By Tierra Ortiz-Rodriguez, Dignity Houston member, Community Organizer
Dignity/Houston is on a mission to raise awareness about the need for tolerance of sexual minorities both inside and outside the church. We had several community outreach events in November specifically aimed at raising consciousness about transgender issues, and increasing awareness as to the availability of LGBT-affirming spiritual resources in the Houston area.
Dignity/Houston partnered with the Lesbian Health Initiative (LHI) to host a table at the biannual Health Fair. On the first Saturdays of June and November each year, the LHI provides free preventative tests and services, such as mammograms, pap smears, well-woman exams, and heart and vascular risk assessments, to uninsured and underinsured lesbian women and trans men. The LHI is committed to eliminating barriers to healthcare and to promoting wellness for lesbians.
We were thrilled to participate in this year’s Health Fair because so many members of our community are not aware of the many LGBT-affirming spiritual resources available in the Houston area.
On Monday, November 5, Dignity/Houston sent four of its members to feed approximately 200 students at the University of Houston's A.D. Bruce Religion Center. Every Monday and Wednesday, a different campus or community ministry serves the student body by offering a free meal and fostering mealtime conversation on a variety of interfaith issues.
This is the first time an LGBT religious group fed students on campus! Our goal was to present Dignity/Houston as a welcoming space of inclusion where LGBT Catholics and allies can worship and experience fellowship without fear. Through this initiative, we were able to raise awareness about the need to open the door for all LGBT people of faith to participate openly and actively in religious life as equals in their respective faith communities.
On November 10, several members of the transgender community attended our service and spoke afterwards about their unique experiences as transgender people. This “meet and greet” offered our members the opportunity to become more knowledgeable about transgender issues and needs so that we can more boldly proclaim ourselves as a united and inclusive community.
In observance of National Transgender Day of Remembrance, Dignity/Houston participated in two community memorials. We were honored to be invited to stand in solidarity with the transgender community by participating in these services, one at the University of Houston on November 17, and one at the University of Houston-Clear Lake on November 20. At the Clear Lake vigil, Dignity/Houston led the community in prayer and remembrance.