To the Editor
Yet another anti-gay "ministry" has popped up about a block west of Halsted Street, where pylons and plaques celebrate LGBTQ community members. Purveying hate under the rubric "love the sinner, hate the sin," the (Southern Baptist) Chicagoland Community Church is plying vulnerable street kids with free food, clothing and the experience of community to replace the rejection many of them have felt from their birth families. Called "Safe Haven" by the church, its members accept these youth only until a kid asks if it's okay he's gay or if she's accepted by God as a lesbian. The response is, "Nope, sorry, homosexuality is a sin, but we can help..."
Regrettably, our celebrated LGBTQ-affirming neighborhoodincluding the Center on Halstedhas a checkered relationship to these same street kids, many of whom are youth of color. The fact that some of these young people turn to anti-gay organizations like Chicagoland Community Church for succor and aid stands as an indictment to the respectable and usually well-heeled elements in our neighborhood who denounce as dangerous and unwelcome "kids on the streets" in thinly veiled expressions of hysterical fear and racist intolerance.
On the other hand, there are several faith-based organizations in our community that have stepped up to the plate and deserve our praise. The Night Ministry has worked for decades to provide welcoming and affirming services to all youth, including LGBTQ youth, and is partnering with Lakeview Lutheran Church to house "The Crib," an overnight emergency shelter.
Broadway United Methodist Church offers a weekly drop-in program for street-based youth and are currently providing some space to the Broadway Youth Center as they transition to a new location. Lakeview Presbyterian also operates a weekly drop-in for youth in Lakeview. These institutions are doing the kind of outreach that reflects what is best in our community, and they deserve our thanks and support.
LGBTQ young people are entitled to welcoming and affirming places to meet in Boystown. As we give this season to the organizations mentioned above, we should not forget that several anti-gay religious outfits in the heart of Boystown will endeavor to shepherd our youth (and adults too) and undermine their confidence and pride in being LGBT.
Let's remember that the next time we hear people condemn our street kids.
Gay Liberation Network