This month, families around the country will be gathering together for the holidays. But in far too many cases, LGBT family members are often made to feel that there is no place for them at the table. That’s why Faith in America has launched Faith and Equality, a website with resources to help combat depression and alienation, especially among LGBT youth this time of year.
“Christmas celebrations are for many a time of togetherness, a time for family, and a time to focus on the spiritual significance of the holiday,” says Brent Childers, founder and executive director of Faith in America. ”But for the LGBT youth in those homes, feelings of joy and peace are replaced with sorrow and anxiety because of the stigma and rejection that is present. The mindset that faith and equality are opposing forces is most often responsible for inflicting that type of harm, whether consciously or not.”
Among the testimonials and stories featured on website is that of Jane Clementi, mother of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide in the fall of 2010. “Our family has come to understand just how devastating it can be when a young person feels that society, their peers, and others place a stamp of rejection and shame on their very being,” she says. “Sadly, our own church promoted the notion that a gay or lesbian person is broken and separated from God solely because of their God-given sexual orientation … I can only hope today that my son knew in his heart that my own personal religious beliefs could never prevent my full and complete affirmation of such a gift.”
The Rabbi Fred Guttman of Temple Emanuel in Greensboro, N.C., also talks about his congregation’s welcoming approach to the LGBT community, as well as gay-positive interpretations of religious scripture.