Playwright and dramedian R. Eric Thomas will host the event, along with storytellers from Calvary United Methodist Church, Unity Fellowship Church, The Soji Zen Center, Kol Tzedek, Germantown Mennonite Church and West Chester Seventh-Day Adventists.
Director of center services Candice Thompson said William Way has been interested in exploring the intersection of sexuality and spirituality, prompting the formation of its Out and Faithful program, which encourages discussion about LGBT acceptance in places of worship.
Thompson said “Coming Out Together” developed from conversations between Out and Faithful and the local chapter of Human Rights Campaign’s faith initiative.
“Both of our organizations were interested in lifting up the voices and stories of congregations who are welcoming to LGBTQ people or who are exploring this issue,” she said. “So often the narrative you hear in the mainstream media is that religious people hate gay people and for so many that’s just not their experience.”
In addition to providing support directly to LGBT individuals, Thompson added that the event will offer resources and provide models of affirmation to help faith communities foster LGBT inclusion.
The YES! Coalition, The Identity Kit Project and the First Person Arts will also collaborate for the event.
The six storytellers will have six to eight minutes to talk about their experiences as an LGBTQ-identified person in their spiritual or religious institutions. Audience members will then be invited to participate in a question-and-answer session.
Thompson said Thomas’ participation and leadership will be a valuable asset.
“He’s one of the best storytellers in the city, he’s a member of the community and this is an issue that is not foreign to him,” she said. “He’ll bring wit and insight and he’s already worked with each storyteller to help fine-tune what they’ll present.”
Thompson hopes attendees find themselves inspired by the stories that are told.
“We hope people will be empowered to have tough conversations within their congregations. We hope people will be affirmed in the positive experiences they’ve had in spiritual spaces and we hope people who may have walked through the door with one perception of what it means to be out and faithful will have that ‘ah-ha’ moment.”
Light food and beverage will be provided. Email Thompson to RSVP to the event at firstname.lastname@example.org. There is a suggested donation of $5-$10.