Church celebrates 1.2 million signed up for ‘Same Love’ online

Written by Ciaran Magee, CNN More than 1.2 million LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Catholics signed up for the Catholic church’s #SameLove (#Us) initiative this Lent; users were encouraged to post a…

Church celebrates 1.2 million signed up for 'Same Love' online

Written by Ciaran Magee, CNN

More than 1.2 million LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Catholics signed up for the Catholic church’s #SameLove (#Us) initiative this Lent; users were encouraged to post a picture of themselves holding a rainbow flag emblazoned with their diocese’s name.

More than 250 dioceses responded to the invitation, with about 40 of them choosing to take part in an unprecedented photo opportunity.

Amazing images of Catholic dioceses hosting open communities and discussions on LGBTQ issues won’t come as a shock to anyone who attended or organized the massive “Open Up Your Heart” conference in Rome in February, where openly gay clergy members filled the conference space.

Sunday Mass

The National LGBTQ Catholic Network (NGLN) is one such organization that appears to have benefited from the positive initiatives. President of the NGLN, Andrew Cohn, “looked at the issues affecting LGBT Catholics with a new way of seeing” and, subsequently, “started, actually, a new network,” he tells CNN.

Under the banner of Christ for All, NGLN encourages Catholics — especially those who may have been previously marginalized — to contribute their stories about being LGBT within the Catholic church. “They wanted to share these stories, and share their relationship with God, and with Catholicism.”

The idea is to counter homophobic attitudes and the harmful teaching on homosexuality contained in the Catholic church’s Catechism of the Catholic Church

On Valentine’s Day, the NGLN helped organize the hashtag “It’s not a sin” when Pope Francis preached a transphobic message.

NGLN then worked with several vocations missions and “spread throughout the country about celebrating same-sex weddings,” Cohn explains.

When the interfaith marriage between two men in Boulder, Colorado’s Our Lady of Peace Cathedral took place in April, Cohn thanked the Diocese of New York, for their support. And the bar’s owner has organized a “thank you” party for LGBT congregants.

Open celebration

While it’s not always quite so fluid, the Catholic church in North America is more welcoming to LGBT people than it used to be, says Reed Vignon, who is originally from the US state of Oregon and now resides in Hong Kong.

Vignon, who is known as a gay activist, describes himself as “fully accepted” into the Catholic church, describing the current atmosphere as “more of a celebration than a rebellion.”

Another LGBT Catholic is Franco Cavazza, who is based in California and who works with a charity called “Open Up Your Heart,” which educates churches and community groups about LGBT people and their relationships.

Cavazza says LGBTQ Catholics now openly attend Mass (he attends with a partner every Sunday), and he regularly hosts socials and gets to know new gay friends “regularly.”

He also believes the “movement has really reached new heights of acceptance.”

But even in global cities like Paris, Cavazza doesn’t feel quite at home. “We use the name gay, but on the street, to be very precise, I wouldn’t use that name…I’d say homosexual,” he says.

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