Sojourners runs ad spotlighting LGBT homelessness

After Sojourners rejected an offer to purchase ad space on its web site during Mother’s Day by the Believe Out Loud campaign, many blogs (including the Café) pointed out the inconsistency of the notion that an organization labeling itself as both progressive and Christian would not participate in a simple campaign to raise awareness of the need for gracious hospitality for all in our churches, especially in this case members of the LGBT community.


Now GLAAD reports that after “[reaching] out to Sojourners directly to clarify the advertising and editorial policy concerning LGBT issues,” it has managed to place an ad with them supporting the work of the Ali Forney Center, a New York based homeless shelter for LGBT youth.

Yet GLAAD doesn’t seem to pull punches; its press release on the subject reads with a certain earned wariness:

What does such an ad do? Several things. It tests the notion of whether Sojourners would really accept an ad placed by an LGBT-focused organization. It also demonstrates to the leadership and readership the overlap between the LGBT community and poverty, war/peace, and environment. It also continues the conversation about LGBT inclusion in the life of the church and the world. Through the conversations about the ad, Sojourners got more interested in the topic of youth homelessness (which falls under their “poverty” category). They intend to run a series of blog posts about LGBT youth homelessness that were inspired by the facts listed on the ad. These facts shed a harsh light on the theology of exclusion, which teaches parents to reject their children when they come out, increasing the likelihood of homelessness in LGBT youth. One of the blog posts will feature an interview with Carl Siciliano, where he will share his calling to work with LGBT homeless youth, and how we can best address and prevent youth from becoming homeless, namely by loving and accepting our children, no matter what.

The placement of the ad, as well as the blog posts about LGBT youth homelessness, are wonderful steps forward for Sojourner’s Magazine. GLAAD is proud to have played a role in helping Sojourners understand the intersection between LGBT people and poverty, war/peace, and environment. Additionally, GLAAD is delighted that an important organization like the Ali Forney Center will be lifted up to a new audience and given the opportunity to speak prophetic words concerning our young people. At the same time, GLAAD is aware that there is much more that Sojourners could do. As we continue working together, GLAAD will continually call on Sojourners to address and support other issues that are important to LGBT people: employment nondiscrimination, violence against LGBT people, transgender discrimination in housing and employment, and yes, even marriage equality. This is a first step on the journey, but by taking this step, GLAAD has found new potential allies and opened their eyes to the realities of LGBT people’s lives.

Sojourners‘ Tim King seems happy to have been shot clear of the controversy for now, though one is still left wondering whether this is a minor course correction or something larger and more significant.

In the past few weeks, I’ve written about a lot of full-page ads. This full-page ad is different. Too often, homeless youth have been invisible. The Ali Forney Center, a service provider for LGBT homeless youth, has a full-page ad in this month’s issue of Sojourners magazine. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Association Against Defamation, connected the Ali Forney Center to Sojourners, as a part of an advertising campaign the Ali Forney Center is running. The ad highlights that up to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. I have talked with many teens who became homeless because they were kicked out of their homes or ran away from abuse by their parents because of their sexual identity. After their homes became dangerous, they went to the streets, where many were attacked and some were trafficked or forced into prostitution….

Over the next few weeks, God’s Politics will post a series of blogs highlighting various aspects of youth homelessness, including more on the challenges, but also the ways forward in Chicago, an interview with the executive director of the Ali Forney Center, and on the connection between youth homelessness and trafficking.

Many thanks to the Ali Forney Center for their ad in Sojourners magazine and the work of GLAAD to help highlight the intersection between Sojourners mission around poverty and this justice issue that disproportionately affects those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Reflecting on the matter, Becky Garrison, a devout Christian who wields a satirist’s pen, offers alternative language she views as potentially helpful during this time when we’re trying to figure out who speaks for you and me.

Why not designate those “progressive evangelicals” who do not feel called to welcome LGBT people into their church communities by advocating equal rites for all as traditionalist progressives?” (The term “conservative progressive” appears to be quite the oxymoron.)That will distinguish them from those religious progressives in largely mainline and spiritual but not religious circles who advocate for women’s rights and full inclusion of LGBT people. Such a distinction will allow for funders and followers to have a clearer scope of the organization’s mission, so they can ascertain if this ministry is in line with their values. Also, this shift would be a start toward educating the media and the public at large about the growing multicultural nature of religious progressivism.

Category : The Lead

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2 Comments
  1. Danny Berry

    GLBT issues have been a persistent blind-spot for Sojourners and its founder Jim Wallis. Progress has been slow–has taken years–but they’re getting there. Thank God. Strange to me, though, that they find it so easy to neglect to cast so egregious an issue in Christian terms.

    And how if you’ll excuse me, I have a plank to remove from my eye.

  2. David C. Wacaster+

    Why not designate those “progressive evangelicals” who do not feel called to welcome LGBT people into their church communities by advocating equal rites for all as traditionalist progressives?”

    Actually, why not call them what they are: bigots?

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