Huffington Post recently published a slide show of 15 “inspiring LGBT religious leaders”. They are :
- Irshad Manji, Muslim and founder and director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University’s School of Public Service.
- Bishop Gene Robinson, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.
- Rev. Ouyang Wen Feng, who founded a gay-friendly church outside Kuala Lumpur and is thought to be Malaysia’s only openly gay pastor.
- Imam Daayiee Abdullah, the imam and religious director of Masjid An-Nur Al-Isslaah, and the co-director of Muslims for Progressive Values
- Bishop Mary Douglas Glasspool serves as the Assistant Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles.
- Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beit Simshat Torah, the largest LGBT synagogue in the world.
- Rev. Troy Perry founded the LGBT denomination of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) in 1968.
- Larry Yang is on the Spirit Rock Teachers’ Council and a core teacher at the new East Bay Meditation Center in Oakland, Calif.
- Pastor Manny Santiago is the pastor of University Baptist Church in Seattle, Wa.
- Rev. Scott Anderson is the first openly gay PCUSA minister ordained after the church voted to allow individual presbyteries to set their own ordination guidelines around sexual orientation.
- The Rev. Pat Bumgardner is currently the Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of New York.
- Rabbi Steven Greenberg, the first openly gay Orthodox rabbi, is Director of Orthodox Programs for Nehirim, the organization for GLBT Jewish culture and spirituality.
- Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder of the United Church of Christ Church, City of Refuge and presiding Bishop of The Fellowship.
- Archbishop Carl Bean founded the Unity Fellowship Church Movement, a primarily African American and LGBT denomination.
- Rev. Malcolm Boyd is an Episcopalian Priest and author of “Are You Running With Me Jesus?”
They also ask their readers, “Who is not on the list?”. Perhaps in response to this, number 16 has been added:
- Justin Lee is the founder and Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network.
So, who else is missing? I find the selection somewhat idiosyncratic. Some (Gene Robinson, Troy Perry) are household names to LGBT Christians, and I approve the inclusion of people from other (non-Christian) faiths, but others I have never heard of, and this is a topic I investigate constantly. Is this a reflection on my particular biases? More troubling to me than these unexpected inclusions, are the omissions. There is not a single Catholic on the list, so I would like to propose some of my own. Off the top of my head, I suggest the following (more could easily follow):
Fr John McNeill, theologian, therapist and priest, who was forced to leave the Jesuit order to continue writing the truth about sexuality and theology. His pioneering books, and subsequent work as a therapist, have been an inspiration (and literal lifesaver) to countless gay and lesbian Catholics over nearly four decades.
Fr James Alison, openly gay priest and theologian, who writes not gay theology but theology from a gay perspective, is influencing not only gay Catholics, but also the wider Christian community – including such notable theologians as Archbishop Rowan Williams , primate of the Anglican Church.
Sr Jeanine Grammick, c0- founder of New Ways Ministry, who responded to the simple question “What is the Church doing for my gay brothers and sisters?” with the recognition that what “the church” was failing to provide, she would attempt to do directly. This she has continued to do, also over nearly four decades, in spite of direct opposition and hostility from the powerful elites in Rome.
Fr Bernard Lynch, now a London – based priest who was one of the first priests to respond with compassion and dedication to the plight of gay men in New York in the early days of the AIDS crisis, and found from the institutional church not support, but direct hostility and outright persecution. Since then, he has become not simply a gay priest, but one who openly acknowledges his marriage to husband Billy – and an inspiration to London gay Catholics for the wisdom he shares, in talks and in spiritual direction.
Mark D. Jordan, scholar and writer, whose books illuminate so much of the hypocrisy and paradoxes in the institutional Catholic Church, and its response to homoerotic relationships.
Arthur Sullivan, journalist and political conservative, whose fierce advocacy for gay marriage from a conservative perspective have done so much to win over to the cause of LGBT equality, people whose conservative values would not be seen as natural straight allies.
Those are my initial suggestions. Any more? ( I would particularly welcome nominations of more women. ).