Raised in Pennsylvania, I grew up in the black church. My father was a religious leader in the community, and my sister is a pastor. I went to church every Sunday and sang in the choir. But for all that the church gave me — for all that it represented belonging, love and community — it also shut its doors to me as a gay person. That experience left me with the lifelong desire to explore the power of religion to transform lives or destroy them.
[My mother] took me to meet with a Christian minister who told me that God loves all people, queer and straight, and that I didn’t need to change. This moment changed my life forever, and set me on the course toward the work that I do now as an atheist-interfaith activist. My experiences of feeling isolated and misunderstood inform my conviction that it is imperative to work for a world where people of all sexual orientations, and all different faiths and beliefs, understand one another better—a society where all people can live openly and be who they are without fear.
Rev. Luis Leon's closing prayer at President Obama's inauguration Monday was a strong call for fighting prejudice and "fear of those different than us" — and a sign of the success of the LGBT rights movement over the course of Obama's first term.
The Presidential Inauguration Committee is also including more LGBT and supportive faith leaders elsewhere in the inauguration festivities. Tuesday morning's interfaith prayer service at the National Cathedral will include Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, moderator and international leader of the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC), a denomination founded 45 years ago as a church open to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
A British Evangelical minister is calling on Christians to support the gay community, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, instead of promoting a policy of "condemn and exclude."