In recent months, LGBT issues have been at the center of religious dialogue. The Episcopal Church just officially adopted a blessing rite for the weddings of gay and lesbian couples and added gender identity to their non-discrimination policy for laity and clergy. The Presbyterian Church (USA) just narrowly voted down marriage equality within Church policy. Mormons, as well as other denominations, turned up to walk in multiple Pride parades last month. United Methodists in several states have pledged to welcome and affirm LGBT members, despite official Church policy.
Yet, these news stories may still seem a bit distant for people who still feel uncomfortable with LGBT people and topics. In October 2012, a new photography exhibit titled WE HAVE FAITH : LGBT Clergy and People of Faith Speak Out, is intended to change that. Beautiful and honest photos of bold trailblazers with their loved ones, with text from personal interviews, shine a light on the role of faith in the fight for equality. From Muslim to Mormon, Baptist to Pentecostal, these religious leaders allow audiences to put faces and names to LGBT people of faith. The exhibit helps bring the stories of affirmation and welcome to people everywhere.
The importance of exhibits like WE HAVE FAITH is that LGBT and affirming clergy are underrepresented in mainstream media. This spring, GLAAD released, ‘Missing Voices: A study of religious voices in mainstream media reports about LGBT equality,’ which showed that most religious spokespeople on LGBT issues come from traditions with formalized opposition to LGBT equality. Rarely do people see real, faithful, and hard-working clergy who identify as LGBT.
WE HAVE FAITH was created by journalist Peggy Gillespie and photographer Gigi Kaeser of Family Diversity Projects (FDP) - the same team that created the award-winning traveling exhibits, Love Makes a Family: Portraits of LGBT People and their Families, In Our Family: Portraits of All Kinds of Families, and Pioneering Voices: Portraits of Transgender People. All of their exhibits combat bullying and portray the deep beauty of the wide range of human diversity. Their mission is to make the world a safer place for all people.
WE HAVE FAITH is available to be displayed in houses of worship, colleges, seminaries, conferences, or other community venues. The exhibit fosters meaningful dialogue, challenges homophobia and transphobia, and supports the movement for equality and inclusion of LGBT people in communities of faith. As of now, the exhibit will be launched in five cities: District of Columbia, New York City, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.
GLAAD applauds the local outreach provided by efforts such as Family Diversity Projects and is co-sponsoring WE HAVE FAITH. For more information or to bring WE HAVE FAITH to your community, GLAAD encourages interested parties to contact Family Diversity Projects or visit the website.