Andy and I have been deeply involved with and heavily invested in the passage of the Marriage Act in New York. Our ministry in community has reached out from within the neighborhood into city wide efforts to create loving and justice-seeking actions. And today we celebrate with all those who are making their covenants legal, renewing their promises and/or enlarging the scope of the marriage rite. Our gift to you who are looking for just the right words to express love and care for each other is the Marriage Service/Covenant Renewal Service we performed with friends.   (more…)

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender partners and their families are categorically denied full engagement in the communities in which they live, all in the name of religious “morality,” while the heart and essence of the source of life and love upon which religion is derived remains ever present ready to break through the oppressor’s blindness and let the captives go free.  In naming and claiming the spirituality that is inherent in our lives and written on our hearts, we are enthused to love ourselves and live in care of neighbor as self.  The Spirituality Training PowerPoint that follows was worked out during three workshops with LGBTQ participants.

The culture in which we live is undergirded by a socialized religion granting heterosexual couples’s status in the way of financial, legal, psychological and spiritual supports denied gay and lesbian relationships.  Those persons who vary from the “moral” norms of sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, established in the same discriminatory manner by the dominant minority, are denied the safeguards that protect their full rights, as well.

Leaders in our nation will sometimes define social practices as “moral,” and therefore “acceptable,” based on dominant religious biases irrespective of the reality of the diversity of relationships lived in community. Heterosexual coupling has been legally identified as meriting “moral” status with the entitlements that go along with it, while discrimination against other relationships is sanctioned. The burden of proof that relationships other than heterosexual coupling are “moral” is placed on the community in a system where the leaders refuse to recognize the “acceptable” existence of diverse relationships. There is no legitimate place allowed for justice in this system. Blindness to the diversity of relationships in community creates an unjust living environment resulting in the denial of civil rights, inequality, oppression, and strife in the name of “morality.”

Practicing Safe Spirituality  –  PowerPoint presentation

Jenna and Andy, along with dozens more, are proud to have been volunteers at the Say It Loud celebration in Albany, NY. Say It Loud is actually a weekend observation of pride for LGBT People of Color, distinct from but kicking off the week long Albany Gay Pride event. Over three days, LGBT People of color, their friends and allies came together in unity to celebrate and recognize this vibrant community within the Capital region of New York State.

We hope, for this community that is historically estranged from their churches of origin, the presence of two ministers serving in very basic ways was at least a little healing.

 In a 2009 study, 60% of LGBT adults described faith as “very important” in their lives. However, many LGBT adults have a shared history of spiritual disillusionment due to discrimination at the hands of religious communities and leaders. If faith is part of what keeps you healthy, begin the process of reconnecting with your spirituality by seeking out an LGBT religious community or affirming congregation in your area.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. Of particular interest might be the section on obtaining the services of culturally-competent health providers – it explains why special attention is needed for  LGBTQ healthcare in the first place.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me. CWAC’s anti-heterosexist, anti-racist stand for spiritual justice might just provide the safe place you’re looking for.

THOUGHTS FROM THE PARTICULAR ….

 We live and work in the reality of everyday struggle and celebration. Life on our street is in touch with people wondering how we will pay our bills, especially the utilities. We wonder if we can get employment before we fall too far behind in debt. Jobs are hard to find; even harder is keeping the car repaired. The on street parking is an altogether different challenge with every-other-day restrictions dedicated to the 9:00 o’clock hour. A lot of the time we spend our physical energy on transportation. Our homes belong to landlords many of whom are slow or even unresponsive to our requests, quite like the police when we call about an altercation. And the density of families and neighbors living close together brings relationship issues through the walls with easy flow to the street.

It might be easiest just to ignore the neighbors for pseudo privacy, a way to focus attention on my own issues. I may dress up and leave my street – get miles away – leaving the problems of the day behind for a moment, possibly to go worship. But more easily I can shut my door, turn up my noise and drown out the disappointments, fears of failure; my hopes exhausted just like my body by too much exercise in reaching for opportunities just beyond my grasp. (more…)

 LGBT people come in all ages…and our community’s seniors are an important part of who we are, but services for them are often lacking. 

Around 75% of LGBT seniors live alone, compared to 33% of their straight neighbors. Unlike heterosexual elders, 4 out of 5 of whom have children, 90% of LGBT seniors have no children. When 40% of straight seniors have no life partner, that figure jumps to 80% for LGBT. Add to that the fact that 50% of LGBT seniors do not feel welcome at senior centers when they are open about their sexuality, and it becomes easy to see why senior LGBT health outcomes are so negatively affected by isolation and loneliness.

Find a group for LGBT seniors in your area or a program that serves them and donate your time, money and/or support.

For more information on LGBTQ health issues visit Rainbow Access Initiative and choose from the menu options on the left side. In particular, the tap for “Aging Issues” may be eye-opening.

For more information on spititual health for LGBTQ visit CWAC’s website or click on the “email us” button and contact me

In Our Own Voices, Inc., the Harm Reduction Coalition, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the Mocha Project, along with the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute will host

“Unity Through Diversity: New York State Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People of Color Health Summit”

at the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center

in Albany, New York on October 15-18, 2009.

Over 150 scholars, administrators, activists and students are expected to gather for this important event to reflect on the current status of health and wellness, substance abuse, spirituality and political advocacy within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People of Color (LGBT POC) community. The Summit will feature presentations, workshops, and panel discussions on the importance of meaningful involvement of LGBT POC and vulnerable subpopulations in our communities in policy development and implementation, physical and mental health issues, and on innovative and/or effective interventions and research that address and educate people about the health and well-being of LGBT POC in New York State.

Rev Jenna Zirbel, under the auspices of the Church Within A Church Movement, has submitted two abstracts for consideration. The first, “Everyday Sacred in Unity in Diversity”, is a continuation of last year’s workshop. The goal is to find ways in which LGBT, especially POC, can recognize fulfilling and inspiring spirituality in their faiths of origin and reconstruct spiritual practices in their daily lives lived in the presence of the divine. The second, “The Trevor Project – preventing suicide 24/7”, is to facilitate discussion about young LGBTQ suicide rates and tools available to combat it.

More information can be found at http://www.unitythroughdiversity.com/