LGBTQ+ people share their experience of faith and acceptance

The fight for equal rights for members of the LGBTQ+ community has been going on for decades, and that means finding an accepting church.

SAN DIEGO — The LGBTQ+ community has faced a decades-long struggle for equal rights, and part of that struggle has been to find churches that welcome and accept who they are.

Some community members have rejected their faith due to the difficult history with religious organizations. Now, progress is being seen with some churches as they begin to open their doors to the LGBTQ+ community.

Martin Nace Hall has been a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Hillcrest for years, his Christian faith has always been important to him because it’s what got him through tough times. Martin’s Christian religion actually began in a Pentecostal church in Missouri.

“I grew up in this church for 20 years and loved every minute of it,” Hall said.

However, at the age of 20 things started to change, when Martin told his church pastor that he was gay. He found that instead of being accepted, the minister fired him for it.

“No, you’re not welcome,” Hall, who struggled to say the words out loud, told CBS 8.

LGBTQ+ people and the Catholic Church

The practice of excluding LGBTQ+ people from religious spaces has a long, complex history.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, at least 29% of the LGBTQ+ population reported that they felt unwanted in a place of worship.

“You know, it’s too often the case when you say, ‘Love the sinner, hate the sin.’ And it was a challenge, but it didn’t make me question God or Jesus, it just made me wonder why I was in this kind of environment,” Hall said.

However, now that the Pride movement is gaining strength, the fight for inclusivity is changing the way churches welcome their members. Some churches have gradually accepted LGBTQ+ people.

In San Diego, a percentage of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church worshipers are LGBTQ+, with the church even participating in Pride Week with Light up the Cathedral. This event will take place on Friday, July 15 at 7 p.m.

“The Episcopal Church is a denomination of the Christian religion, its descendant from the Church of England. And he’s been on a journey really over the last 100 years of opening doors and breaking down barriers and becoming more and more inclusive,” said The Very Reverend Penny Bridges, of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Cardinal-designate Robert W. McElroy

In the Catholic community, a bishop from San Diego has also expressed support for LGBTQ+ worshipers.

Cardinal-designate Robert W. McElroy supported the gay community and said the community is a family.

“I had a statement about that just recently, about the need to be more welcoming because they are part of our family and the fabric of who we are. So we have to look out for them like we do for everyone else in church life,” McElroy said.

Although the Catholic Church does not condone same-sex marriage, McElroy also adds that Pope Francis welcomes the LGBTQ+ community as well.

“And this is where the pope is pointing the finger. We have tried, in our different parishes, to be very welcoming,” McElroy said.

With some places of worship becoming progressive, LGBTQ+ members like Martin have become hopeful for the younger generation, but still recognize that there are religions that don’t accept it.

Advise young people that “they follow their hearts. And listen to the still, small voice of God, because God loves us.

WATCH RELATED: LGBTQ Caucus wants to remove same-sex marriage ban from California constitution.

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