Forum Italian Christian Homosexuals in Albano Laziale (Italy, 26-28 March 2010)
Enric Vilà, Co-President European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups, May 2010
On 26-28th March 2010 at Albano Laziale (nearby Rome) took place the first Forum Italian Christian homosexuals, catholics and evangelical, under the motto “The truth shall make you free” (John 8:32), lesbian and gay Christians in church and society.
This event has been unique in Italy: about 120 participants (catholics and evangelicals) from all territories, northern Val d’Aosta to the southern Sicily.
A team of 20 volunteers were involved in organization and up to 17 italian homosexual groups of believers were represented. There were 2 pre-Forum (men and women) of interpersonal interaction with laboratories, a library themed stand, 3 thematic workshops.
It ended with an inclusive ecumenical prayer service which initiated the Easter Week. Christian homosexual groups is a growing reality in all italian land, an archipelago of estimated 700 lesbians and gays as shows the report presented.
A faith out of the catacombs: The 1st report on groups of Christian homosexuals in Italy (2010)
During the Forum there was a presentation of the first report on christian homosexual groups in Italy. The research had been realized by volunteers of Gionata project Faith and Homosexuality and finished March 2010. A quantitative survey with a questionnaire was answered electronically during the last term 2009 by 24 groups (local Christian homosexuals working in Italy before October 2009).
The report points out that homosexual christian presence is absolutely original, with its specificity, enrich the church by offering a pastoral model different from the traditional, but also more attentive to issues that emerge in the coming years.
Groups of gay Christians in Italy have a dual prophetic vocation: to bring out the experience of faith of a minority (Homosexuals) who struggles to get out of the anonymity and obscurity and that of offer an example of groups that, despite the difficulties and the lack of attention by the clergy continue to carry on their experience with a “capacity for hope” that is and remains admirable.
Issues in the Forum
Several group presentations were made which allowed participants know each other. There were three workshops named “Homosexuals and the Word of God: from conflict to reconciliation”, “How is homophobia in our churches and within us?” and “The groups of gay Christians and communities of believers.
Present and Future”. Groups discussed the best strategy how to remember the victims of homophobia and transphobia that will take place throughout Italy days 10-17 May 2010 in a vigil of prayer.
The Forum already had a concrete consequence: with some donations, the sale of books and the free task of volunteers there was fundraising of two thousand euros.
Half of the money, as previously announced, will be used to be present with a stand of the gay christian at the National Pride of Naples where will be distributed brochures and materials produced for this opportunity to tell the experience of homosexual Christians, a place where we listen to and welcome friends, pastors and priests, parents, gays and lesbians who believe in progress.
The rest of the funds will serve to cover part of the cost of representing Italy at the European Forum.
Presentation of the European Forum
European Forum was presented Saturday morning with powerpoint by copresident Enric Vilà. European Forum’s participation has been possible thank to shared sponsorship from Gionata organizers and David & Jonathan (France).
An overview of the organization groups, mission/vision, strategic plan, objectives, achievements, programmes and projects was and the testimony of strenghenthed ecumenical faith during 28 years was shared for all participants. Three Italian groups belong to European Forum: Gionata, Gruppo del Guado and Gruppo Varco – REFO.
European Forum encouraged Italian groups to join European Forum in order to share, unite forces and spread Christian faith and testimonies throughout all lesbian and gay Italian people. European Forum also invited publicly and encouraged participation of italian groups at the next 28th edition that will take place from 23 to 27 June in Barcelona.
European Forum inspired the creation of three proposed working groups among Italian groups on three challenging issues: Women’s group (target to reflect on how to network lesbian believers); Group Theology and the Bible (target to develop and get contributions in both realities); Group Dialogue with the Christian communities (target to overcome ignorance on faith and homosexuality in parishes, diocese, church movements in all churches spread in Italy).
European Forum will promote remembrance and prayers for the victims of homophobia and transphobia.
All colours of the rainbow are called to glow: Lessons learned and Thanks
Enric learned LGBT Christian groups movement in Italy is a solid, long-way consolidated in some zones, spiritually rich, heterogeneous, vigorous, engaged and alive. Very much alive!. A combination of young and old members, variated lesbians and gays.
Groups in Italy diverse from north to south, from 30 years old Il Guado Milano group, 20 years old Nuova Proposta Rome group and recent creation of Sicilian promising group Ali d’Aquila, a three historic step examples of movement consolidation, with the permission of all of them.
Everywhere, lesbians are present but still sometimes “absent”, as was described in the report. That makes even more evident the need for encouraging hope in future for all Christians groups, encouraging all kinds of visibility in Italy and all Europe.
All colours of the rainbow are called to glow. There is a bright life beyond Italian church hierarchy and politically dark situation.
Many testimonies with tears and many smiles of both women and men were for me unique and unforgettable, a human call for spiritual growth. Many of the participants have shared our commitment with progress in our christian faith, in our journey from truth to freedom.
Enric sincerely thanks organizers for the kindness, warm and joyful time spent together and thanks to sponsors for the opportunity of strengthening ties both sides the Alps. Italia nel cuore! Viva Italia!
Italian translation: I cristiani omosessuali italiani visti dal Forum Europei dei cristiani GLBT