No one really knows if a picture is worth a thousand words, but there’s no doubt that the combination of pictures and words is powerful — and a new exhibit is using them both to fight religion-based homophobia.
“We Have Faith: LGBT Clergy Speak Out” is the latest effort of the Family Diversity Projects, which since 1996 has created photo-and-text exhibits dealing with various aspects of diversity. The Amherst, Mass.–based organization has put the spotlight on LGBT families (“Love Makes a Family”), multiracial families (“Of Many Colors”), transgender people (“Pioneering Voices”), and more.
“For years we have been focused on spreading the word about equality for all families,” says Peggy Gillespie, cofounder and codirector, with Gigi Kaeser, of Family Diversity Projects. “What we kept coming back to was a vast array of homophobia and transphobia, a lot of it coming from religious organizations.”
So Gillespie, who identifies as queer, and Kaeser, who is straight, set out to craft an exhibit that would counter the anti-LGBT messages coming from some religious bodies, featuring LGBT and allied clergy and lay leaders from a variety of faiths, including several Christian denominations, Judaism, and Islam. Among those who appear in it, photographed by Kaeser, are Episcopal bishop Gene Robinson, Presbyterian minister Jane Spahr, Rabbi Steven Greenberg, and Imam Daayiee Abdullah, of about 40 in total.
“We have these incredible, powerful, and articulate voices of people who are at the forefront of the faith and LGBT equality movements,” Gillespie says.
The exhibit had a preview showing in Provincetown, Mass., over the summer, and was formally launched in October with shows in five cities: Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, St. Paul, Minn., and Washington, D.C. Gillespie and Kaeser want to make it available to any church, school, library, or other venue that wants to host it, and toward that end they have initiated a Kickstarter campaign, aiming to raise $25,000 by December 15. The funds will underwrite exhibit rental, shipping, photo reproduction, and a variety of other costs, and will assure a wide audience for the project.
While many of the houses of worship that host “We Have Faith” will likely be LGBT-affirming ones, in many settings the exhibit also will reach people who are in the “movable middle” and even some who are hostile to LGBT people — or those who have experienced hostility, Gillespie says.
“We hope to save lives,” she says. “We hope some kids will see themselves in this and know they’re not an abomination.”
Click here to learn more about the Kickstarter campaign and here for more information about Family Diversity Projects. Watch the Kickstarter video below, and find more images from the show on the following pages.