as well off, young or not - my hope is that we can come together and agree one some things, argue about other and (for those of you not from DC) go home energized to do more.
If you want to join us and carry a sign that bears a message of truth and power, leave a comment below. We would love to have you with us.