Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Faith Forum Focuses on LGBT Issues

This article shared 2833 times since Tue Aug 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Rabbi Joshua Lesser, Larry Yang and Imam Dayiee Abdullah. Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and the Shower of Stoles. From the choral event. Photos by Andrew Davis and Suzanne Kraus

By Andrew Davis

Open-mindedness was just one of the many issues delved into at the 'Faith and Fairness' town meeting, which took place at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Randolph, on July 16.

The panel that examined LGBT issues as they relate to religion was a diverse and formidable one. Among the participants were the Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, who is president of Chicago Theological Seminary; Imam Dayiee Abdullah, the moderator for the Muslim Gay Men Discussion Group; Larry Yang, an ordained monk who leads Buddhist meditation retreats for LGBTQ communities, among others; and Rabbi Joshua Lesser, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bet Haverim. The event was moderated by Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign, which sponsored the event.

Thistlethwaite focused on the Bible. 'Is it a book of rules that says 'no, no, no'—or is it the ultimate 'yes' to God and humanity? ... It is God's 'yes' to us, and we profane that sacred 'yes' by saying 'no.'' She added that 'this LGBT [ -centered ] movement is a spiritual one that moves through our society. ... Finding the strength within yourself is the work of the spirit. In addition, she contended that 'the rulebook is a misreading of the Bible.'

Among other things, Abdullah agreed with the media's presentation that many Muslims do not truly understand their faith, but added that few actually discuss the issue of faith. Moreover, he stated the goal of the Muslim faith should be peace, not 'hating other people.'

Yang mentioned that a newspaper asked him what seemed like a simple question: 'Why is it important for communities of faith to embrace lesbians and gays?' After answering, he found the issue to be troubling at first but then realize that faith-based communities do include the LGBT community. 'However, if you have to ask [ that question ] , my answer would be for the same reason it's important [ for ] communities of faith to embrace anyone who lives a life of narrow-minded, judgmental hatred,' he added. 'Spiritual practice and spiritual faith fill a deep human need to reach for and experience something greater than one's limited experience. All spiritual traditions ... speak toward aspirations of kindness, compassion, non-harm and love for all beings—including beings who give us difficulty and even those who hate us.'

Lesser embraced the fact that, as a child, he was allowed to question and doubt—'and that didn't mean that faith couldn't exist,' he said. He also talked about how he was a perpetually angry individual—but he realized that 'the whole range of human emotion can be tools in using [ his ] faith,' which allowed him to enter rabbinical school 'with a chip on his shoulder larger than [ him ] self,' which he said probably led to his foray into bodybuilding. However, he also added that arguing and even hating the text could lead to finding 'peace and calm within the text.' Additionally, he declared that 'folks who have been engaged in [ their ] faith for too long get caught on [ critics' ] playing field—and our tools don't always work on their playing field.'

A question-and-answer session followed the presentations. Then, attendees adjourned to an adjacent room where a rousing concert took place. Bishop Yvette Flounder spoke, and among the performers were singer Shirley Miller, IllumiNation Chorale, The Drum Divas and The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.

Also on display was the Shower of Stoles, a collection of more than 1,000 liturgical stoles and other holy items from LGBT individuals from 26 denominations in six countries. Each stole contains the story of a GLBT person who is active in the faith community.

This article shared 2833 times since Tue Aug 1, 2006
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.

Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.