HRC, Wild Goose FestivalPost submitted by Sharon Groves, former HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program

"You can have no idea what an enormous difference it makes to me to have you here." 

Marge left me with these words. They have stayed with me. She'd made the trek to the Wild Goose Festival - a unique gathering of Christian clergy and laypeople, musicians and artists - looking to affirm her faith and identity as a lesbian.

In her hometown of Indianapolis, that reconciliation seems at times impossible. Among progressive Christians at Wild Goose - including the Human Rights Campaign's Religion and Faith Program she not only found avenues to reconcile her faith and her sexual orientation but she saw how such reconciliation could create even deeper and more profound justice work.

Wild Goose may appear an odd place to seed a revolution of consciousness. Amid the fog-capped Smoky Mountains, Wi-Fi signals were blocked. But it was as if a higher spirit was cajoling us to pay attention to those before us and take home lessons learned.

Lessons like those of relational faith organizing, which was explored in the panel I was proud to moderate featuring the Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, Bishop Tonyia Rawls, and Caitlin Breedlove. These friends and colleagues discussed the ways in which they are working at the intersection of faith, and LGBT and racial equality. They are truly living out Bayard Rustin's most memorable quote, "We are one," for which the panel was titled.

It was only fitting that a panel named after Rustin's words should be held the same week as the announcement that Rustin -- the brilliant openly gay African-American Quaker who organized the March on Washington - would be posthumously awarded the National Medal of Freedom.

Like Rustin himself, the Festival presenters and attendees seemed to emphasize the multitude of ways in which our struggles intersect. It recharged our spirits, reconfirmed our commitment to justice, and most importantly, reminded us of the unbreakable bond between the two. I'm already looking forward to next year.

Filed under: Religion & Faith, Community

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