Today is National Coming Out Day.
(It's also Jon Richardson's birthday. Happy Birthday, Jon!)
It's the day before the 11th Anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998) – which, in my mind and heart, make the observance of National Coming Out Day even more important.
There are some wonderful resources available to us – now – that help us to enter into conversations about what it means to be gay and what it means to have LGBT people in our communities and lives of faith.
There are many, thanks be to God and the persistence of some of the most persistent members of God's Rainbow Tribe. Perhaps you will add your own.
Here are just a few of my favorites:
Here you will find the THEOLOGY STATEMENT (Yes, one has beendone. By Episcopalians. Who are LGBT. And, theologians.), General Convention 2006 Resources as well as VOICES OF WITNESS – the outstanding video about how churches are enriched by GLBT presence and voices and ministry. You'll also find CLAIMING THE BLESSING 101 which includes, among other things, resources for Liturgical Rites of Blessing Covenants.
This is, of course, the web page of IntegrityUSA, where you will find lots – TONS – of resources, including the newly released DVD of the Triennial Integrity Eucharist 2009, Anaheim. The excellence of the liturgy and music were surpassed only by the quality of the preacher.
You can also find the inspirational and informative VOICES OF WITNESS AFRICA
http://www.voicesofwitness.org/africa/pages/filmmakers.html which was viewed at Lambeth 2008 and General Convention 2009
The Oasis, Diocese of Newark, also has some rich resources, including the Diocesan Statement on Civil Unions, a National List of Welcoming Congregations, Some Tips on Being a Welcoming Congregation, the State of New Jersey Blue Ribbon Report on Why Civil Unions won't provide all of the benefits of Marriage and some Liturgical Rites of
Blessing Covenants in English and Spanish.
I do believe their congregational series ALL LOVE IS OF GOD is still available in limited quantities. Write to them to find out. It is a bit dated (embarrassingly enough, it was written in the days before we added "B" and "T" to our alphabet soup of a Rainbow Tribe) but can be easily modified. It is designed to promote conversation
about sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular.
Oasis California also has lots of resources, none the least of which is a wonderful section on Liturgical Rites of Blessing Covenants.
5. Some other wonderful videos:
Conversations: Minister and Congregant: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFXCM5ZqTjg
Conversations: A Teacher and A Student http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X4_BXpTOWqU
Conversations: Two Soldiers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rVdEfoVn_Q
31 Days of 31 LGBT Leaders: href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbNvJAFfZvA>
which includes two of my personal favorites: Ruth Ellis and the Rev'd Dr. Pauli Murray – the first Black woman to be ordained Priest in The Episcopal Church.
Don't miss the last minute or so of this wonderful 4 minute video for "Greeting Card Emergency: Coming Out Cards". The last card was developed by the artist to thank his friends for coming out.
The outside of the card reads, "Your courage has made me a better straight person." Inside, the card reads: "Your example has made the world a better place. Thank you for coming out."
You have to hear the end of the story – about his relationship with Jesus and others. Bring a few tissues.
Finally: if you have not seen the HBO Special "OUTRAGE: Do Ask. Do Tell", please do yourself a favor and watch it. If you don't have HBO, call a friend who does and watch it together.
Here's a synopsis from the web page:
An official selection of the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival, *OUTRAGE* investigates the hidden lives of some of the country's most powerful policymakers – from now-retired Idaho Senator Larry Craig, to former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevy – and examines how these and other politicians have inflicted damage on millions of Americans by opposing gay rights. Equally disturbing, the film explores the mainstream media's complicity in keeping those secrets, despite the growing efforts to "out" them by gay rights organizations and bloggers.The quote of the film goes to Barney Frank who says, "Everyone has the right to privacy. No one has the right to hypocrisy."
The truth is that when an LGBT person ‘comes out' to the Truth, to Honesty and to Love about himself, s/he sets off a process wherein so-called ‘straight' people must do the same. I do believe our Beloved Church is in its own institutional version of ‘coming out'.
No more lies. No more hypocrisy. No more violence – physical or spiritual or biblical. No more oppressors. No more victims. No more. No more.
It's a bold, courageous step, but I do believe the angels have been – are – and will be – there to bear us up.
In the Epistle appointed for tomorrow (Hebrews 4:12-16 RCL) we hear:
"The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render account.... Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."I hope this has been helpful to you.