I noticed on a friend’s Facebook page that it was International Day Against Homophobia (thanks for the heads up Jarred). When I checked out the link, I discovered that it is a Quebec organization that is hosting the site. Part of their rationale for encouraging the observation of this day is that, “It’s about all people hoping for a prejudice-free world that can provide a place at the table for everyone regardless of their sexual orientation.” Some of the other language on the site might have some more conservative Christians feeling a bit uncomfortable or concerned about the underlying tone of gay affirming dogma. Quebec has its own unique secular culture that has a very strong anti-homophobia voice. Some religious critics have identified intolerance within this sentiment. Here at Bridging the Gap, we are concerned about the kind of generous hospitality that will ensure all people have a seat at the table – including the secular humanist and the conservative Christian and everyone in-between – that we would find a place for conversation around common values and goals in experiencing and nurturing shalom for the common good in our neighbourhoods and communities. In that sense, we stand against the kind of homophobia that excludes, belittles, creates unsafe environments….. as well as the overt violence of bullying, discrimination, verbal or physical abuse. And it is our hope that others, from many different places on the spectrum of belief or sexuality, would join us in this stand. I sat with an individual today who was largely closeted in their life and church. This person shared the experiences of hearing in their church inappropriate jokes at gay people’s expense, of more overt gay-bashing, of feeling like those who did know of their orientation were careless with confidentiality or paranoid of further disclosure. This individual’s tears seared my mind and heart today – even though such a conversation is not new to me. This individual needs a safe place – to be real and honest and fully known. This person feels like their place at the table is really just a big lie – so it isn’t really a place at the table at all. A study conducted last month by Leger Marketing found that 96% of Canadians know what homophobia is. And 82% of Canadians know at least one gay person. As this individual wiped their tears in my office today, they recounted how their friends who knew of their orientation never spoke up when others made offensive remarks. We know better don’t we. Break the silence. Speak up. Stand up. Don’t let your silence perpetuate unsafe and unwelcome environments. And if you name the name of Jesus – be the change you want to see in the church. It begins with you.