Posts Tagged ‘gay church’
The American story of AIDS will always be connected to Gay history, even though on a world level, most people with the virus are heterosexuals. This is because the virus first became known in America because of unusual deaths initially noticed within the Gay population. This led officials in the public health field to create a diagnosis of Gay Related Immune Deficiency Syndrome or GRIDS, before it was understood how the virus was really transmitted. Unfortunately, this mistake labeled AIDS as a gay plague or gay cancer in most American minds.
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Christian Churches considered to be mainstream (along with the connected faiths of Judaism and Islam) were often forced into uncomfortable discussion about their values of faith, hope, and charity related to the two American groups first seen as being at higher risk for HIV infection men who had sex with other men and injecting drug users. This was a special concern for the Catholic Church and some other religious organizations, that have unilaterally rejected the use of condoms, even though this position goes directly against the recommendation of public health officials as a proven protection against HIV infection. The first U.S. Surgeon General to deal directly with AIDS, Edward Everett Coop, responded by stating: We are guardians of public health, not guardians of public morality.
In the first two decades of the American AIDS epidemic, faith-based groups that did not identify as a Gay church have often become involved with the GLBTQ community to provide emotional, spiritual, and physical support to those living with HIV. For example, this has included provision of hospices for people with AIDS. Even among those institutions that are known for their interpretation of the religious-based rejection of same-sex intimacy as being unacceptable, many support groups were created that attempt to integrate GBLTQ members into their faiths. The oldest such group is the Catholic Dignity/USA. Other examples would be the Mormon Affirmation, the Jewish OrthoGays , and the Islamic Al-Fatiha Foundation, just to name a few now associated with mainstream institutions. However, most of these institutions are not officially affiliated with their parent organizations.
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The first faith-based organization known as the gay church, is now called the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, or UFMCC. It was founded in 1968, long before the AIDS pandemic began. Another significant part of Gay history has been the appointment of the Reverend Gene Robinson as the Episcopal Church s first openly gay bishop. Gay History has also recorded intense discussions on the lives of the GBLTQ community, the role of the non-gay church, and its involvement in HIV issues both in America and globally. AIDS has played a great part in terms of opening up the awareness of mainstream religions of their GLBTQ members.