Tag Archives: Gay Rights

Religion vs. LGBTQ (still)

For those of you that have evolved in your thinking and those of you that accept the LGBTQ community for what it is, without judgement and without prejudice, you may find the actions I witnessed today unbelievable and ignorant.

I believe many of us naively thought once the supreme court of the United States confirmed that people who identify as LGBTQ deserved the same rights as any other American our fight was over. Sure there will always be people that don’t care for us…but they won’t be able to treat us as if we are not equal.

Silly us. Though we have made great strides and though we are now afforded many of the same rights as others, there are still plenty of people in our country that believe who we are and how we live is “sinful” and “wrong.” The same people will continue to fight against any advance we make socially, politically and religiously.

Today I was reminded of this.

I attended a conference for people that work with the senior population. Organized by Tarrant Area Gerontological Society. The majority of the event planners and attendees were social workers. When a group of social workers get together you know most of the conversations will be inclusive, progressive and tilt to the left. Our conferences tend to focus on ways to assure the people we serve are given the tools they need to function in the world.

Rarely do we find ourselves having to confront prejudice during a conference. Today that changed. Our conference was held at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Apparently they took issue with the fact that the Coalition for Aging LGBT paid to have a vender booth and would be presenting one of the educational sessions. The seminary refused to allow the organization to have a booth. They actually went to the board of directors of TAGS and told them the booth must be dismantled. It is my understanding that when the group attempted to challenge the seminary’s decision they were told if they put the booth back up they would not be provided a microphone for the presentation.

This really happened.

I am happy to say the TAGS board members were just as upset as the rest of us. I was told by several of the board members they would never rent this space again for any activity. The Coalition for Aging LGBT did dismantle the booth, but they maintained a presence at the conference throughout the day and other vender booths voluntarily displayed the Coalition’s educational material. The coalition also went through with their presentation with grace, class and dignity.

Gay History

This evening I had the opportunity to hear stories from people that lived through a time of fear, humiliation and discrimination in American history. The people sharing their stories are part of the LGBTQ community and lived during the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

These women were professionals that constantly feared for their jobs.
The only place for many gays to socialize during that era were bars. But the bars were not safe. The local newspaper would list license plate numbers of the cars parked near a gay bar. The women tonight also spoke of the raids that would occur at the bars. People could be arrested for dancing if the bar didn’t have a “dancing permit.” If the police walked in and all the people at one table were the same gender they could be arrested. They could also be arrested for vagrancy if they didn’t have cash in their pocket.

The most horrifying story I heard was about a building that housed a Metropolitan Community Church downstairs and a gay bar upstairs. Sunday after church the members gathered upstairs in the bar for a covered-dish luncheon. The building was torched and everyone attending died in the fire.

Many brave men and women have lived through dangerous and frightful times.
Last summer the United States Supreme Court handed down a motion giving individuals in the LGBTQ community the right to marry.
We have come a long way from the era discussed tonight but the dance of two steps forward one step back continues.

Today we are fighting to use public bathrooms in peace, without judgement. Today there are still pastors preaching hatred of gays from the pulpit. Today people are still bullied for being different. But thanks to the drag queens that fought back at Stonewall, the individuals brave enough to walk in the early pride parades and the community that took care of itself during the AIDS crisis when everyone else turned their backs, we are better off.
I am grateful for those that blazed the trail, those that stood up for their friends that shivered in the closet and those that fought back against the hate.