When Father Gary Meier made the decision to go public with the fact that he is gay and the author of a book titled Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest, he says he didn't realize the announcement would go viral. Since claiming authorship of the book, previous attributed to "anonymous," The Advocate, Huffington Post, Think Progress and many other national outlets shared his story.
"It's amazing to me how much interest this has gotten," he says.
Last night, Meier made a new announcement on his Facebook page: The launch of a website called Rising Voices, an online forum for Catholics and other people of faith to express support for their LGBT peers.
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"We want every person to know they are loved," the site reads. "Especially those who are made to feel less than by their church or church leaders, by their family or friends or by their community or community leaders."
Here's the video intro Meier put together on YouTube:
Rising Voices asks readers to submit comments and videos in support of LGBT people of faith. Meier says with little promotion he's already received over 75 submissions and e-mails -- one from a fifteen-year-old lesbian girl who wrote she's struggling with the anti-gay messages she hears from her church's pulpit.
"I just really think that people want to be affirming and loving and don't have a vehicle to do that," says Meier. "Rising Voices can be a place for people to do that."
Here are just a few submissions from the site:
This is exactly what the church needs to do - affirm all of God's children! You are loved!
I am straight, Catholic, and a single mother of three boys. I love my lgbt brothers and sisters, and I am raising my sons to be champions for your rights. God loves you and so do we!!
Catholic and love Rising Voices. I was born and raised catholic and have left the church some time ago because of the hypocracy. While I occasionally go back, It's good to know that when I do, there are others who believe as I do - the church needs to welcome and love all people unconditionally.
While still in its fledgling stage, Meier is optimistic about the impact the site will have. His future with the church is still uncertain, but he says LGBT advocacy will certainly be a part of his work going forward.
"My hope is that the 30 percent of teenage suicides, those kids most affected and hurt by anti-homosexual themes will see [the site] and see that they're not alone," says Meier. "There are people supporting them and loving them."