Rainbow Families DC’s 2016 Family Conference, at the Georgetown Day School in DC (the high school campus). “Held every two years, the Rainbow Families DC Family Conference provides an opportunity for LGBTQ parents, family members and their children, as well as prospective parents, to gather for a day of learning, networking and fellowship.” I was given this opportunity by TransFaith, where I’m a National Councilmember – the TF office in Philly was asked to help gather local panelists through our national network. I hadn’t interacted with RF before, but I knew about them, and knew a few families here in the County that were members.
This was the only faith-based programming at the conference, and it is still a new conversation there, and I think we helped them move towards a larger conversation over the next two years. Our description, which did turn out to be accurate: “As persons who identify as LGBTQ, we have often had to hide our sexual orientation and/or gender identity in religious settings or face rejection. Many of us have experienced explicit or implicit exclusion and discrimination from faith communities and come to believe that we cannot both be our true LGBTQ selves and be religious or spiritual. It is often assumed that persons of faith, particularly faith leaders, are anti-LGBTQ. This workshop will offer a facilitated space where panelists from several faith traditions will speak from their experiences of reclaiming or claiming faith, drawing from sacred texts that speak to inclusion. Information will be shared about local religious communities that are truly open and inclusive to LGBTQ persons and our families.”
Our facilitator was Rev. Michele Johns (Silver Spring United Methodist Church staff member, hospital chaplain), and my fellow panelists were Hilary Howes (Roman Catholic transgender faith leader, Call To Action - Maryland board member, event designer; also part of TransFaith’s network, and the only person I knew beforehand), Amanda Poppei (Washington Ethical Society’s Senior Leader, Unitarian Universalist minister), and Laura Moye (Saint Stephen & the Incarnation Episcopal Church member, charter school teacher).