Is there something wrong with an atheist booth at a gay pride event?

In my local atheist group we have discussed setting up a booth at the local gay pride day event to get some new members- the logic behind it being that these people were directly harmed by religion... it seemed to make sense to me. But I sent out a newsletter saying "okay this is what we're working on right now and we need donations desperately" one of those things was the booth (among a couple other things including a billboard and protesting our local city council who have decided to pray before meetings now) and I got a huge huge backlash of people telling me that we shouldn't get involved with gay people.. it was too controversial.. that i was trying to force my beliefs on them- that i just had an agenda because i am bisexual.. we even had about half a dozen people leave. So what are your thoughts on leaving out lgbt issues and the like from an atheist group? Some people even said if we did a gay pride booth then we should do a pro life booth.. again, what are your thoughts on this? I could really use some advice.. It just seems like specifically not doing this booth is saying "oh no, we can't get involved with *those* people". I should also add that about half of the people who spoke up about it were for the booth and half were against it (it was about 45% for and 55% against).

I try very hard to have activities for everyone and I know that not everyone will want to attend every meeting- some want a social group, some want an activist group.. we have things like this booth, the billboard, the city council thing, as well as plans for a helping the homeless program, adopt a highway, etc and we also have bowling nights, movie nights, dinner nights, and backyard BBQ's for people who just want to have some social time with non religious people.

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Is it wrong? No. Will it work? Maybe not, depending on the support you have and who's willing to work for it. So far, all the arguments from the opposition that you posted sounds flimsy. They sound like they don't want to do it either because they don't have a spine or because they're simply homophobic. If they want to put you down for having an "agenda" they should come back to the real world. Everyone has an agenda, religious people more than others.
Hi Heather,

As a bisexual and a retired musician, I have spent quite a bit of my life involved in various Queer communities, as well as among many other communities. From actively performing at Stone Wall events and from volunteering for Pride event kiosks that share HIV testing/safe sex resources and transgender awareness, I can definitely say that people do often frequent these kiosks in hopes of finding access to a community, to resources and also to sometimes simply meet some like mined people.

At Pride Parades and Queer events, I often have stumbled upon kiosks peopled by the more liberal minded Anglican folkies and other kiosks with a mishmash of Pagans, Wiccans, Satanists and other offshoots of spiritual-esque groups. Had I stumbled upon a secularist kiosk at any one of these events, I would have felt an even greater sense of being part of a diverse community and such.

When it comes to issues around pro-life and pro-choice... I think that if we concentrate our efforts on having a kiosk that shares community resources for Queers who are secularist or who are thinking of letting go of their "faith", well that can only translate to being a good thang. As for the politics of these kiosks, the secular community is so diverse in and of itself that people will find their way to like-minded secular communities. Mind you, I am pro-choice, yet I do passionately support freedoms of expression and freedoms of speech. People can decide on their own what they will place their hearts behind.

best wishes and full steam ahead with kiosks at Pride events!!!
- demetri b.
What? Doing a booth to do BGILTQ outreach is the same as doing an anti-choice booth? I fail to follow the reasoning. What other sorts of outreach does your group do? Maybe changing the phrasing might help: Doing an outreach booth at gay pride, rather than doing a gay pride booth.

Amazingly, and as you know... some of us fit into queer acronym soup, and are atheists. I'd have been tickled if an atheist group had reached out to me years ago. There are lots of religious people doing outreach, why not us? It's not like we'd be proselytizing.

I"m wondering if there's some homophobia involved for people to feel strongly enough to leave the group. I find turning questions around on people to be helpful... they obviously must have left because they have an agenda because they are heterosexual. Why is it that they think, all of a sudden, you have an agenda?

Addendum: You might also ask this in the Gay Atheists group, as well as Bisexual Atheists.
Yes, I did bring up to them that there would be several church booths so why not an atheist one? Since several of my members are anti theists I thought they'd be supportive but they were the ones who were the most against it. There will also be a bank of america booth, a pampered chef booth, etc.. which shows that having a booth there doesn't align yourself with the movement- it just shows that you think they're human beings.

This will be our first outreach although we're also working on some helping the homeless projects and looking into getting a booth at the state fair. We're incredibly new- only a little over a year old and we're only just now expanding beyond pot lucks and movie nights and since this booth was local and easy it seemed to make sense.
sounds perfectly reasonable to me - try this slogan:
'CHRISTIANITY SAYS YOU'RE AN ABOMINATION - MORE PROOF THAT IT'S A LOAD OF NONSENSE'
"there would be several church booths..."

I say go for it. 45% in favor is actually not a small number and to those who oppose it I would argue that those church booths are more harmful to their goals than a "free thinkers" booth. For many people the problem is awareness and fear of losing their community. If people are shown that there is a community outside of that loathsome group which is restricting their rights they should heartily embrace it.
we don't have the funds to do it which is why the whole discussion was ridiculous to begin with! they knew this and still filled my inbox with over 60 messages in this debate!
Personally I think it's a great idea. I don't think you can leave lgbt issues out of an atheist group. It would be nice if you could, because it would mean that it wasn't an area of contention with the major religions. But it is an area of contention. Lgbt are condemned by the major religions so it is good to show solidarity, no matter what their religious affiliations.
Not that it should matter, but I'm conventionally heterosexual and this is my view. I guess if you're bisexual, you might get accused of attempting to push a separate agenda, though I think the argument for being represented there should stand regardless.
Atheists have mostly been very supportive of gay rights b/c almost all discrimination against gays is from religion. I would think that the main protest would have come b/c a lot of gay people still have some attachment to religion, either "picking and choosing" religious rules or finding religions that don't discriminate. Still it seems like a good idea to have a booth from atheists b/c it says something positive...it doesn't even have to be all about converting to atheism but to show that atheists have been supportive of gay rights and that religion has been the main opposition.
Heather,

Your discussion caught my eye, and I read what you had to say, and the other responses. My own experience is as a veteran gay man who in many ways has been through the wringer in modern American homophobia, and I'm both jaded and still somewhat idealistic, of both can fit in the same tortured brain.

My first thought was, don't you live in N Carolina? Not quite the Southern Taliban, but not exactly Southeast Hollywood, either. I thought it would take some guts to set up a booth, identifying your group with LGBTQ people.

So I googled on your town, and came up with this: "Greensboro is North Carolina's Gay San Francisco". Well, everything is relative. Maybe someone says Vladivostok is the "Miami of Siberia" - I mean, it is the major city on the coast, the furthest Southeast, on the Golden Horn Bay. It's also still in Siberia. And you still can't get a good tan there. And Greensboro is still in N. Carolina. Well, there's also Asheville, but I ramble.

So what I'm left with for context, is, yours is an Atheist group in a moderate sized, somewhat progressive city in the Bible Belt southeast. Or one where some people like to think of it as progressive. Not the buckle of the belt, but definitely part of it. I suspect that members of your group don't want to be identified with LGBT people, which would result in being more outcast and throwing more suspicion on them, in their not-really so progressive families and workplaces.

Meanwhile, I don't know what the LGBT groups think of having an Atheist group at their pride event. I do know that there are lots of "liberal" religious groups at big-city pride events, walking in the parades and being all "we are the world" and "inclusive" and "god loves all his children". I THINK (don't remember for sure) that I've seen Atheists represented but only in a very tiny way. Since the LGBTQ groups are especially wanting inclusion in the larger society, it's possible many of them will not welcome an Atheist-identified group, which would be further reason for exclusion. Let in the Atheists and next you'll be wanting to let in some Democrats.

My own thought is, do whatever you are comfortable with. Acknowledge the concerns that people have. If they are willing to let your group name be associated with the pride event, then go for it. If not, then it depends on how important the group is for you. Schisms are ugly and often leave everyone in worse shape than they started, and youn have spoken up for what you beleive. Next year is another chance to try.

After a couple of dozen pride events, I've grown weary of them. Probably the only way I would attend one, without just being supportive of my partner who likes to go and gawk at how strange and silly Americans behave (he's Chinese), is if I could be at an atheist booth.
The relative stigma attached to homosexuality versus irreligiousity varies I suppose but it may be that in that region people are more afraid of coming out as atheists than coming out as homosexual. That is no reason not to represent anyway. :)
It would definitely work, however, I'm not so sure what message it would send to the idio... I mean theists.

They'd all be going "I knew it. Those Atheists are all a bunch of God-hating f***ots!!!!" (Their words, not mine - I would never even dare to say that horrible word...)

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