Panama: Our World Youth Day presence told LGBTQI Catholics they are not alone

Meli Barber is a former director of religious education and youth ministry, and currently a Catholic Worker, social worker and armchair theologian. She earned a master's degree in theology from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Social Work from the Indiana University School of Social Work.

In December 2015, I quit my job because I knew it would be impossible for my wife and me to have the life we wanted and for me to continue working as a director of religious education and youth minister. I accepted a job as a social worker, recruiting and licensing foster families for a national nonprofit agency. 

I recently went to the Jan. 22-27 World Youth Day in Panama as a witness for LGBTQI equality because that is a choice I never should have had to make.

I attended World Youth Day as one of six pilgrims traveling with Equally Blessed, a coalition that comprises Call To Action, DignityUSA and New Ways Ministry. We are faithful Catholics committed to full equality for LGBTQI people. We came to speak, to listen, to be seen and to be heard. The buttons we passed out said it best: "It's our church too."

Our first day, I was anxious about how we would be received.  Read more via National Catholic Reporter