Straight believers in “gay” churches

Tiffany Stanley reports on the experience of straight people who are worshiping in congregations that are predominantly gay or lesbian. The report describes the experience of people in synagogues, main-line congregations and even in the predominantly LBGT Metropolitan Community Church denomination.

There’s a mention of St. Thomas’s Dupont Circle in Washington DC:

“While some congregations — such as those that belong to the 43,000-member Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) — were formed to deliberately minister to gays and lesbians, others took a more organic approach as their surroundings changed. That’s what happened at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, in the heart of Washington’s gay Dupont Circle neighborhood.

Kristin Jones, 56, stumbled upon St. Thomas nearly 25 years ago when it was, as she put it, full of elderly church ladies and young gay men. She came because she liked to sing in the choir; she stayed even though women — let alone straight women — are still the minority.

The church has seen Jones through single motherhood; 60 members threw her a baby shower as she prepared to adopt her first of two daughters from China. With time, ‘I started thinking of St. Thomas as my tribe,’ she said.

Even with the support, being the straight sheep in a gay flock is not without its predictable oddities. Ivan Zimmerman, 51, remembers congregants assuming he was gay during his early days at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a renowned predominantly gay 700-member synagogue in New York City.

‘I would joke and say I’ve come to terms with my heterosexuality,’ Zimmerman said.

The minority status that straight members experience provides a taste of what GLBT people face daily — and that can even be appealing, straight worshippers said. Avrum Weiss and his wife were the only heterosexual couple when they joined Atlanta’s mostly gay Bet Haverim synagogue; now, half of the congregation’s 200 members are straight.

‘Judaism is rooted in a long history of oppression and suffering,’ Weiss said. ‘… When you sit in a room with people who are in that moment living through oppression, it’s a dramatically different experience.'”

Read the full article here in USA Today.

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