As the date of the Gay Games opening ceremony approaches, Cleveland-based United Church of Christ decided to use the event as an opportunity to spread the message about love, Christ and unity. The United Church of Christ became the first religious denomination as major sponsor of Gay Games.
The younger generation of Americans has been rejecting what they perceive as an anti-LGBT attitude from Christian churches. As young Americans become more and more accepting and supportive of the LGBT community, their views do not align with the conservative and anti-LGBT that uses Christian language to discriminate. In fact, a study conducted in mid-2000s has found that "overwhelmingly negative views" of Christians by many millennials, tied closely to the faith's perceived anti-LGBT bias. Now through sponsoring the Gay Games in Ohio, the Church makes a statement that Christ loves all.
"So when Cleveland, our hometown, was selected to host this summer's international Gay Games, leaders within the United Church of Christ knew instantly that we had a responsibility, not only as a good corporate citizen, but also as a prominent national religious organization, to do all we could in support, because the lives of LGBT people and their families are at stake. That's the Christian message of faith, equality and justice that we want to emanate from our visible and vocal endorsement" said Rev. J. Bennett Guess, the Executive Minister.
The United Church of Christ, has more than 5,100 churches in all 50 states and it has been working for LGBT civil rights for more than 40 years. In 1972, the United Church of Christ ordained a first openly gay pastor.
"Almost every day, I hear the pain and I see the antipathy that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people – and their families and friends – have for a Christian faith that they view not only as unaccepting, but actively damaging, even dangerous. So when I'm introduced to others as clergy, I often experience the less-than-enthusiastic feedback. And, as a proud gay man, I totally understand why" said Rev. J. Bennett Guess
GLAAD is also a partner with the Gay Games.Through the partnership, GLAAD is expanding its involvement in the equality movement in sports hoping to inspire leagues to support LGBT athletes. The Gay Games is an international sporting and cultural event held every four years since 1982. This year the games presented by the Cleveland Foundation will take place August 9-16, 2014, in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. As many as10, 000 people from more than 60 countries are expected in participate in 35 sporting events. The games offer a sense of inclusiveness as they are open to anyone 18 years or older. Around 10% of participants each year are non-LGBT.
The Gay Games is an excellent way of embracing the LGBT community while competing in a variety of sporting events. It is also a great way to embrace LGBT athletes following the Winter Olympic Games help in Sochi where LGBT individuals face criminal charges. The Gay Games has even purchased an ad to run in Ohio during the Olympic Games. If you want to view a sporting event that not only includes, but celebrates people of all sexual orientations and gender identiteis, both on and off the field, then check out the video below, and share it with your friends.