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LGBT History Month: When the saints go marchin’ in – people who have made the leap of faith 2 Jews

January 21, 2016

LOFGareth Marshall, who designed the logo for LGBT History Month 2016, said he was inspired by “the phrase “leap of faith”. I chose this phrase because I believe it is a very powerful and personal message. It is about believing and having faith both in one’s religion, and in oneself. It represents a risk we take for a better outcome and future, a push forward in acceptance and tolerance within and towards to LGBT community, and the strength it can take to come out…”

The accompanying booklet talks of: we need to recognise that most people who belong to a faith group have religion to bring peace and understanding to their lives. We also need to acknowledge that there are some who use – or abuse – religion to justify their own prejudices and bigotry. …….each of the Abrahamic religions has something in its scriptures that can be interpreted to suggest that homosexual relations are sinful. We recognise that religious doctrine has brought harm to many in the LGBT community and that at its worst this has led to despair, suicide, murder and statutory murder; both in the past and the present. …..we also recognise that many in the LGBT community will hold prejudices towards people of faith. …..Religious orthodoxies continue to exclude us …….LGBT people of faith have made great strides to makes their own places of worship inclusive ……brave campaigners who stick their heads above the parapet to challenge …”

SagarinEdward Sagarin 1950 wrote “Here for the first time, is the story of homosexuality, as seen, felt, experienced, and told by a homosexual.” It promised that this professed homosexual author offered “keen analytical understand­ing” of a “little-understood” subject. The Homosexual in America was one of the first works of nonfiction to represent a self-consciously homosex­ual perspective to an American audience. Writing with the authorial “I” about one’s own homosexuality was risky business, and “Cory” wisely penned the book under a pseudonym; his real name was Edward Sagarin. A Jewish leftist and an autodidact, Sagarin wrote the book while work­ing as a fragrance expert in the perfume industry. He later went on to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology. His dissertation, defended in 1966 under his own name, examined the secret homosexual societies forming dur­ing the postwar era. Unacknowledged in the later professional work was Sagarin’s key role in the formation of these organizations.  The Homosexual in America was in many ways a work of identity politics, and it flipped the conventional therapeutic approach to homosexuality on its ear. Psychological buzzwords—self-knowledge, self-acceptance, and personal integration—appeared in this book with altered meanings. The Homosexual in America presented the self-knowledge of homosexuals as a perspective that was “as essential as those of the psychiatrist, the jurist. or the churchman in arriving at any conclusions about homosexuality.”… . Sagarin proposed an alternative meaning for homosexual self-acceptance—he saw it not as a step toward heterosexual transformation but as a path toward happy homosexuality. “A person who accepts the fact that he cannot change into a heterosexual, and from that point accepts himself for what he is, will have taken the important step toward ceasing the struggle against himself,”… . Borrowing a page from social analyses of dicrimiation faced by social minorities like “Negroes” and “Jews,” argued that homosexuals were an “unrecognized minority” that experienced stigma and discrimination because they were different from the majority. Just as racial and religious minorities contended with a long of oppression and discrimination, so homosexuals contended with the stigma and targeting from “the heterosexual society.” For homo­sexuals, Sagarin argued, the taproot of this problem was religion.

L BlueLionel Blue (born 6 February 1930) is a British Reform rabbi, journalist and broadcaster. He lost his faith at the age of five after petitionary prayer failed to remove Hitler and Oswald Mosley; he then turned to the Marxism of his uncle. Blue regained his faith while at the University of Oxford, when he found some resolution to severe personal conflicts regarding his sexuality at a Quaker meeting. He was the first British rabbi publicly to declare his homosexuality. He is best known for his longstanding work with the media, most notably his wry and gentle sense of humour on Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. In 1998, Blue was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University. He is also honorary doctor of Divinity and Fellow of Grey College, Durham. He is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

Rabbi SharonCongregation Beit Simchat Torah is New York City’s synagogue for the metropolitan area’s more than 100,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Jews, together with their families and their friends. Founded in 1973, CBST is the largest and most influential gay synagogue in the world. Under the leadership of Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum since 1992, CBST has become and important voice in Judaism, in the world-wide discourse on the nature of religious community, and in the movement of secure civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the United States and throughout the world.

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