Tomorrow, the Global Network of Rainbow Conference begins its Assembly with a series of “pre-conference” for delegates from Africa, Asia and South America. The main conference gets under way on Thursday. (Quest will be represented by our three delegates, our chair Ruby Almeida, Terry Weldon and Thomas Bartsch.
In preparation for the Assembly, the GNRC have published on their website four reflections by LGBT people from four different countries and backgrounds. (The full post is available in English , Español , Française or German. The extract below is by Ruby, who although based in London has strong roots in India, and is extremely conscious of the difficulties faced by LGBT people pf faith outside the relatively LGBT friendly cities of Western Europe and North America.
“If you happen to be LGBT, have a faith and are from a culture that does not recognize the rights or existence of your being then it is almost impossible to find happiness or peace of mind.”
My name is Ruby Almeida. I am Indian, living in London. This cosmopolitan and LGBT friendly city does lend itself to living an open and authentic life for lgbt people of faith. Nonetheless, there are so many from our community who face discrimination on a daily basis from their immediate family circles and from their faith communities. Being gay is often tough enough but also being a person of faith makes for a life of incredible hurt and pain. And if you happen to be LGBT, have a faith and are from a culture that does not recognize the rights or existence of your being, then it is almost impossible to find happiness or peace of mind. And this is in London! Imagine how much more traumatic and impossible it is if you live in certain African or Asian countries where homosexuality is a crime. If your church condones the violence that you face on a daily basis, what hope is there for you? Yet this is the reality for so many of our LGBT brothers and sisters in so many parts of the world.
Living in the West, I am acutely conscious of privileges that affords me to live out my life as authentically as I can. It also stokes up my conscience as a practicing Catholic to acknowledge that there are many things wrong with society and within our Church that so badly fail its LGBT faithful. Those challenges that prick the conscience just cannot be ignored if I call myself a follower of Christ. It is tragic to see how extremism of a right-wing fundamentalism has gripped our Church in so many countries. They can be put down to legacy of empire, which in many cases is absolutely true. However, when these thoughts and ideas permeate the daily lives of ordinary people because the ‘other’ voices are not heard then it is time to stand up and say it loud and with pride that this does not represent Jesus. Silence is not an option.
The Global Network of Rainbow Catholics offers us all a means to form solidarity and to enhance our support systems so that campaigns on criminalization and all forms of injustice can be publicized. GNRC is not meant to be a ‘talking shop’ but rather a mechanism for bringing about change in the hearts and minds of our church leaders.