Will we see advancements within the Amish community when it comes to recognizing and acknowledging the existence of queer members?
Will we see a softening approach to LGBT former members?
And how can we assist or help?
Most of us who were raised within the community have a hard time seeing how the future will change, and that is heartbreaking.
Historically, the way that change has come about in other religious communities and in culture at large has been through dialogue. The Amish famously shut down dissenting voices.
So how do we move forward?
I think the first step is to acknowledge the reality on the ground. We should understand that there are obstacles for those who do leave and we can work hard to make sure they have the resources and support that they need after walking away from their homes.
The support available for former Amish people who have left the community is often religious and homophobic. When someone reaches out to us we try to connect them to a local LGBT support group as well as practical assistance with things like acquiring proper ID to work and opportunities to continued education or financial and housing support. How about those who have made a decision to stay?
The biggest thing we can do it's to provide them an outlet to be heard. There's something very powerful in knowing that there are others walking in your shoes.
We as an organization and individuals have to recognize the risks that many are taking by reaching out to anyone.
Often people who stay have a desire to be rid of what makes them feel different. We always have to remember not to be judgemental about the path others will take to live their most comfortable, fulfilling lives.
We celebrate the part of Amish culture that enriches the lives of those that stay and endeavor to provide a space for them to have a voice.
As there has been more intermingling between the Amish world and the outside world there may be some opportunities in the future to help normalize LGBT people in the eyes of Amish people. Despite the pop-culture Characterization, they do not live in a complete vacuum. They are aware of the tectonic changes of the day.
Often that provides more pushback but not always.
We would be happy and excited to hear other people's suggestions on how we might be able to affect change for LGBT Amish persons!