Headlines in recent days have been filled with suicides and hate crimes set painfully alongside anti-gay statements by a top Mormon leader and New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. But signs of hope continue to spring up such as the hundreds of pro-LGBT Protestant faith leaders who attended the Believe Out Loud Power Summit, Oct.9-11, in Orlando where GLAAD provided media strategy training as part of a nine-hour track on media skills.
Media took note of faith leaders speaking out for inclusion as local TV news and Spanish Language media covered the Power Summit which was attended by almost 300 faith leaders. USA Today, which reaches millions of readers, closed their coverage of the horrific hate crimes in New York by reflecting on the moment of silence that Believe Out Loud participants shared for those who have been harmed and lost to bullying and rejection.
Randall Miller, senior program officer for faith work at the Haas Jr. Foundation, inspired participants with a sermon on the growing acceptance of LGBT people in society and faith traditions. Increasingly, people of faith are taking to heart the mandate to “Believe Out Loud” and speak up for equality.
Pro-LGBT faith voices were loud and clear when prominent Mormon leader , Boyd K. Packer, said that God did not create gay people. Thousands protested in the Salt Lake City plaza. The huge outcry caused Mormon officials to change some terminology on the speech posted online and to entirely eliminate the statement about God not creating gay people. Although the Mormon owned Deseret News defended Packer, Mormon leaders crafted a statement that condemned bullying and noted their own improved record on supporting equal housing and employment for LGBT people. But even though these are tangible improvements, the LDS view that being gay is a choice and a sin leaves young people vulnerable to rejection by their church, their family and their peers.
GLAAD’s work with Believe Out Loud faith leaders and many other traditions continues to amplify the voices of pro-LGBT faith leaders so that all people of faith understand how messages of rejection and judgment harm everyone.