Article by Max Disposti, Founder and Executive Director of the North County LGBTQ Resource Center, August 9, 2012.
Being an LGBT person of faith in some geographical areas can be very difficult. Only a few years ago, finding a supportive LGBT church or congregation in North County would have cost you some research time. Today, a diverse range of interfaith communities are stepping up to make sure their messages can be heard everywhere.
Despite being born and raised a couple of miles away from Vatican City, my personal experience with organized religion is pretty much equal to my relation with some politicians: I listen to them and I can respect them, but we are not going to build a family together. Atheist, agnostic or simply open to the idea of other possibilities, I don’t feel a relation to something that I really don’t know much about.
However, what I know is how important religion is for many of my fellow LGBT citizens because I see everyday how the denial of their sexual orientation or gender identity by their own faith can be very devastating, if not tragically deadly. For many years in North County, religion could have ruined your existence if you were LGBT, but now it can save your life.
This is why, since the opening of our LGBTQ Resource Center, I always make sure our faith-based partners are as represented as possible. With time, we found out that, in addition to the historical and inclusive presence of Pilgrim Church in Carlsbad, there are a myriad of other congregations and churches that have contributed to the wellbeing of our LGBT brothers and sisters.
Therefore, it was time to put all this effort together and create a LGBTQ Interfaith Council of North County. Thanks to the effort and leadership of Rev. Alex Mendoza from the Christ Chapel World Ministries of Oceanside, we are now at the third meeting of this Council and the number of inclusive churches is growing every month.
“The Interfaith Council of North County is an active coalition that serves the LGBTQ community in the area of love, healing, acceptance and social justice,” states the mission. The LGBTQ Interfaith Council was born from the foundation and principles of the Interfaith Committee of San Diego, which was formed in 2006 before a protest of the inequality of marriage laws in the United States.
More from the mission: “The Interfaith Council has now found a home in North County [within the Resource Center], and is excited to be an additional source of spiritual resources, understanding, healing and acceptance within the journey of those who have been rejected by communities of faith because of who they are.”
I can already imagine the positive effects that this Council will have on our youth in search of support and understanding, but also in creating more visibility in a region where organized religion – so far – has mostly meant discrimination, separation and, sometimes, even hate.
These are the list of churches that have begun participating in the Council: All Saints Catholic Church, Center for Spiritual Living, Christ Chapel World Ministries, Jewish Family Services, Mission Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles and Pilgrim Church UCC.
For a list of LGBT inclusive North County faith-based organizations, visit ncresourcecenter.org/faith-religion. If you would like to add your church or congregation to the list of North County LGBT inclusive churches please email Rev. Medina at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the Resource Center at email@example.com.