February 28, 2015

Today we hear from Georgia Noble of PFLAG Santa Barbara, who with her chapter helped to coordinate the first Interfaith Pride Celebration in the community.

We orchestrated the first Interfaith Pride Celebration here in Santa Barbara to take place in conjunction with our Pride Festival. We worked together with our local LGBTQ organization, Pacific Pride, who helped us promote the event. We applied for a received a grant for $4600 form The Fund for Santa Barbara with the idea that this event would be a way to bring together the local faith communities and promote the LGBTQ community. We rented The Sunken Gardens, a part of the City Court House, a neutral and public space. We gathered together an interfaith group of clergy to plan the service. We then gathered together 19 open and inclusive local congregations to “sponsor” the event. They had tables set up at the event promoting their congregations and people were encouraged to hang out and get to know who was there in support, which people did.

By all measures the event was an amazing success.  We had around 350 people show up including a 50 person Interfaith Choir. We had 19 congregations and three other non-profits come out as sponsors. We had no idea that there were that many open and inclusive congregations in our community. People were very, very moved by the event. We got feedback for weeks about how moving it was. I am sending you a couple of the pieces that were especially meaningful for the LGBTQ people present; the Litany of Confession and the Litany of Thanksgiving. I am also sending you a link to a video of the event.

Part of our vision was to galvanize the churches to be more proactive and to become better allies. We had a couple of congregations, for example, use the event as a way to begin an exploration and conversation of the issue within their congregations. One of our next steps is to create an Interfaith Pride Alliance of local congregations that can take on the work of healing some of the damage done by faith communities. Even when congregations are open and inclusive they often still have along way to go in becoming better allies. We will definitely do the event again and keep the momentum going.