On November 4th Healing the Hurt Conference will take place at Jeron X Grayson Community Center. It is in its third year and QueerPGH wanted to learn more. We chatted with the creator and convener of the conference, Rev. Shanea Leonard of Judah Fellowship, a local, queer-friendly Christian church.
QueerPGH: What is the Healing the Hurt conference?
Rev. Shanea Leonard: Healing the Hurt is a bi-annual conference that addresses the hurt, harm, and disconnect between faith and the LGBTQIA community. However, this year we have expanded the focus to include homophobia, transphobia, sexism, racism, sexuality, and other bigotry that have roots in oppressive theology.
QueerPGH: Who is this conference for specifically and why?
Leonard: This conference is for anyone who wants to engage in thoughtful conversations about truth and foundations of oppression. It is also for those who want to come together in community to look at pathways to liberation. It is for those who are queer, straight, Catholic, atheist, Black, Asian, gay, trans, Baptist, Jewish, White, Latino, young, old and everyone in between. It is for all people.
QueerPGH: What can attendees expect?
Leonard: They can expect engaging workshops from national presenters who are experts in their fields. They can expect to engage in learning and critical thinking with many different kinds of people. They can expect to gain tools for healing hurts. And they can expect for truth to be uplifted and hated to be condemned.
QueerPGH: Are there any speakers at this years Healing the hurt conference that you would like to particularly highlight?
Leonard: Ahmad Greene-Hayes of Princeton University is an expert in his field on issues concerning sexuality. He will be discussing how we can change the idea of sex being demonized and dirty and see it as the gift that it is. Rodney McKenzie, the only returning presenter from our last Healing the Hurt, is a leader at Demos, which is a nationally known public policy organization that does the work of advocating for the LGBTQIA community. Naomi Washington-Leapheart is an out, queer justice worker who is the Faith Organizer for the National LGBTQ Task Force. She is on the front lines of justice work across the country for marginalized populations.
QueerPGH: How did you get involved with Healing the Hurt?
Leonard: Healing the Hurt was an idea that came to me after having conversations with many people in the community that felt a like faith was not for them because of the trauma they had experienced. I wanted to create a forum outside of the church, where people could feel safe to discuss the hurt, harm, and disconnect of church trauma and look at ways to move toward healing. I am the organizer and convener of this conference.
QueerPGH: How can other people get involved or support this conference?
Leonard: Check out our Facebook event page. Our website, or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
People can also donate or sponsor someone to attend by contacting us as well. People can also feel free to contact the host church, JUDAH Fellowship for more information.