Each February LGBT History Month takes place across the world to celebrate the lives and achievements of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans community.
This year’s theme is religion, belief and philosophy, so we’re celebrating the faith leaders who strive to break down barriers and make religious communities more safe and accepting for all.
Zenju is a Buddhist leader in California. As a Black, openly bisexual, woman of colour Zenju doesn’t fit the typical profile of a Buddhist monk, but this hasn’t stopped her. She is a notable author, philosopher and speaker.
She has dedicated her time to ensuring Buddhism is as welcoming and accessible as possible, and says: “Women, people of colour, anyone who is marginalized, who might be murdered for who they are — how does that group of people live a full life? That has always been my question and it is ongoing.”
Rachel Mann is a priest from Manchester. Rachel is a trans woman and a lesbian, and was honoured with the title of Minor Canon at Manchester for her work as resident poet at the cathedral. Rachel continues to be a priest for Didsbury in south Manchester, alongside her projects to support LGBT Christian young people.
She says: “I sensed God was there but more than that, God did not reject me. I know part of the reason I resisted for so long was the sense of how could God love someone who identified as a lesbian, who was trans. I had imbibed so much of that prejudice we see in the Church.”
Reuben Zellman is an America rabbi and a trans person. He struggled to be accepted by his community and feared he could never be ordained as a rabbi, but action was taken through the Jewish Reform movement’s Commission on Social Action which in 2013 passed a resolution in favour of transgender and bisexual inclusion. Alongside his responsibilities as a rabbi, Reuben also writes advice guides for synagogues and religious leaders on how to make the Jewish community more accepting of trans people.
Looking for support
If you’re looking for support within your religious community as an LGBT person, or you’d like to find out more, we recommend the following organisations:
Making change from within
At St Mungo’s we’re serious about LGBT+ rights and creating welcoming, accessible spaces for our clients, staff, and volunteers – not just during LGBT History Month but all year round.
As part of Stonewall’s Workplace Equality Index, we’ve recently been awarded their prestigious Network of the Year accolade for our LGBT*Q+ Staff Network. But of course our work is never finished.
Our LGBT*Q+ Network is hosting four events throughout the month to celebrate. These will be held at our Recovery College in London. Take a look at our prospectus to find out more. And keep up to date with all of our LGBT-related work through the Network’s Twitter account.
We wish all our supporters, staff and clients a very happy LGBT History Month, and hope for a more accepting and safe future for our communities.