A church in Beloit, Wis., hosted its third annual Thanksgiving dinner for LGBTQ locals who may be unable to celebrate with their biological families.
The free event was organized by the Yellow Brick Road advocacy group and held at the First Congregational Church in Beloit, a city of about 30,000 people in southern Wisconsin.
Yellow Brick Road organizers told the local CNN affiliate that they held the event to give LGBTQ people rejected by their biological families a place to go. “They can’t go home to their families because of who they choose to be so we give them a safe place to come have dinner and meet new people,” said Yellow Brick Road president Jen Schuler.
“Having someone not accept you is really hard but when it’s someone as close with your family it’s much harder,” added Yellow Brick Road leader Marilyn Schuh.
“We all deserve a place at a Thanksgiving table where we feel loved and accepted. Thanksgiving is about coming together and giving thanks for those people we love in our life. We couldn't think of anyone else we would rather spend this day with than you!” reads the event’s description on Facebook.
Organizers told the CNN affiliate that the event has grown over the years to include straight allies too.
"This is about equal rights. This is about being a human and having human decency towards one another,” said Schuler.
Yellow Brick Road hosts a number of other yearly events, including a costume ball in the spring and Pridefest in the summer.
Events like these can help LGBTQ people feel connected and supported in the face of ostracism. In a 2013 Pew survey, about four in ten LGBTQ people reported being rejected by a friend or family member. LGBTQ youth are at a much higher risk of becoming homeless.
And lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults who reported high levels of teenage rejection from parents were more likely to have attempted suicide, to have depression, and to use drugs than those who didn’t, according to a study published in Pediatrics in 2009.