By Robert Miailovich, Dignity/Washington member
On November 6, 2013, a delegation of LGBT activists from Russia met at the Dignity Center with five members of Dignity/Washington. The five visitors and two interpreters were on a multi-city U.S. tour to discuss the status of LGBT rights protections in this country. Their objective was to examine methods of effective public advocacy and peaceful activism in support of LGBT rights, and to establish contacts and networking with U.S. LGBT rights organizations. The visitors were in the U.S. under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State's International Visitor Leadership Program, and the Institute of International Education in Washington set up the program.
Dignity/Washington is proud of the unexpected honor of being asked to discuss our work with the Russian group, and hopes that the email and web site addresses that were exchanged can be put to good use in the future.
By Allen Rose, Dignity/Washington member
Dignity/Washington and Dignity/Northern Virginia again joined forces this year to represent their respective communities in the 27th Annual Washington, D.C. AIDS Walk held on October 26. We use this occasion each year to support the Whitman Walker Clinic in its efforts to educate about, as well as to treat and eradicate, HIV/AIDS. We also remember Jimmy DePersis who coordinated this event for our communities for many years until the last year of his life in 2009. Congratulations to Dignity member Eddie Weingart who raised over $1,000 for this effort, and to Rodrigo Lozada and Francisco Carvalho who participated in the AIDS Walk for the first time. It was also a pleasure to have Ruthie Shipps and her parents Anne and Karl joins us once again.
By Kenneth Dowling, Dignity/Washington member
On October 24, Catholics in their 20s and 30s packed St Augustine's Church in central D.C. to celebrate the Eucharist and hear Cardinal Donald Wuerl preach on the New Evangelization. Organized by the Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington, and with young adult groups of various parishes represented, a half-dozen Dignity/Washington young adults also attended. In a city where same-sex marriage has been legal for four years, the young Dignitarians were relieved that, perhaps taking a cue from Pope Francis, the sermon, intentions, and announcements steered clear of “pelvic issues,” with the Cardinal only making a vague reference to an outside world that did not embrace Church teaching.
After Mass, Dignity/Washington Board member Kenneth Dowling, 24, led the delegation in greeting Cardinal Wuerl at the church exit. “We are the young adults of Dignity/Washington, and we are happy to be here with you.” Smiling, His Eminence replied, “I’m happy to be here with you too.” Wondering if the Cardinal had heard them correctly, the Dignity/ Washington members headed to the St. Augustine school gym to mingle with other young Catholics at a party that resembled a cross between an annual parish festival and a Catholic middle school dance. Expecting glares and arguments after revealing which “parish” they were from, they were pleasantly surprised to receive reactions ranging from polite curiosity to uninhibited enthusiasm.
Declining to make acts of protest or even to wear rainbow pins, the Dignity/Washington young adults felt it was important to be peacefully present, to count themselves among the young Catholics of the archdiocese, and to claim their Church citizenship, by attending the Mass seemingly “in the lion’s den.” Gathered around the Eucharistic table of unity, they prayed that some of those young “lions” in the congregation will grow to see them as fully Catholic.
By Henry Huot, Dignity/Washington Board member
On November 17, Dignity/Washington hosted a special presentation by Dr. Renato Lings, internationally renowned linguist, theologian, and author of Love Lost in Translation: Homosexuality and the Bible. Using ample examples from ten years of research for his book, he posited that early mistranslations of key passages, generally assumed to deal with or comment on homoerotic relationships, continue to fuel homophobia and intolerance to the present day. He advocated for correcting the translations of these Biblical texts to assure that they are as faithful to the original languages as possible. In doing so, many of these texts reveal the beauty of homoerotic love, each in their own historical, cultural contexts. He demonstrated that this is painstaking scholarly work that can uncover surprising new insights, if approached with a commitment to abstain from one’s biases, as much as this is ever possible. Dr. Lings spoke passionately and masterfully about his topic in a way that was refreshing and engaging. These lectures are free and open to the public, and another will be announced in the near future. Dr. Lings’ book is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all media outlets.
It was announced on October 24 that Dignity/Washington Board member Eddie Weingart was voted 2013 Best Massage by readers of the Washington Blade that sponsored the 11th Annual Best of Gay D.C Contest. For Deep Knead Massage Therapy and Body Work.
Wrote the Blade: “For Eddie Weingart, ‘making people feel whole is the number one thing,’ in his massage work. Having survived a serious car accident in 2001, he knows first-hand about pain management. He says his work, which incorporates both ancient and modern techniques, is tailored to ‘bring a wellness of body, mind and spirit.’ Based in Silver Spring [Maryland], though he has many clients in D.C., he guesses about 95 percent of his clients are LGBT. He’s been in the area three years and averages 50-60 massages per week.”