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Houston Voice, June 17, 2005
File 009
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Houston Voice, June 17, 2005 - File 009. 2005-06-17. University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 17, 2017. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1111/show/1090.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(2005-06-17). Houston Voice, June 17, 2005 - File 009. Montrose Voice. University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1111/show/1090

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Voice, June 17, 2005 - File 009, 2005-06-17, Montrose Voice, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 17, 2017, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/montrose/item/1111/show/1090.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Voice, June 17, 2005
Contributor
  • Crain, Chris
  • Fisher, Binnie
Publisher Window Media
Date June 17, 2005
Language English
Subject
  • LGBTQ community
  • LGBTQ people
  • Gay liberation movement
Place
  • Houston, Texas
Genre
  • newspapers
Type
  • Text
Identifier OCLC: 31485329
Rights In Copyright: This item is protected by copyright. Copyright to this resource is held by the creator or current rights holder, and the resource is provided here for educational purposes. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without permission of the copyright owner. Users assume full responsibility for any infringement of copyright or related rights.
Note This item was digitized from materials loaned by the Gulf Coast Archive and Museum (GCAM).
Item Description
Title File 009
Transcript ^^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^M P ^^ HOUSTON VOICE LOCcll LIT© ■ In the fight for equality, education is key Ruth Ann Eldridge and partner, Peggy Roush, found that one-on-one interaction wins straight allies for gays By DAWN RORIE It is hard to find a congregation that is more warm and affirming than the one at Bethel Evangelical Lutheran United Church of Christ (UCC). Unlike many other churches in which members only see each other briefly before and after weekly services, the congregation at Bethel is like one big family. Members at Bethel keep in touch throughout the week, having dinner with one another and going out of their way to care for sick or ailing members who need a helping hand. When Ruth Ann Ethridge and her partner. Peggy Roush, walked into Bethel Evangelical Lutheran UCC for the first time, they were immediately welcomed into the family. Even though Bethel was not yet officially "open and affirming" of sexual minorities (as United Church of Christ leaves this decision up to individual churches), the openly lesbian couple was accepted as one of the flock. When they returned for a second service, Etheridge said members of the congregation not only remembered them from their first visit, but also knew their names. "I had never gone to a church like that in my entire life," she says. In time, Ethridge became president of the church's Board of Christian Education, while Roush began serving as secretary. In 2004, Bethel decided to follow in the footsteps of other UCC churches when it began the yearlong process to officially become "open and affirming" of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons. The church scheduled a series of "open and affirming" sessions in order to educate members about the lives and struggles sexual minorities. Even for a congregation as warm and ft MORE INFO Bethel Evangelical Uttieran Church (UCC) 1107 Shepherd Dr. 713-861-6670 www.bethelhouston.org Pride Houston www.pridehouston.org Ruth Ann Eldridge and Peggy Roush were instrumental in helping educate members of Bethel Evangelical Church (UCC) at a time when the church was considering whether or not to become an open and affirming congregation. Photo by Dalton DeHart. loving as the one at Bethel, the process was a controversial one that encountered some opposition. While many members were open to attending the educational sessions, some balked at the prospect of being exposed to gay issues. "Some people said that we had taken over the church. I politely told them that we had not," says Roush. The couple responded by inviting hesitant members to their home for dinner. "We didn't talk about the open and affirming sessions," Ethridge remembers. "We just chatted and let them see that we are normal people just like everybody else." One woman in particular would not even take the informational flyers about the sessions, let alone attend one. Ethridge decided to approach her and have a private, one-on-one conversation about the subject. While the woman made it clear that although she did not approve of homosexuals in general, she had no problem with Ethridge and Roush. Ethridge tried to explain to her that she and her partner were just like everybody else in the gay community "How can you know if you approve or disapprove unless you educate yourself?" Ethridge asked her After their conversation. the woman attended every session, finally voting in favor of the church becoming open and affirming. The final vote was 50 to 10, with the majority in favor of officially opening their church to gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals. Ethridge says she believes in the power of one-on-one interaction and reaching out beyond, as well as within, the gay community to find allies. Over the years, she and Roush have been involved in various gay rights organizations, including Lesbians Over the Age of Fifty (LOAF) and the Lesbian Health Initiative, where Ethridge served as a board member. During her time working with such groups, Ethridge noticed a lack of coordination among many of the organizations—they were all working on individual projects while hoping to achieve the same goal of equality. In addition to the fragmentation she has noticed in the struggle for equality, Ethridge points out that the separation of gays and straights is another factor that can only hamper the fight. "We have divided everything into the gay community and the straight community. It just needs to be our community," she says. Because of her views on these issues, Ethridge is enthusiastic about her new position as Outreach Chair for Pride Houston. She is currently in the early stages of planning a conference for 2006 that will bring together and educate gays and lesbians, as well as their straight allies. In addition to educating the public about gay civil rights issues, the conference will feature presentations that teach smaller organizations skills such as how to fundraise and how to put together a board of directors. Ethridge and Roush point to their church as an example of how interaction and education can bring gay and straight people together for a common cause. They say they both feel that being honest about who they are, as well as being willing to reach out to others has made a difference in the way many members of the Bethel congregation see gays and lesbians. Ethridge says that one lady told them, "Well, if they're all like you, let 'em all come!" With a marriage amendment pending and anti-gay sentiment rising in many areas around the country, Ethridge says that the time for the barriers to come down is now, "If we are going to get anywhere in the future, we're going to have to do it together."
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