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Gay and Lesbian Humanist Network

by Harley Brown

The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 14, Number 1.

As the founder of the Philadephia Gay and Lesbian Secular Humanists, I have been asked why I chose to start a gay and lesbian secular humanist group, when unlike the homophobia in the religious groups, humanists were open and accepting of the range of human sexuality. The answer includes many different reasons. From the point of view of one who would like to extend humanism to new people, especially those who are suffering in religion, it would seem that speaking as one gay person to another is more effective than the alternative. There is no paternalism, no outsider prejudice, just common experience and empathy.

If one of the main reasons to join a group is to create community, then attracting gays and lesbians to a gay humanist group should be easier, since they already share so many perceptions to start with. Furthermore, because of the rejection by mainstream society for so long, we have developed our own communities with our own economic services and customs. We feel comfortable in them. It is clear from the reactions of people at our meetings that they really enjoy being able to open up and share their experiences and know that they are not being judged by straight prejudices. I've discovered that the gay men's chorus that I sing in is more fun that straight ones. We meet other gays with similar interest and friendships blossom. We hug and kiss and don't think twice about it. I think this is what we are looking for in a gay humanist group and feel is missing in straight groups.

Strictly from the point of view of getting the word out, gays and lesbians have a great advantage. Since our communities are small and focused, reaching the gay audience is easy. I started by advertising in the Philadelphia Gay News. They never batted an eye when I used the word atheist in my ad. When I did that a year earlier in the mainstream press they either refused to put an ad in or asked me to tone the wording down. The Philadelphia Gay News reaches just about all gays and lesbians in the Philadelphia region at some point in the year. What mainstream publication can claim that? Once we had gotten started as a group, we could put up flyers in gay hangouts, and leaflet and put up tables at the various gay pride parades and street fairs. We meet in a gay community center and are listed on their bulletins. We are posted on the gay paper's community events section.

Considering that we are a minority of a minority, I think we have grown rapidly, from four in March to thirty seven in October. What is even more telling is that, with the exception of myself, none of the others were at the time they contacted us going to meetings of any other humanist group. Clearly we are filling a need. Our next challenge is to create a program with enough interest to maintain the membership of those who have contacted us.

I have three objectives in writing this article. First to let everyone know of our presence and rationale for being. Second to reach any potential members in the Philadelphia region who might join us (see address etc. below). Third to encourage the formation of gay and lesbian groups in other areas of the country. To my knowledge there are only similar groups in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.. We can surely make a bigger impact on the national gay media and on gay issues in general if we have numbers behind us. If anyone has questions about starting a local group, or would like to keep in touch with us in Philadelphia, please use the following contact information:

[POST] Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Secular Humanists
[====] POB 2141
[====] Philadelphia, PA 19103

[PHONE] (215) 602-2245

[EMAIL] pglsh@hotmail.com
[====] http://members.aol.com/pglsh

Harley Brown is the founder of the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian Secular Humanists.

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This page was last updated 12/04/2003

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