Tag Archives: lgbtq

Heart to Heart Conversations in Roanoke

This November the Heart to Heart: Conversations on Loving our LGBTQ Neighbors and Strengthening our Faith will be holding a series of discussions in the Roanoke area. These conversations will feature the internationally known speaker, author, and spiritual director, Susan Cottrell. Susan is a wife and mother to five children, two of whom are members of the LGBTQI community, and author of Mom, I’m Gay! Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith and True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You. She has also founded the organization, www.freedhearts.org, a nonprofit that aims to address LGBTQI issues theologically and religiously. Having recently been featured on ABC’S 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America, Susan is a firm believer that the foundation of faith is based upon one’s love for God and all others.

The main purpose behind the Heart to Heart conversations is to create and promote serious discussion and support for the LGBTQ community. What once started as a one-day event, has now turned into a week-long series of events to promote discussion, love, and understanding. Among many topics discussed, some of the most prominent include curiosity and difficulty with sexual orientation, gender identity, and faith. The Heart to Heart events will be held November 8-12 with the main event, the Heart to Heart Conference, occurring November 11, 9am-2pm at the Christ Episcopal Church in Roanoke. A schedule of these events may be found at www.hearttoheartva.com. Most of these events, unless stated otherwise, are free and open to the public.

Donations can be made to the Heart to Heart foundation online at www.donate.hearttoheartva.com or checks can be made payable to the Roanoke Diversity Center and mailed to 806 Jamison Ave SE, Roanoke, VA 24013. All donations will go towards funding for these conversations that deepen our love and support for the LGBTQ community and featuring authors and leaders, such as Susan Cottrell.

 

Written by Taylor Ward

Embody Progress: The Change Project

We were first introduced to The Change Project when we met a representative from the organization at Roanoke’s Pride Festival in 2016. Their mission is to “elevate the voice of LGBTQ people and advocate for an improved quality of life through the arts, education, and local policy initiatives in the Deep South and Midwest United States.”

The organization was founded by Steven Romeo in 2012. It works with the LGBT+ community in Southern, Midwestern, and rural communities, QTPOC, youth, people living with HIV, and low-income communities. In November 2015, The Change Project was honored by the White House as a “Champion of Change.”

Their campaigns like “Faces of LGBTQ America” and “IAMHIV” pair stories with photos and seek to increase visibility while simultaneously ending stigma. They give power back to the people represented, and create space for a constructive dialogue about what it is like to be part of communities that are often either judged or ignored.

So, how can you support this amazing organization?

First, check out their website. There are great resources there on how to donate and volunteer to help in your community.

You can also visit their shop! Shop Progress creates innovated, fresh fashion that “intentionally seeks to encompass the vast array of identities within the LGBTQ+ community.”

And, if you’re up for traveling in August, they will present Embody Progress, a conference on LGBTQ equality, August 10-13 in Birmingham, Alabama. You can register for the conference by following this link.

The Safety Pin I’m Wearing

There are a lot of opinions floating around on social media about the donning of a safety pin on one’s apparel. Some would agree that it is a visible sign that the person wearing it will help provide a safe place for people who identify as a member of the many targeted groups who have experienced hate crimes throughout history. Others have argued that it is something of a shield—an easy way for the wearer to escape any real action helping the same marginalized groups while still identifying themselves as one of the “good guys.”
I would like to respectfully address the latter.
I understand the argument comes from a place of anger, and perhaps the writer’s own embarrassment. Believe me when I say, I’m embarrassed also. I’m embarrassed that, despite my belief that those in the LGBTQ community should always enjoy the same rights and freedoms I occasionally take for granted, I let their recent victory in the Supreme Court make me lazy.
I’m ashamed that I took my extra money over the last few months and bought coffee or treats for myself while women in more conservative states feared that key resources like Planned Parenthood would disappear because of the life-saving, professional services they offer to some patients who choose not to carry their pregnancy to term for whatever reason.
I’m furious with myself for not engaging with those on social media who posted memes about gun control, subtly and not-so-subtly identifying Muslims as the force behind the violence we’ve witnessed in recent months. Additionally, I’m horrified that pressing a “delete” button or demurring from the “sensitive” topic of immigration and violence against minorities was my choice approach for so long. It was such because I believed that we lived in a country where yes, fear has a voice, but compassion, kindness, and acceptance were so close to eradicating it.
I’m embarrassed, but not by my safety pin.
We are surrounded by distractions that let us fall into the monotony of modern life without considering the hate and discrimination befalling humans across this planet and across our nation. A tragedy occurs and we change our profile pictures to represent our sympathy, but by the following week things are back to normal unless you are directly affected by the incident. Nothing is ever going to change unless we realize that we have a responsibility, as humans, to stand up for one another. Even when it is uncomfortable. Even when our newsfeeds are filled with engagements, babies, and accomplishments.
If my safety pin tells you that I am a safe space, that is a wonderful thing. I will stand next to you, and I will give you a shoulder on which you can cry, lean, or use to climb up and achieve your dreams.
But that little silver trinket is not, nor will it ever be, a plea for recognition or a pat on the back.
It is a reminder that history, in fact, does repeat itself if we aren’t careful. The Emmett Tills and Matthew Shepards of this world are still out there suffering. And when I look at my wrist, I make a promise to them that I will never let myself get lazy again.