Have Faith…

Far too many young people hear from their faith leaders that their mere existence is a sin, a moral failure, and eternal damnation awaits them. All too often faith is used as a weapon against LGBTQ people, an excuse to oppress, as a reason to fire people from their jobs, kick children out of their homes and onto the streets, deny foster youth access to loving homes, and subjecting them to mental and physical torture in so-called “Conversion Therapy Camps,” which are still legal in 35 states.

For months our community has been holding our collective breath as yet again our legal protections hung in the balance at the Supreme Court. Before them was the Fulton case which sought to use faith as a license to discriminate. Today’s decision was very narrow, and only pertains to the specific contract at issue in Philadelphia. Left in place are LGBTQ nondiscrimination laws and policies.

We can not let down our guard. We’ve known for some time the strategic and intentional roadmap that anti-LGBTQ extremists have been using to unravel and destroy LGBTQ legal protections using religious freedom arguments as their facade. Today’s narrow ruling must serve as a reminder to us all that we cannot become complacent. It will take all of us applying pressure to our places of work, worship, and our elected representatives to compel each of them to understand they have a responsibility to ensure the passage of The Equality Act.

Today must also serve as a reminder that religious freedom is an LGBTQ issue. LGBTQ people are people of faith. In the San Diego region alone there are over 100 LGBTQ open and affirming congregations, each of them in active service of our people, community, and movement.

Each year during Pride week our LGBTQ supportive interfaith community comes together to honor that work at our Light up the Cathedral event held in partnership with St Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral. Each year we uplift social justice issues through an intersectional interfaith lens. In 2019 we uplifted the Jewish community to combat the rise in anti-Semitic violence, in 2020 we centered the Black community to counter anti-Black racism and violence.

This year we are centering our indigenous and two-spirit community. Our Light of Pride honorees are the Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition, a non-profit, nongovernmental tribal coalition that provides services and advocacy for women and 2SLGBTQ people. It is truly a privilege to know them and uplift their critical work to bring awareness against sexual assault and domestic violence in San Diego Indian Country.

Members from the Strong Hearted Native Women's Coalition standing shoulder to shoulder and smiling for the camera.

Whether you are spiritual, religious, faithful, agnostic, or atheist, we can agree that faith should not be used to harm our LGBTQ community. As we continue to fight the battles of our movement it will continue to be vital to work in coalition with one another towards our common goals and the common good. There is much work for us on the road ahead in our pursuit of justice, and I have faith that together we will get there because we are Resilient.

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About Alex Villafuerte

Alex Villafuerte is San Diego Pride's Marketing & Communication Manager. He oversees the marketing for all of Pride's events & programs. Outside of Pride, he has a love for the outdoors, the San Diego brew scene, and naps.