Voices of Support
John J. McNeill
Author, The Church and the Homosexual
The past thirty years have seen the rise of a visible gay, lesbian, transgendered, and transsexual community within the Christian community. They have also seen an enormous amount of theological writings on all aspects of gay liberation. A sign that gay liberation is coming into its maturity as a stable component of the Christian community is the creation of CLGS. This Center will commit itself to collecting and developing the theological foundations of gay liberation and provide a safe space for scholars to conduct the studies and research essential to the further development of gay liberation.
I am proud that my archives will be a part of this original and creative endeavor.
Michael M. Mendiola
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Pacific School of Religion
I support the Center because CLGS is doing the kind of work that I want to be a part of!
Under the able leadership of Mary Tolbert and Bernie Schlager, the Center has literally "taken off," developing multiple educational and advocacy programs and activities in order to address issues of vital concern to LGBT communities. As a gay man and a scholar of religious ethics (and, I believe, the first openly gay professor tenured at Pacific School of Religion), I believe that the Center's work is crucial to the moral health not only of faith communities, but also to our society as a whole.
CLGS is already becoming an important locus and voice for critical and scholarly work around LGBT issues and perspectives relative to religion and I see a bright and necessary horizon for its future.
Rosemary Radford Ruether
Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology
I support the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at Pacific School of Religion because it is simply one of the most creative centers at the Graduate Theological Union.
I see the work it is doing as cutting edge in many ways. It is dealing with the interface of sexuality, gender, sexual and social identity in a church where these realities have for centuries been the center of repression and fear. It is able to touch on a wide range of social relations, including issues of class, ethnicity and race, through these issues of sexuality identity.
There is a happy and adventurous spirit at work in this Center that is able to push the edges of the discourse around these issues and imagine many new dimensions of them, inviting speakers from a wide variety of religious and social backgrounds. It is a good place and getting better all the time.
Starr King School M.Div. student
Contributor to Blessed Bi Spirit: Bisexuals of Faith, edited by Debra Kolodny
I value CLGS because it draws our attention to the complexities of religion as a liberating force and religion as an oppressive force. I long for the day when more bisexuals are open about their lives. CLGS can help that day arrive.
Lynn Stott, Ph.D. (Anthropology and Religion)
Internet Strategy and Planning Consultant
As a lesbian in business I've encountered my share of bigotry and prejudice—as a lesbian with relatives, I've encountered it in more subtle and painful ways. Like many LGBT Americans, I experience distance, alienation, and a type of "disowning" by my own family because of what they understand their "faith" commands them to believe. Many others have experienced bodily injury and grievous harm because of what "believers" feel called to say or do.
The root cause of the bulk of the injustice LGBT folks experience in day-to-day life in this country is the disinformation and anachronistic understandings promoted by religious bodies and by religious "believers" in the name of their faith. CLGS is committed to providing accurate, reliable information and resources about religious history, religious texts, and religious practice vis-a-vis same-sex love relationships or partnerships.
That commitment, which provides reputable information to a variety of constituencies, including the media, communities of faith, and the scholarly community, has the potential to turn the tide of public discourse regarding LGBT people and their place in society. It has such potential because it addresses the root cause in ways no other program or organization has done before.
CLGS is a flame of justice, truth, and vision that I am eager to fan.
José Ignacio Cabezón
XIVth Dalai Lama Professor of Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
CLGS is unique in its attempt to create bridges between those who study and those who practice religion in translesbigay communities. It is this commitment to fostering connections between scholarship and praxistheory and dedicated activism, that I find so refreshing.
How does/should scholarship impact real religious communities (queer and otherwise)? How should scholarly work, in turn, be impacted by the needs of queer religious persons and communities? Grappling with these issues—keeping this healthy tension between theory and praxis, between religion as an object of study and as the experience of lived communities—is at the heart of CLGS's mission.
Equally important, to my mind, is CLGS's sustained commitment to fostering diversity at all levels: sexual/gender, racial/ethnic, and religious. As a gay latino Buddhist who is also a scholar of Buddhism these issues are important to me. The fact that they are also important to CLGS makes my affiliation to this unique institution a natural fit.
Sharon Casey, OP
D.Min student, PSR
Director, Campus Ministry
Holy Names College, Oakland
I believe there needs to be a center for theological inquiry and reflection on LGBT issues within the Graduate Theological Union and CLGS fills this need, as well as serving as a place of support personally and professionally for individuals through its programs, publications, and gatherings. The Center is a vibrant witness and visible sign of the presence and gifts of the LGBT community within the larger community.
Rev. Donna Morrow DeCamp
United Methodist Permanent Deacon
M. Div. Student, Pacific School of Religion
When my older daughter came out as a lesbian nearly eight years ago, my life changed completely—for the better! Many changes occurred in my personal life, but a great transformation happened in my professional life.
Personally, I went into the closet for a while (which I later learned is typical of a lot of parents) and in that darkness, I concentrated mainly on me and asked myself a lot of questions. What did I do wrong? If I had raised my daughter differently, would she have become a heterosexual? More time passed and I sought the support of P-FLAG. There I learned about homosexuality. Other caring, loving parents educated me. They helped me rise out of my self-centeredness, and I began to see the hurt, pain and tears of LGBTQ people themselves.
Then I experienced this at a most personal level when my daughter called to tell me she and her partner had been spit upon by a police officer. After comforting her as much as I could through telephone lines, I vowed to personally support and comfort all people who needed shelter from the cruelty of others. Therefore, I see CLGS as a loving, caring place of shelter and encouragement. I support CLGS as a place where LGBTQ people, along with their friends and families, can begin or continue their personal educational journeys.
Professionally, my ministry changed to one emphasizing social justice for all God¹s children. With further help, assistance, and encouragement from others, I eventually became an advocate for equal rights for LGBTQ people. I support CLGS because I also see it as a place where students, professors, and church professionals learn more about LGBTQ issues and become more informed and enlightened. I support it as the place where we get ammunition we need to fight bigotry and persecution. With CLGS we can continue to proclaim the worth and dignity of all our LGBTQ family and friends.
Sister Jeannine Gramick
National Coalition of American Nuns
As a woman religious leader whose ministry to and with lesbian and gay Catholics since 1971 has not always received the encouragement of my own religious leaders, I have felt the support the Center provides to people of all faiths.
The acceptance of John McNeill's papers as part of the Center's archives in February 2002 was a momentous tribute to all Catholics. This event convinced me the Center is making a vital contribution to our faith communities to become welcoming places for LGBT persons and their families.
Thanks for all you and the Center have done to make life more whole for LGBT persons.
Mary E. Hunt, Ph.D.
Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER)
I enthusiastically endorse the Center because I believe that the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is the theological institution best positioned to open new horizons on LGBT issues. The GTU is graced by the presence of many centers that do cutting edge work in many fields.
The CLGS is a natural addition to the mix, a dynamic place where important issues of sexuality, diversity, and justice can be debated with scholarly integrity and activist commitment. I expect that the Center will attract worldwide attention as a prototype for this kind of work. It is a place where innovative scholars convene to encourage one another's work and to engage critically the unfolding sexuality issues.
The Center's archives promises to provide future scholars with primary sources for understanding and evaluating the rapidly developing field of LGBT religious studies. I look forward to teaching and learning in this setting for years to come.