Since being “let go of” from my Christian band due to my sexuality, I’ve taken advantage of the many things the gay community has to offer. I’ve discovered that here in Nashville, those opportunities are rich, indeed. Allow me to recap my experiences with three incredible organizations.
First off, you’ve probably heard of PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). I first heard of it about 5 years ago. However, I never attended a meeting because I assumed it was just for families and friends of LGBT’s (hence the name). I was recently introduced to the President of the Nashville chapter, Kathy Halbrooks. She is attending the same “This I Know” Bible Study that I am. We began chatting a bit, and she informed me that it’s not just straight people that attend PFLAG meetings. It’s also a place for LGBT’s who are seeking support, or looking for community.
So last night, I attended my first meeting. It was held at the Oasis Center downtown. There were less than 20 people there (small crowd due to weather). The chairs were arranged in a big circle. It looked the way I imagined an AA meeting would look. I wondered if we would go around the circle, each at a time stating our “sickness”. “Hi. My name is Mandy, and I’m a lesbian.” Then they would all chime in, “Hi, Mandy”, and we would proceed to discuss our stories and explore treatment options for our maladies. Of course, it didn’t go anything like that. Free to be exactly who we were, our sexuality was actually (*gasp*) celebrated. As you can imagine, this was an overwhelming experience for me. I felt as though I belonged. The profoundness of that fact is still resonating with me.
If you are a parent, family member, or a friend of an LGBT who needs more information, go to your nearest PFLAG chapter. This organization has the resources you need to begin your education. Homosexuality is a topic that is often approached with fear. That fear stems from the unknown. Don’t be afraid to talk about homosexuality. You will likely meet many others who can empathize with your situation.
If you are an LGBT, go! Look up your local PFLAG chapter, find out when the next meeting is being held, and make plans to attend. You won’t be sorry.
Human Rights Campaign:
We’ve all heard of HRC, and the many amazing ways they fight for the rights and liberties of the LGBT community. Did you know that the HRC also has a Religion and Faith program? I recently attended a faith and familiy discussion panel hosted by the HRC in Nashville; it was a stop on their “Road to Equality Bus Tour”. It was a great way to kindle conversations about faith and sexuality.
It’s so important to close the gap between our places of worship and the LGBT community. Education is the key, and HRC is a great place to start!
“This I Know” Bible Study:
You may have read my previous blog post regarding this study. But it’s so amazing, it’s definitely worth another mention here. The “This I Know” Bible Study is a multi-week companion guide to the provocative documentary “For The Bible Tells Me So”. This study is a product of the Reconciling Ministries Network, affiliated with the United Methodist Church. There is a never-ending debate going on in our churches today regarding the Bible, and what it really says about homosexuality. This study does way more than scratch the surface. It delves deep into the theological and cultural backgrounds of the Scriptures, and opens the floor to respectful, in-depth discussion.
This is a compelling tool that can be used to allow small church groups to openly discuss a previously taboo subject. It doesn’t tell individuals what to think. It simply presents the facts, and allows each person to draw their own conclusions. In a perfect world, each congregation would make this study a requirement!
The study here in Nashville is such a success, there are plans to continue on with other sessions once this one has ended. My group is led by Pastor Pam Hawkins, Minister of Discipleship at the Belmont United Methodist Church. She is an incredible woman of God who is chasing her calling. If you live in the Nashville area, I highly recommend getting details about attending this group. If you live elsewhere, encourage a local church to begin this study in your community.
If you are a Christian who is struggling to harmonize your faith and sexuality, please take advantage of organizations such as these. No matter how isolated you feel, know that you’re not alone. It can feel so devastating at times, but be encouraged! You have an adopted family who loves you. You just have to seek them out.