LGBTQ+ Groups: Political Life
While these groups provided religious and social spaces, they were also political. Jerry Brennan, the founder of Dignity/Central PA, involved the group in advocacy for LGBTQ+ anti-discrimination protections. Steven Leshner said “it was maybe only within a few weeks of my being involved that John and […] Jerry [and I], went to the Capitol to lobby for gay rights.” The AIDs Crisis had a significant effect on both groups, impacting much of MCCs male clergy, such as the founder of MCC Lancaster, Arthur Runyan, who died of AIDs in 1984.
Dignity became the forefront here in Harrisburg area fighting for rights. You know, we talked to our senators. We talked to our mayor.” – John Barns, 2015
By about 1990, I think we [MCC] had lost probably a third of our clergy because they were men, and they […] all died of AIDS.” – Rev. Mary Merriman, 2013