One of the great things about Netroots Nation is actually being able to meet and network with an amazing variety of bloggers, activists, social media gurus, politicos, journalists and elected officials. Those networking opportunities are priceless and the knowledge, experience and personal stories shared between social justice seekers is invaluable.
At the Southern Caucus meeting today, I had a brilliant opportunity to sit down with bloggers and activists from across the South. North Carolina was well-represented: Charlotte (yes, yours truly plus a newcomer from Dallas), Chapel Hill and High Point. Tennessee was well-represented, too.
At the caucus, I had the chance to meet and chat with Joe Rhymer, the Tri-Cities Organizer for the Tennessee Equality Project. During the course of conversation the topic of religion came up. I, like others (and still others), believe that religion-based prejudice and bigotry are the root cause of nearly all the oppression based on sexuality and gender.
Joe shared with the group his experience organizing with faith communities in and around Bristol. Several faith groups there including two United Methodist churches, he said, had stepped up and taken leadership roles in raising awareness on issues of LGBT equality. It’s a great victory for the LGBT community when faith communities get involved in our work. Congrats to Joe and Tennessee Equality Project.
The effect of religion-based prejudice and discrimination is, perhaps, felt most acutely in the South. We’re at the forefront of dialogue and conversation that will inevitably lead to new revolutions in understandings of faith and equality, as it has for other groups victimized by religious oppression. If the LGBT community wants to move forward, we have to deal with religion. We ignore it at our own peril.