Pathways to power was the main topic of discussion at the “Empowering Action for the Common Good: Affirming Faith Forum” at the LGBT Center of Raleigh on Friday, March 23, at 6:30 pm. The goal to work for the common good extends to and beyond the vote on May 8th. The forum generated more ideas on how to join with others in improving relationships in the community while working to defeat the proposed amendment to the state constitution.   

Discussion about how some of the participants have acted in organized efforts to care for them and for others sparked interest. Community actions reported at the forum included work with organized campaigns solely focused against the proposed amendment and campaigns focused more broadly on building community. Engaging in and expanding these efforts to act for the common good included being a part of empowering relationships.

Caution is reasonable in not going too far, extending one’s self beyond what is doable or losing essential supports.  A forum participant reported not being involved in advocacy for the LGBTQ community. The participant was hesitant to act for fear of disclosing too much personal information about their own same gender loving sexual orientation. Losing the support of family and friends, neighbors or colleagues was a serious concern. Lost connection to important relationships weakens relational power. It weakens connection to people who are caring and loving, an important resource for empowerment to act.  Plans can be developed for how other supports can be used to keep and rebuild connections, hopefully before a relationship is harmfully disrupted. Of course, some opportunities for action in advocacy do not require disclosure, such as phone backing and data entry, for example.

Another participant spoke about the repercussions of their disclosure of being same gender loving, and of the liberation that came through that disclosure. They found support strengthened in some venues bringing discovery of new resources even though affirmation was shut down in others. Their action required disclosure which ultimately resulted in strengthening relational power and encouraging further action for good in their life. They continue to work for the health and wellbeing of the community in which they live, work and play, within the context of a diversity of beliefs

The common ground, the highest common denominator, for the participants in the forum was the desire to improve their health and wellbeing, and that of their community. While ‘spirituality’ may not be a word all forum participants embrace, all agreed on the need for respect and acceptance of diversity in every encounter.

The forum discussion concluded that acting to encourage people to live into their fullest potential is good for the community.  Taking responsibility to act appeared to empower people to consider what is meaningful in their lives.  Repeatedly participants reported how what they valued in their lives they were able to affirm in their actions.  Acting for the common good included encouraging others to kindly be true to themselves.

Affirming Faith Forums are held every fourth Friday at the LGBT Center of Raleigh from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Everyone is welcome. Please visit www.lgbtcenterofraleigh.com for more information.