"Are gay men getting the same benefit out of religion that the general population is?" asks Dr. Brenda Cole, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
The answer so far, in preliminary findings from Cole's research into the connection between faith and physical health, is no, especially compared to the general population, for which other studies have shown a correlation between faith and lower levels of depression and alcohol and nicotine abuse.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) people, Cole says, "are not being served very well in terms of their spiritual needs. That makes a lot of sense, given the number of religious organizations that have not only hurtful messages but hurtful actions against GLBT people."
Cole and others in the Spirituality Working Group, part of a collective effort by gay activists called Voices for a New Tomorrow, will hold a GLBT spirituality fair on Sun., Oct. 16, called Spiritual Day Out. It will include a wide variety of worship services -- from Christian, Jewish and Buddhist to Wiccan, mandala and movement -- as well as a keynote address by Chris Glaser, nationally known gay spirituality activist and author.
"For a long time those of us in the GLBT community have been inattentive to our spiritual nature," says Glaser, author of Coming Out as Sacrament. "Spirituality is about openness, even vulnerability. That's where we find the holy." Spirituality, he adds, "helps people get out things they had to hide in their own life."
"We need to find a way to help gay people ... feel affirmed in their spiritual journeys," concludes Cole. "Hopefully, if anyone's looking to connect with a spiritual community, they'll have some place to go" after experiencing the fair.
Sun., Oct. 16, 2-6 p.m., Rodef Shalom Temple, 4905 Fifth Ave., 412-915-3973. Free.