The golden rule of Christianity is ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’.
Even though Jesus said absolutely nothing about gay people (seriously), and was far more interested in people being good to one another, a lot of people forget that.
Some religious people still continue to use the Bible as a way of propagating their hate, their unease, their ignorance.
But there are some who have realised that you can be both religious and support LGBTI rights.
1. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton has said anti-gay Christians who use the Bible to spout idiotic views are the real ‘sinners’.
When she was asked this year how she appeals to both Christians and LGBTI people, she said she doesn’t judge anyone.
‘As far as the Christians, if people want to pass judgment, they’re already sinning,’ she said.
‘The sin of judging is just as bad as any other sin they might say somebody else is committing. I try to love everybody.’
2. Barack Obama
Who knows if the multitude of wins in 2014, the flood of US states that succeeded in legalizing same-sex marriage, would have happened without the spark that began with Barack Obama?
For in May 2012, the Christian president became the first sitting Commander in Chief to publicly support same-sex marriage. He said he had ‘evolved’ on the issue, in thanks to his children Malia and Sasha.
With DOMA, Prop 8 and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell struck down since that moment, what will happen in the future?
3. Vicky Beeching
British Christian singer Vicky Beeching, a darling of the American Bible Belt, risked everything by coming out in August.
She said she wanted to become an advocate for gay rights within the church.
And in one of her first missions, she made headlines by coming to blows with US pastor Scott Lively, currently on trial for crimes against humanity for his alleged anti-gay actions in Uganda.
When he asked her whether she cared what ‘God thinks’, she said: ‘I do and that actually why I am taking this step today so young people don’t have to listen to the kind of teaching you peddle, because it damages people.’
4. John Pavlovitz
This Christian pastor hit the headlines in 2014 when he revealed what he would say to his children if any of them were gay – he would love them just the way they are.
‘I won’t pray for them to be made ‘normal’. I’ve lived long enough to know that if my children are gay, that is their normal,’ he said in a viral blog post.
‘I won’t pray that God will heal or change or fix them. I will pray for God to protect them; from the ignorance and hatred and violence that the world will throw at them, simply because of who they are.’
5. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson says she owes a lot to her faith in God, overcoming family tragedies and awful moments to become stronger.
But she also owes a lot to LGBTI people, with her saying that she wouldn’t have had a career if it wasn’t for learning her performance skills in gay clubs.
‘I’d have these amazing drag queens style me up and down, honey,’ she told Pride Source.
‘They would be up there lip-synching and then I’d get up and sing for real – some Whitney Houston or some old-school Shirley Murdock – and I would make all the money. That was like my training, basically.’
She later performed marriage equality anthem Same Love at the VMAs in 2013.
6. Frank Schaefer
Frank Schaefer was a Methodist pastor who worked for over a decade until the day he was defrocked for officiating his gay son’s wedding.
While he was eventually allowed to return to work, he said he didn’t care because he knew he did the right thing. His love for his son and God’s command to love everyone trumped over supposed church doctrine.
‘I love him so much and didn’t want to deny him that joy,’ he said
7. Kristin Chenoweth
Singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth, who made her name in musicals like Wicked and shows like The West Wing and Pushing Daisies, is as Christian as they come.
Raised by Southern Baptists, she was asked in a Gay Star News interview what she thinks of Christians who use the Bible as a tool for their homophobia.
‘I think it is very anti-Christian of them. It is the antithesis of what I believe. It is the antithesis of what you should believe if you believe in Jesus. It’s not what he taught, it’s the opposite of what he taught,’ she said.
‘If Jesus was to walk the Earth today, or Buddha or anybody, they would be horrified. Those people saying they’re doing it in the name of God? No no no no no.
‘I have had a lot of flack from my community, from the Southern Baptists. It’s important to say it, as a Christian person. It’s important for me to do it.’
8. Pope Francis
When you talk about Pope Francis’ history with gay rights, it seems important to mention his predecessor (still alive, but retired) – Pope Benedict XVI. He considered homosexuality to be a ‘defection of human nature’ and a threat to ‘justice and peace’.
That is why when the current leader of the Catholic Church says ‘Who am I to judge gay people?’, it changes lives.
Admittedly yes, it’s unlikely he will be marching in a Pride parade or blessing a same-sex marriage anytime soon, but we’ve made progess. We’re no longer living in a world where Catholic leaders seem so…aggressively hostile, and that can only be be attributed to one man.
9. Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell is, and we hope she doesn’t mind us saying this, kind of a badass.
She and a group of US nuns were reprimanded by the Vatican after they went on a nine-state bus tour in 2012 to speak out on LGBTI rights and the much needed modernization of the Catholic Church.
‘The Catholic hierarchy has done very poorly at engaging the issues of sexuality, period—their own, or anybody else’s,’ she said in an interview with Believe Out Loud.
‘I have said that what we need is a real spiritual renewal among our leadership because for me, following the gospel means be not afraid—welcome everyone, hug them, welcome them close, and live and love.’
10. Ty Herndon
Christian country singer Ty Herndon took the biggest risk of his career when he came out as gay in November this year.
Dreaming about being a country singer since he was six, he was at first a gospel singer before he picked up the guitar.
A few years later, a number one single in What Mattered Most, and two marriages to women, he realised he could finally be open about who he is.
‘It’s my life, it’s what I do, it’s who I am, and I went to great lengths to cover up that fact to be a country star,’ he said.
‘But I get to be free today.’