Pride Coming Out Stories

In honor of Pride Month, we're highlighting LGBTQ+ members of Trinity’s congregation who've previously shared their stories in interviews with sacristan Dane Miller. We’ll be releasing one interview per day in the run-up to Pride Sunday, June 28, 2020.

Their unique oral histories explore issues of identity, community, and faith. We welcome you to contemplate alone or in a group with the accompanying guided reflection questions. Happy Pride!

Reflections of an LGBTQI Elder

Al DiRaffaele

Trinity parishioner Al DiRaffaele shares the wisdom gathered from a life that has included an “almost Ozzie-and-Harriet-type of upbringing” in Brooklyn, a tour of duty as a draftee in Vietnam, and a life of service to others, including homeless women and his neighbors dying before their time in the AIDS pandemic.

Guided Discussion Questions

  • History and education are important to understanding a movement and those in it. How do we continue to educate younger LGBTQ generations and the general public?

  • How does keeping good stewardship of the history and experiences of LGBTQ individuals work in creating inclusive communities?


The Life Lesson: Be Yourself

Steve Leavitt

Steve Leavitt is a member of the Trinity community whose life has included a childhood spent partially overseas in a military family, decades of work in the fashion industry of Seventh Avenue, and now specializing in the care and repair of vestments and liturgical supplies for congregations all over the northeast, including Trinity Church Wall Street. He speaks of faith, hard times, and ‘just being you,’ noting that relocation can be a source of freedom for self-expression and self-discovery.

Guided Discussion Questions

  • What makes a community inclusive, safe, and welcoming for everyone?

  • What is the work we need to do in creating and maintaining safe spaces in our communities for LGBTQ individuals?


Everybody Is Who They Are, Love Them

Karen Thomas

Karen Thomas, a Trinity parishioner who identifies as LGBTQ+, offers a half-century perspective, including being a witness to the Stonewall uprising, serving 34 years behind bars, and currently working to assist women re-entering society after incarceration.

Guided Discussion Questions

  • In our society, the landscape of queer acceptance has shifted over the years, going from being concentrated in small urban areas to a more widespread cultural acceptance and with a broader scope. What do you think LGBTQ acceptance and safe community will look like and feel like in the next 50 years?

  • What does a society committed to integrity and unification look like?

Lesson of the Phoenix

Mark Alvino

Trinity parishioner Mark Alvino discusses his life as a gay member of a college fraternity in the late 1980s, the way his sister-in-law helped to repair his relationship with his parents, and his commitment to bring healing for those harmed by the opioid crisis. Mark speaks of his coming out experience as one of a ‘rolling’ nature, with exploring his sexuality in college and struggling with coming out during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The road to self-discovery led to finding space and refuge in unsafe places that included consistent exposure to drugs and alcohol.

Guided Discussion Questions

  • The AIDS epidemic and other disruptions such as the lingering effects of substance abuse have played a part in creating stigma within and around the LGBTQ community. How do we address and dismantle stigma for marginalized communities?

  • What are the ways we can walk, in compassion, with someone as they struggle? 

To Stand Courageously in the Face of Abject Darkness

Farris Michael Thomas, Jr.

Farris Michael Thomas, Jr., better known as Tom, looks back on the challenges of a professional life lived for a time in Latin America, a pivotal moment of truth at his own engagement party, and his activism on behalf of his LGBTQ+ siblings during the AIDS pandemic. His story is one of a personal journey in finding the strength and courage to be more open.

Guided Discussion Questions

  • What is courage and self-agency and how do we use them as fuel for activism?

  • What does social justice for the LGBTQ community look like to you?

Looking to get started on your journey in LGBTQ activism? Here are some great ways to do that:

The Safe Zone Project is a free online resource that provides curricula, activities, and other opportunities to learn about LGBTQ+ identities, gender, and sexuality, and examine prejudice, assumptions, and privilege.

Since 1983, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has been supporting, fostering, and celebrating the LGBT community of New York City. See the ways you can join them in advocating for the care, celebration, and rights of the LGBTQ community here.

Since the days of Stonewall, the Callen-Lorde Community Center has been a global leader in LGBTQ healthcare. Their Health Outreach to Teens (HOTT) program provides sensitive, non-judgmental, affordable health care for LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-24. Join Trinity in supporting this effort by donating here.