Abstract: The story goes that in the 1970s and 1980s, when people came to the “Agape Ecumenical Centre” – an international academy of the Waldensian church in Italy of which I was the director in the 1990s, hosting, among other conferences, also meetings of LGBT Christians.
They arrived dressed in suit and tie, as in a masquerade of respectability, and then changed and reappeared in the bright and joyful colors of their gay lives for the week of meeting.
This change of clothes, which was repeated at the end of the week, clearly expresses the need for concealment in Italy at that time, especially for gays.
But getting used to freedom makes freedom grow, and these weeks of freedom began to affect the ways of life of gays and lesbians outside of the Agape Centre. Is not the church’s vocation to be the place of freedom? The site of a banquet so well prepared that crumbs of freedom could fall even for those who are hiding under the tables for fear of being persecuted?
To tell about oneself is one of the many ways towards a world of greater authenticity and truth. But if the interstices and gaps are widening, the whole building is in danger of cracking. And in fact, this is what we really want: that this building of hetero-normativity should crack, in churches too, because it is a building which conceals and delegitimizes every other experience of the self and the world.
Letizia Tomassone is a minister of the Waldensian Church in Italy (the Italian Presbyterian Church). Born in 1957, she filled the role of vice-president of the Italian Federation of Protestant Churches (2006-2012), and is charged for the course of Women and Gender Studies at the “Facoltà Valdese di Teologia” in Rome. She participates in the women’s theological association in Europe and in Italy. She was Director of Agape ecumenical center, where she developed her theology with gay and lesbian people, in a feminist and progressive framework.
Her interest is particularly centered on interfaith and ecumenical dialogue, and on the environmental issues. She is the President of the Inter-churches Commission on “Faith and Homosexuality”, and is for long time involved in the lgbt movement for civil rights and for a larger dignity of lgbt people in churches as God’s creatures.
See a chapter in the collective book edited by Paolo Rigliano, Gesù e le persone omosessuali, La Meridiana ed. 2014.