Who Makes #PresentPerfect?
Unitarian Universalist Rev. Joanna Fontaine Crawford was moved after a gay boy died by suicide near her seminary in Houston, Texas. She knew, as GLAAD reports, that 75% of religious messages in mainstream news are from anti-LGBTQ sources. Parents who identify as “strongly religious” are much more likely to reject their LGBTQ children. In fact, 26% of LGBTQ teens are kicked out of their homes when they come out, at an average age of 14 years old. LGBTQ teens who are rejected by their families are 8.4x more likely to attempt suicide.
Rev. Crawford created Bring Your Gay Teen to Church Day as her inspired response.
That first year, 24 Houston-area congregations broadcast their welcome.
The event is now organized by MyOutSpirit.com, and was renamed #PresentPerfect in 2016 to use language that includes all LGBTQ people and all types of faith communities.
MyOutSpirit.com is the only interfaith social network connecting LGBTQ people of every tradition with spiritual resources that affirm who they are and whom they love.
Before launching MyOutSpirit.com, Clayton Gibson already had a long history of LGBTQ activism, primarily in communities of faith, including work with Soulforce, the American Friends Service Committee, and Triangle Foundation (Equality Michigan). He co-created the original statewide Faith Action Network and the first national conference for interfaith LGBTQ activists, “Together in Faith.” His book, Shirt of Flame, proposed a new LGBTQ activism based on “voluntary redemptive service,” and was endorsed by Arun Gandhi, Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge (Whosoever.org), author Toby Johnson, and other leaders.
In 2004, Clayton attended the “Gay Spirit Culture Summit.” Hosted by Garrison Institute, the Summit was an international gathering of gay, male-identified spiritual teachers including Kwabena Rainey Cheeks, Daniel Helminiak,Christian de la Huerta, Duncan Teague, Craig Smith, and Don Kilhefner, among over 120 others. Their shared struggle to get the word out about their good work inspired Clayton to create MyOutSpirit.com, a social networking website that could make it easy for LGBTQ people to find the faith communities, counselors, healers, teachers, authors and others working for LGBTQ well-being.
Besides producing #PresentPerfect, Clayton is developing a pilot program with dozens of LGBTQ organizations in Central Texas to cultivate LGBTQ people’s holistic wellbeing: mental; physical; spiritual; social; and financial. This organization, QWELL Community Foundation, is raising money for an “Austin Outpost” LGBTQIA+ Community Center, among other projects to improve wellbeing.