I have much to learn about the gay lifestyle. For example, I did not know "queer" is no longer an epithet.
It used to be. Now it's preferred by younger gays as simpler.
This is just one of the things I learned talking with Marian Edmonds, new director of the Ogden OUTreach center.
Marian takes over from Gary Horenkamp, who founded a drop-in program for teens at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden and developed it to be the awesome thing it is. Gary moved to Texas earlier this year when his partner got a job.
Now the program is its own independent charity and is expanding to serve the Top of Utah lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Marian brings an interesting take to that goal. She and her partner are co-pastors of the newly founded City of Hope Church in Salt Lake City (www.cohslc.org). Marian described it as "a professing Christian church where the primary outreach is the LGBT and allied."
Allied? "We have a lot of straight people who want to be in a place where gay people are welcome," she said.
It is sad many churches cannot make that claim. Too many use religion to exclude gays or tell them how to live. That whole Proposition 8 marriage thing in California is a prime example.
There are even alleged Christians who promote what Marian called "clobber passages" of the Bible. Those are the verses which seem to say it's OK to hate homosexuals or even kill them.
I say "alleged Christians" because I'm pretty sure hating gays is not something Christ would do. Hating people who can't change who they are makes no sense, does great harm and poisons the whole community. Marion hopes to raise awareness of those simple facts and expand OUTreach's reach.
"It's about the health and well-being of the LGBT public and not only about creating a place that's safe," she said. "We're talking a lot about health because there are so many risk factors with being gay."
One huge risk for gay teens is being homeless.
She hasn't looked up Ogden's numbers, but of more than 1,000 homeless teens in Salt Lake, 40 percent are LGBT. Many of those kids were turned out of their homes, or left, because the family religion made it impossible to stay.
"If parents accept them, kids do so much better," she said. 'It's proven that they're more likely to stay in school, not use drugs or alcohol or have behavior problems, and it's all dependant on how parents talk to their kids."
Marian wants to add youth leadership training, a book group for adults and a task force to try to get more acceptance of GLBT children by their parents.
"And I'm interested in providing things for seniors, because there's a surprising number of senior adults who are finally figuring out they're not strictly heterosexual."
I thought of the subject of my Nov. 17 column, a former Ogden man who struggled with being transgendered until he was in his 60s. That's a long time to live a fearful and troubled life.
So this is a good thing. I welcome Marian to Ogden and wish her luck. For more information about OUTreach, check the web site http://ogdenoutreach.org or call Marian at 801-686-4528.
Marian asked me include a plug for a fund raiser for OUTreach on Dec. 10. Weber State University is hosting Sister Dottie Dixon and her floor show at $25 a head ($10 for students). Check out our next Go! section, or call Caril Jennings at WSU for more information at 801-626-6431.