ReconcilingWorks urges participation in May 17 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia
To North Americans, Idaho is a largely mountainous state in the northwestern United States. But around the world, IDAHO is becoming known as something else: the International Day Against Homophobia (sometimes with Transphobia as part of the name to make the acronym IDAHOT).
IDAHO is recognized annually on May 17 to commemorate the date on which the World Health Organization decided to remove homosexuality from the list of mental disorders. Since its conception about ten years ago, IDAHO has grown from a few local commemorations to include both secular and faith-based activities of all sorts in most countries of the world. An international coordinating committee helps local groups publicize their activities, connect to the wider movement and build mass awareness. These groups use everything from traditional media proclamations to Facebook, Twitter and flashmobs.
ReconcilingWorks’ European partner, the umbrella group European Forum of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Groups (www.euroforumlgbtchristians.eu), was an early supporter of IDAHO. And in particular, many individual member organizations of the European Forum have lead the proclamation of IDAHO vigils for people of faith to reflect, individually or in larger gatherings, on an appropriate Biblical theme. For example, the European Forum’s member groups in Italy have announced, “We will meet together in several cities of Italy (Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, etc.) to celebrate many vigils of prayer to remember the victims of homophobia and to smash in, through our testimony, the wall of silence and embarrassment that usually prevails in our churches and our society about this heavy problem.”
ReconcilingWorks members are encouraged to organize an event or activity, such as a vigil, on May 17. RIC congregations might want to do something during worship on a Sunday around that date. (See resources provided at ReconcilingWorks website at www.reconcilingworks.org/idaho)
IDAHO activities are not meant to replace pride events (which happen at various times throughout the year in different locales) or Reconciling in Christ Sunday, celebrated in many RIC congregations and settings in late January. IDAHO augments all of these commemorations by increasing international awareness of LGBT-related issues, including a remembrance of those harmed by homophobic and transphobic attitudes but ending with positive stories of inclusion and reconciliation.
Support for vigils:
– See the IDAHO website at www.dayagainsthomophobia.org
– Resources to help plan vigils and to use at vigils can be found on the ReconcilingWorks website at www.reconcilingworks.org/idaho
– For 2013, the IDAHO vigils will be based on these Biblical passages: 1 John 3:13-18 and 1 John 4:18-21. Organizers of vigils are encouraged to use the theme of “There is no fear in love”, taken from the second of these passages.
– Vigils are meant to include a remembrance of some of the victims of homophobia and a telling of stories about experiences of homophobic violence. Find one story on the ReconcilingWorks web page for IDAHO at www.reconcilingworks.org/idaho
– The international organizers of the vigils are asking planners of local vigils to submit the dates of their events on the IDAHO website (go to www.dayagainsthomophobia.org then click on “News and events” and then “Submit your event”)
Additional event: For those in the Washington, D.C., area, there will be a showing of “God Loves Uganda” at Washington National Cathedral on May 17. This feature-length documentary explores the evangelical campaign to change African culture with values imported from America’s Christian Right. It follows American and Ugandan religious leaders fighting “sexual immorality” and missionaries trying to convince Ugandans to follow Biblical law. This showing is being organized by the St. Paul’s Foundation (www.stpaulsfdr.org) on behalf of the National Cathedral. There will also be a panel discussion after the viewing of the film. Watch the event calendar on the cathedral’s website – www.nationalcathedral.org – for more details.