good deeds

Wait. A Christian Church Donated $200k to Create This LGBT Homeless Youth Center?


Well isn’t this a feel good story about a Christian church and the gay community: The charity arm of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, which maintains 146 congregations, just donated $200,000 to Carl Siciliano’s Ali Forney Center to create a new 16-bed shelter at the Church of St. Andrew’s in Queens for homeless LGBT youth. Says EDLI’s Bishop Lawrence Provenzano of the donation: “I think it’s an obligation to care for God’s people. This is basic nuts-and-bolts Christianity.” Beautiful.

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  • Keith Kimmel

    Yeah, lets get them sleeping at the church too so that they can work on converting them 24/7. Poor kids.

  • romeo

    Keith, I think the Episcopalians are cooler than that, at least most of them. I see homeless LGBT in Hollywood all the time. There’s a real need for something for them other than the usual homeless shelters, even if they can get in one of those.

    Love your righteous anger, though, Keith.

  • Nicholas Goldsmith

    After having worked with the local Episcopalian Church on Queer issues, and having the local Episcopalian Church attend two of our “Big Gay Callouts” here at Purdue, I trust the Episcopalians quite a bit. While I am not a Christian, I would refer anybody questioning Christianity to the Episcopalians, as I feel they represent something Christianity should aspire to be.

    I don’t think this is an operation to attempt to change homeless Queer children. I honestly believe this is the Episcopalians stepping up. Just like the Episcopalians are speaking out in Uganda against the gay criminalization bill.

  • Joe

    One can’t help but be curious, if there wasn’t so much contempt for glbt folks from christians, would these children be homeless in the first place?

  • Keith Kimmel

    I am painfully aware of the need for shelters set aside specifically for queers. We have lots of them here and we currently have nothing as it stands.

    Maybe I am just being paranoid. I distrust religious leaders universally and I double distrust the ones that say they are on my (the gay) side. I suppose alot of it is my environment which I do admit is very bent towards situations where religious “leaders” are always trying to take the gay out of people, if not openly endorsing homo-bashing. I admit that I don’t even trust our gay churches and I nearly went through the roof when I found out that our community center is likely going to be hatching in space shared with a gay church.

    Oddly enough, we don’t have many Episcopalian churches here the more I think of it in Oklahomo. Maybe thats why. They are the good religious folks.

  • Taylor Siluwé

    Let’s not look a gift horse (or church) in the mouth. Like you, Keith, I distrust all religious orgs and their people – but with all the stories out there – this one’s a goodie. :-)

  • Frank

    Keith – not all Christians hate you or don’t support equal rights.

    This is so great! I hope that these kids see that they are loved for who they are and the only change they need is a home.

    FYI the Episcopal church doesn’t actively recruit like most other churches (although I personally think they should) so these kids will get shelter because it is the Christian thing to do and not because it comes at a price.

    I’m an ex-Catholic and am currently an Episcopalian and I’m very happy. My church will Marry my partner and I, we are treated like any other committed couple and our love is never treated as second class.

    The Pope has said that unhappy Episcopalians (who don’t support women and as priests and GLBT rights) can become Catholics, but remember this is a two-way street :)

  • jay

    This is an undeniably good thing. Keith: if you indulge your own paranoia and dogma, instead of focusing on improving lives of the oppressed, that’s the m.o. of the people you hate. Stop it. This is about homeless kids being helped, nothing else. What’s going on inside your head is your job to fix, or not, but what’s going on around these poor kids is what matters here. I’m glad the incredibly progressive and pro-gay Episcopal congregation cut a check to help. Now, it’s your turn.

  • AndrewW

    Episcopalians are chasing out the “literal-interpretation” conservative members of their denomination. About 1/3 of all Episcopalians are leaving for Catholicism or other denominations that respect the Anglican Communion. The result is (hopefully) a Christian denomination that is more than “gay-friendly,” but one that actually dismisses ancient dogma regarding homosexuals.

    Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians are all doing the same: dividing into two groups – conservative and progressive. At least we’ll be able to tell which Christians are letting go of their bigoted belief systems and joining humanity. This is very promising for the LGBT Community and should be welcomed, even celebrated.

  • dvlaries

    Maybe I’m just in the mood to allow to the benefit of the doubt; I can’t be cynical every waking moment. And though too rare, it is possible to be ordained in some religion and still remember that Christ’s greatest commandment was “Love one another as I have loved you.”

    Here’s hoping :)

  • Jay

    Folks, this story is NOT, NOT, about a religious shelter for homeless gay kids. It’s about a shelter for gay kids that received a donation of $200K, and yes it came from a religious congregation: one that is incredibly pro gay.

    This is a secular center for homeless gay kids. If you have a problem with religion, well bully for you, but zip it and make your own donation.

    This holiday season (oops, didn’t mean to enrage anyone with a secular reference to a religious span of days on the calendar), let’s maybe pause for a moment and actually check out the Center that received this financial support, and consider making a contribution. Or, find a similar charity near to you and contribute or volunteer:

  • schlukitz

    Why does the old adage “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts” come to mind?

  • Jay

    Because you’re a douche, that’s why.

  • mojojojo

    Now, now Jay. Lets not attack each other.

  • Keith Kimmel

    “Because you’re a douche, that’s why.”

    I love it when the conversation devolves into such unintelligent babble. Also, Jay, I have been part of the solution for a time now.

  • Jay

    Sorry, but anyone who, without a shred of insight, snarks at an outrageously pro-gay charity giving $200K to a homeless shelter for gay kids = something, pick your own favorite word.

    Schlukitz (and Keith), you got Google where you are? Facts are fun:

    – Page one of their latest Diocese newsletter has a Rev. in Haiti speaking out about the right of a lesbian to lead the country. He also published an article in the largest newspaper in Haiti, opposing homophobia.
    – New Bishop Provenzano, in addition to this huge $200K donation to a homeless shelter for gay kids, was a vocal supporter of gay rights when being considered for Bishop (which is subject to a vote). Newsday called him “a Massachusetts rector who said he firmly supports gay rights and wants to welcome more immigrants into the church.”
    – Bishop Provenzano is a former Catholic priest who left that church, one year after he was ordained, saying among other criticism of his former church: “I have a lot of problems with denominations who will not own the fact they have gay clergy.”
    – Bishop Provenzano wrote about recent efforts by Rome to lure conservative Episcopaleans back to Catholicism: “At the heart of all this is the reality that the Roman Catholic Church is willing to welcome angry, reactionary, misogynistic, homophobic people.”
    – Outgoing Bishop Orris J. Walker, Jr. was a longstanding and vocal supporter on gay issues. He wrote and preached for gay rights, and made a point of attending the consecration of openly gay Bishop Eugene Robinson in 2003. (He was also Af-Am, which didn’t hurt when making the equations between civil rights struggles.)

    Yeah, lots to be suspicious of there! Clearly their motivations in cutting a check to a secular homeless shelter for gay kids should be met with snark, suspicion and cynicism! We cannot allow such things to go uncriticized!

  • Steve

    Clean, safe shelter is good for kids who would otherwise be on the street. Some of them might even finish school, instead of becoming prostitutes. We all know that gay kids are much more likely than others to be victimized if they are left entirely to their own resources on the street.

    The Episcopal church is very different from the Catholic or other right-wing churches. If the Episcopals become any more liberal, there won’t be any need for MCC churches any more. Most Episcopal clergy are really trying to help. And, for the most part, they are succeeding.

  • B

    In No. 7 · Frank wrote, “Keith – not all Christians hate you or don’t support equal rights.”

    Do a google search for “Secret Mark” and you’ll find which contains some early christian writings that were more or less suppressed or ignored. Here’s an example (you don’t have to beleive what it says – rather it is an indication of the diversity of beliefs):

    “And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me.’ But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered, went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway a great cry was heard from the tomb. And going near, Jesus rolled away the stone from the door of the tomb. And straightaway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb, they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do, and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan.”

    Sounds kind of gay, doesn’t it – like they spent the night in the bathhouse on the other side of the Jordan river. :-)

    Don’t assume all Christians are the same – and they were even more diverse way back when (before the Romans made Christianity the official state religion and pruned out all the fringes).

  • Keith Kimmel

    I’m sorry Jay, but I am an extremely busy person. Between trying to make enough money to avoid freezing to death and my advocacy, which seems to have become a full-time job somehow. I choose what I make time for in my life, religion is not one of those things. When I encounter it, I condemn it because based on many numerous past experiences, there is no reason not to. Until there is a reason to do otherwise presented to me, there is no need to re-evaluate the situation.

    I don’t have time for an institution that – historically – has been full of bigotry, lies, bullshit and insantiy ever since it came about nearly 2,000 years ago. And ALL Christian faiths suffer from this to some extent. I don’t know much about the Episcopalian church. Until tonight, it was just another wing of the bigoted Christ church and it got the same status. I was not aware that they are really pro-gay. I will look into that more. Episcopalians may be pro-gay, but they still suffer from the same problem that all Christian churches do: they believe in things that do not exist.

    I am not perfect. Perhaps I judge the Episcopalians unfairly and jumped to a conclusion regarding their motives in this case. Whatever. I’ll look into it when I have the time. Thats not right now. But thanks for calling my attention to it in any event. Right now, I am too busy trying to ensure that Sarah Palin does not become our next president, getting an organization setup so that we can have a community center here in our town, working to keep a gay social club working for the local 18 to 25ish crowd so they have something besides the bars to have fun at, setting up a years worth of political fundraisers for an important candidate here and finally, trying to fundraise for all of these organizations. Its serious work and takes alot of time.

    I’ll make sure I didn’t snub the Episcopalians unjustly later. What I am working on now is, to be quite honest, more important.

  • jay

    And what does any of that have to do with a check being cut to the tune of $200K for a homeless shelter for gay kids?

    Yeah, you sound like “an extremely busy person,” except when it comes to opportunities to troll a comment thread with nearly 600 words of sour spew in reaction to somebody helping gay kids in from the street. Even when someone does a little research for you, saving your precious minutes, you gloss over it, in an effort to indulge your own issues in response to a simple piece of good humanitarian news.

    And I think it’s sad and shameful.

  • sal(the original)

    well maybe they can spread the message of tolerance to the parents who kick some of these kids out

  • B

    In No. 19, Keith Kimmel wrote, “I’m sorry Jay, but I am an extremely busy person. Between trying to make enough money to avoid freezing to death and my advocacy, which seems to have become a full-time job somehow. I choose what I make time for in my life, religion is not one of those things. When I encounter it, I condemn it because based on many numerous past experiences, there is no reason not to. Until there is a reason to do otherwise presented to me, there is no need to re-evaluate the situation.”

    Nobody should blame you for ignoring religion, but that doesn’t mean you should be hostile to religious groups in general just because some behave very badly. To put it in perspective, someone who is an “extremely busy person,” using what is basically your argument, could base his opinion of gays on the minority of gays (mostly closet cases) who hit on straight men in restrooms because they are too scared to be seen going into or out of a gay bar or club. What would you call such a person if he tried to justify his homophobic beliefs by saying, “I condemn it because based on many numerous past experiences, there is no reason not to. Until there is a reason to do otherwise presented to me, there is no need to re-evaluate the situation.”

  • Attmay

    “It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.” — Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    The Episcopalian Church is not our enemy. Our enemies are the ones who, you know, actually oppose our interests. Mormons, Catholics, Southern Baptists, radical Muslims.

  • Keith Kimmel

    B, I don’t see any comparison between religion and homosexuals. ALL of the religious people I have encountered to date fall into a one or more of a few categories, none of them flattering or positive. I have also met alot of queer folks, most of them are decent people with a few bad apples here and there. So there is no real comparison.

    I have yet to see a single group of religious people worthy of my time or support to date. This group MAY be it. I promise to look into it, really, Jay and B. I will. Really. As for why I dedicated 600 words to it (did you actually count them, lol), well, thats because you asked a question and I posted an answer. It took that many words to express it.

    None the less, lets not make this thread about me and what I think. That was never the intention. I sort of got sucked into a discussion that is distracting from the original article. Lets celebrate this for the good news that it apparently is. I’ve made my points.

  • B

    No. 24 · Keith Kimmel “B, I don’t see any comparison between religion and homosexuals. ALL of the religious people I have encountered to date fall into a one or more of a few categories, none of them flattering or positive. I have also met alot of queer folks, most of them are decent people with a few bad apples here and there. So there is no real comparison.”

    The point, Keith, is that you can find straight guys (less so today with more gays being out) who could only tell that someone was gay when that person hit on them in a restroom. So, their personal experiences selected a small subpopulation of gays, and they generalized that experience to assume it was representative of all gays. You are making the same sort of mistake. The “religious people” you notice are probably the fire-and-brimstone evangelical/street-preacher types who make a lot of noise about sin, while you get no input at all from the quiet ones who practice their religion but don’t try to force it on others.

  • Jen

    I grew up baptist so, raise your glasses please for a good bit of self-loathing! I have left the church and come back to it now. For me, there is something beautiful in the roots of christianity. This new-age malarky being capitalized on by “men of the cloth” is ludicris.

    The theology in it’s purest is perfect (complete, not w/o flaw). Put the needs of others before the needs of self. The need to love will surpass the desire to hate. I believe that is what is happening in many of these denominations.

    I’ve always myself until recently compared gays that are in the “church” to battered wives that stay with their husbands. It’s not completely like that though and I now understand that.

  • edgyguy1426

    Love your posts, Jay.

  • Jay

    Keith: I appreciate your apparent willingness to revisit your views re: the Episcopalians, and their undoubtedly good deed in cutting a check for $200K to a homeless shelter for queer kids.

    But look at the struggle that was required, just to shift you to neutral.

    You are also evading the inherent truth in B’s message, which is that intolerance and stereotypes are never a good thing.

    What if you needed to accomplish something, in your activism, and having hundreds of people of faith speaking in support of you would help achieve a goal?

    If you can’t envision such a thing, well, pretend you’re a homeless shelter for gay kids, you lost all your state and city funding, and someone whispers in your ear “you might want to check out the grant application for the Episcopal Church.”

    Before today, what would your response have been to that advice?

    Everyone here is realistic about oppression and its sources. But the world is also changing, and if you continue with your blanket assumptions about Christians, Jews, Muslims, or indeed any group of human beings, you’ll only shortchange your own activism.

    And frankly, I have a problem with the knee-jerk anti-religion reflex of too many longtime activists. By indulging our own hurts of the past, we’re ignoring the potential support that exists today. Don’t cut off my nose, please, despite your face. A coalition of pro-gay-marriage ministers arguably put marriage over the top in DC recently.

    Politics is the art of making a list of every conceivable supporter, and pursuing them, not making a list of personal grievances.

    It’s high time we, as a community, became more mature, nuanced, and smart about this topic.

  • Keith Kimmel

    Jay, where do you live if you don’t mind me asking? Just a city and state will be sufficient. I am going to bet you are a coast dweller or if you are from ’round here, you are a relatively new transplant. I have lived in the midwest/southwest all of my life except for a brief time in PA when I attended a private school. Its a little different here than California or even Texas or Florida.

    I admit that I am guilty of being intolerant of religion. Religion keeps entire nations impoverished, elects people to office whose only qualification is a subscription to a given version of faith and has killed more human beings over the course of history than anything else. Religion allows stupid people in large groups to become a very dangerous weapon which is far too often co-opted for nothing short of pure evil. I think religion is dangerous, it allows people to engage in activities they otherwise would not engage in for no reason other than they have been given a justification to do so though and because of religion.

    I honestly believe that modern religion – as a whole and in all its many forms – is a plague upon humanity. Now, some branches of the Christian faith are more or less repugnant than others. I am very open to the idea that Episcopalians may be one of the less repugnant forms of Christianity. Like I said, I will look into that possibility. But they still go around telling people that there is a man in the sky who has power and control over them who will send them to hell if they act up, which is pure and utter bullshit. Sure, they may not talk about hellfire and damnation as often as some others, but they still believe in it.

    Honestly, if you look at all the things Hitler did objectively, you can find a handful of things that were proper and just. Just because one branch of Christianity does one good thing, or a few good things, does not mean that the overall existence of the institution as a whole is any more acceptable or proper. Nor does it mean that we should forget about 2,000+ years of persecuting everyone who doesn’t agree with them.

    I am not perfect. I have my flaws, you seem to have found one of them. I admitted this once before, but perhaps it needs to be repeated. But I have personally experienced enough misery at the hands of religion (as have many of my fellow homos) to more than justify my ill feels towards the institution as a whole. So you have to excuse me if I find the fact that Episcopalians are now suddenly telling everyone they are on our side to be suspect. If you have been burned multiple times by fire, and someone comes to you saying they have invented a type of fire that doesn’t burn you when you touch it, are you going to take them at face value? Only if you’re an idiot. I try not to be an idiot whenever possible. Sometimes I fail at that, too.

    The point you make regarding assuming that I was a homeless shelter that lost my funding is an interesting one. I honestly don’t know what I would do. I could tell you what you want to hear or I could take the oppositional position for fun, but honestly, I don’t know what I would do. It would be a challenge for me, thats for sure. With our commcenter committee wanting to go and co-locate with a gay church, something tells me I am going to get my chance to work through that issue. Maybe it will be good for me. Some of the tasks I dread the most (and I *do* dread walking into a church five days a week and working with its leadership on an intimate level) wind up re-shaping me the most.

    Not so many years ago, I used to be a hardcore racist. Yeah, it seems funny now when I think about it. A gay guy who hated black people. I hated black people with a passion and I had bought into every stereotype there was. Then I was put into a position where I was forced to interact with a large cross section of black folks on a project. Were there some people that fit the stereotype? You bet. But there were many who broke the mold in such a manner that I had to rethink my position on the issue. I could have walked away from the project, but I decided to prove to myself that I could do it and I decided that accomplishing the project’s goals was more important. So I did it. Seven months, four days a week. It would be accurate to say that experience changed my life in a very profound way. I have no problem admitting my mistakes, but this is not something I bring up often because quite honestly, most people can’t handle the conversation.

    Perhaps I am falling into the same trap as our enemies fall into when they think about us. I don’t know and to be honest. Maybe that makes me ignorant or a religioniot or whatever. Maybe I am being old fashioned or maybe I am just flat out wrong about my approach to this whole thing. I don’t know, its something I am going to have to think about. This thread has me thinking and I will see how the new information I have on the Episcopalians fits into the whole thing. But I cant make up my mind in 24 hours and before doing my research.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Homer: I’m not looking for fame or glory. I’m just trying to buy that stairway to heaven Jesus sang of.

    Flanders: That was Led Zeppelin.

    Homer: Tcch. Get back to your bong, hippie.

  • Totakikay

    I give a BIG hug to Episcopal churches, and other humanistic/progressive Christian churches out there in the World. And I commend this Episcopal Diocese from Long Island, New York for showing some compassion and shelter for homeless Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth; the very same youth that is being rejected and condemned by dogmatic/conservative Christian churches, the irony! I hope and even urge the leaders/members of the Episcopal Diocese in Long Island to forge a bridge of understanding and acceptance with the families and friends of these LGBT youth. It will prove better and spiritual on the long run, and maybe New York’s PFLAG could help.

  • Leona

    (wow that Keith seems busier than ever)

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