Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Faith and religion still big issues for LGBTQ media

by Joe Siegel

The Christmas season may indeed be the holiest time of year, but it offers a challenge for writers for LGBTQ publications — how to reach out to a community which has often been demonized by the Catholic Church and other religions.

Gwendolyn D. Clemons — editor in chief of The Unleashed Voice, a magazine based in Memphis that caters to the African-American LGBTQ community — wrote a recent editorial in which she wrote that she understands “the power of faith, prayer, and acting upon the many visions God provides in our daily lives.” 

While such sentiments are not typically part of the LGBTQ media, Clemons and her son, a minister who studied at Memphis Theological Seminary, do not subscribe to traditional Christian beliefs.

Gwendolyn D. Clemons of
The Unleashed Voice
“We are intentional about sharing the ‘Good News’ of God with the LGBTQ community,” Clemons explained. “We reject the common interpretation of biblical scripture that homosexuality is a sin.”

Clemons acknowledged the discrimination faced by the LGBTQ community. “My experience has taught me that religion is the one area where LGBTQ individuals struggle the most because of religious dogma and scripture abuse,” Clemons said. “Our articles come from a place of lived experience and being freed from this erroneous thinking. Our aim is to offer a constructive argument with support and researched theories about biblical scriptures and how to correctly understand the Bible.”

There needs to be more work done to change societal attitudes towards LGBTQ people, Clemons said. “I think tolerance has grown, but religion has a stronghold on homosexuality. I believe this because we have witnessed a lot of LGBTQ individuals struggle with their sexuality and religion, especially in the Black community.”

There are many churches that have become more inclusive to the LGBTQ community, including in the Deep South.

“Dallas is what I call the rhinestone buckle on the gay Bible Belt,” said Tammye Nash, managing editor of the Dallas Voice. “We have a large number of LGBT churches in North Texas, including the largest primarily LGBT church in the world [Cathedral of Hope UCC]. We also have several mainstream churches that have become much more open and accepting of LGBT people, and we have a very active LGBT Jewish synagogue, Beth El Binah. So religion and faith-based issues are a big deal for us year-round.”

However, the Dallas Voice is not focusing solely on religion in their year- end coverage.

“At the holidays, we tend to focus more on stories that are uplifting and positive rather than those tied to a specific religious or faith-based point of view,” Nash explained. “Our one exception is a column that Senior Staff Writer David Taffet writes every year in December. David is Jewish and on the board of Beth El Binah, and every year, he writes some version of his ‘Why I Hate Hanukkah' column.”

IN THE NEWS
Volume 20
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