Thursday, February 7, 2013

Proud to be an Episcopalian at Creating Change

Alan Yarborough
To get to the Creating Change conference, I took a quick drive down the road to Atlanta, GA, from Clemson, SC, where I go to school. Having the conference in a Southern city was a wonderful experience, proving that the South is home to a significant component of the LGBT rights movement. I had the privilege of staffing the Integrity booth in the exhibit hall, where you can find booths for organizations of every kind, from welcoming church organizations to lawyers offices.

The conference itself is a wonderful space for LGBT activism and intersectional social justice work, where attendees can choose from workshops on race, class, immigration, religion, politics and more. The variety of people attending the conference makes for an eclectic opportunity to converse and problem solve in a safe and affirming environment with people and organizations who are on the forefront of not only the LGBT rights movement but every other social justice movement in the country.

So many visitors to Integrity’s table expressed words of gratitude for Integrity being one of those organizations on the forefront of equality. One woman in particular spoke about Integrity’s tangible work for transgender and gender nonconforming people. She said while many other organizations include transgender in name only, Integrity takes action on transgender rights. 

Others who stopped by the table were unfamiliar with Integrity and the work of welcoming and affirming organizations. Many revealed their current lack of faith and the moment when their church community turned them away. I believe that for many, seeing the Episcopal Church present at Creating Change inspired a bit of hope and reassurance.

Representing Integrity at Creating Change meant standing on the shoulders of all of those past and present who have done amazing work for LGBT rights. Representing Integrity meant I received these expressions of thanks for the work of so many, and I want to pass that thanksgiving on to all who are a part this organization.

In this time of re-imagining for Integrity, we will remain a leader in this work. Having experienced success on a national level within the Episcopal Church, we can move ahead in bolstering Integrity’s presence throughout every community, like in my small home town, Clemson, South Carolina. We can move ahead in our commitment to the trans community and in our intersectional work across race, class and national origin.

Thanks greatly to Bishop Gene Robinson’s attendance, the Episcopal Church had a large presence at the conference. Integrity and the Episcopal Church emerged as leaders in this movement years ago, and they are still at the front of the line today. The change Integrity has inspired in our world, insisting that all have a place at the table, makes me proud to be a gay man, a Christian, and an Episcopalian.

- Alan Yarborough

Alan Yarborough is a student at Clemson University, where he is a Peer Minister at the Episcopal chaplaincy, the Canterbury Club.  He was one of several young adults who participated in Integrity's Leadership Summit in Pasadena in autumn of 2012, and has also worked with us as a research assistant and intern.  Alan was joined at Creating Change by Province IV Coordinator Bruce Garner. The Right Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Retired Bishop of New Hampshire, was presented with the Susan J. Hyde Award for Longevity in the Movement by the  National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

No comments: