HRC Blog

Faith, Family and Acceptance in Birmingham

Written by Rev. MacArthur H. Flournoy, Associate Director of the Religion and Faith Program

Faith, Family, and Acceptance was the topic of discussion for a panel and community discussion Saturday, October 21, 2011 hosted by the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  The panel and ensuing discussion was hosted by HRC's Religion and Faith Program, Equality Alabama and the Gay Straight Student Alliance at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.  The featured panelists that launched the spirited discussion were Rev. J.R. Finney, Senior pastor of Covenant Baptist Church, James Robinson, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth Services and Tyler Martin, a young gay man who shared his personal life experience of being asked to leave his biological family’s home at 17 after disclosing to his parents that he is a gay man.

Participants explored the intersections of sexual orientation, race, class, sexism and misogyny and the destructive theologies that interfere with families embracing their LGBT members. The role of the church was raised as a critical issue to be considered, either as a place of spiritual violence or liberation.  Drawing on the work of Dr. Caitlan Ryan’s Family Acceptance Project, I spoke to the critical role family (and faith) acceptance plays in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. A vibrant milieu of organizations attended the discussion such as GLBT Youth Services of Birmingham Alabama, Covenant Community Church, Pilgrim Community United Church of Christ, Southerners On New Ground (S.O.N.G.), Greater Birmingham Ministries and God’s House Ministries. The event concluded with a reception hosted by HRC to express our appreciation for the warm welcome and Southern hospitality.

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