It is really, really, REALLY important that you do this survey and mention the needs of GLBT people of faith.
In September 2008, a large number of Sydney based GLBT organisations came together to hold round-table discussion. The goal of this event was to discuss our aspirations for the GLBT community in the year 2020, and come up with concrete ways that we could all work together to help achieve them.
I REQUESTED TO BE A PART OF THE PROCESS BUT THE NEEDS OF A GROWING NUMBER OF GLBT PEOPLE WERE IGNORED.
NOW, you have a chance to help prioritise key issues, and nominate additional ideas for inclusion in future forums.
PLEASE complete the 5 minute online survey.
QUESTION 15 IS THE REALLY IMPORTANT ONE.
Below is what I said…….PLEASE SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN YOUR OWN WORDS IN THIS SECTION AS WELL and pass this on to other relevant people.
I have the privileged position of being the first contact point for 100’s of GLBT people from faith and religious backgrounds. Especially those experiencing faith/sexuality conflict. From the enormous amount of emails I receive and also reading ACON’s strategic plan it is obvious that this is the highest risk group in our community but often, because of the anti-religious feeling, this great need is being ignored. As far as I know we weren’t represented at the original summit although I requested it.
GLBT people from faith and religious backgrounds are the highest risk of
1. Suicide (almost every email mentions either thoughts of or attempts to suicide)
2. Mental health issues (the dissonance cause by the perceived conflict of faith and sexuality causes stress and depression)
3. HIV & STI infection (most people from church backgrounds don’t have access to safe sex education and therefore if sexually active are at higher risk)
4. Self destructive behaviours (when people are rejected from or leave their religious background they are left with feelings of failure and shame. Poor self image leads to unhealthy behaviours. Some believe they will go to hell for accepting their homosexuality and this belief plays out in high risk activities – a slow form of suicide.)
5. Obsessive behaviours and addictions. (It’s not uncommon for someone who has suppressed or denied their sexual orientation to develop unhealthy behaviours which get totally out of control and causes great stress)
6. Discrimination. (GLBT people of faith often experience discrimination within their own GLBT community)
For most people from faith backgrounds, accepting that you are gay or lesbian means you have to leave the church and the entire social network is lost. It was a strong network, often like family and your life was filled with church activities and service. Most people are left with a feeling of purposelessness. You either feel lost or begin to conform to what is perceived as the ‘gay lifestyle’ with excesses in sexual activity and substance abuse. Many have resolved the perceived conflict of their faith and sexuality and want to maintain a high level of morality. Supportive, safe spaces need to be created. People come out the closet about their sexuality and go into the closet about their faith and find it difficult to connect.
In many countries around the world the needs of GLBT people of faith and religion are recognised. For example the Human Rights Campaign in Washington has a Faith & Religion Department with a full time staff of 5 plus interns. GLAAD also has designated a person, Ann Craig, whose sole responsibility is speaking out about these issues, creating dialogue within and outside the community and monitoring anti-gay religious activities. I’ve been to both organisations and the work they do is impressive to say the least.
My question is…..how much longer will we ignore the specific needs of this growing group within our community?