The massive civil rights March on Washington, D.C., in April was a chance for many gay and lesbian Christians not only to take a public stand for human rights but also to embrace openly their spirituality and "demand a right to God."
Gay and lesbian Christians often feel "very isolated and very alone" in their churches, and the march was "one place where people could come and participate with a large group of like people," according to Christian Yoder, former coordinator of the Brethren/Mennonite Council for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, which sponsored a gathering for Mennonites and Brethren the night before the march--one of many religious events during the weekend. For many people, Yoder said, the weekend was "a real important act of self-affirmation, and it was important for people to participate with their church group."
For some participants, the march was simply an opportunity to proclaim their faith, even in the face of those who would condemn them. Candas Barnes, a member of Washington, D.C.'s Faith Temple, said she took part in the events "to remind people that even though the mainstream churches have tried to steal God from us, to tell us that God doesn't want us, in fact the word of God says that whosoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life."
Barnes, who plans to enter Howard University Divinity School next year, said that although she didn't choose her sexuality--"No one with any semblance of sanity would choose the life of homosexuality!"--she feels "blessed to know that I've been given who I am as a gift." She added, "I choose to find peace in who I am, and use the peace I've found to help others to know God. That's the commission for every Christian: to help spread the gospel. I want to make sure that's communicated in particular to African-American gay and lesbian people."