Due to the incredible financial and prayerful support that we received in the weeks and months leading up to World Youth Day, our pilgrims had a lasting impact in Panama and beyond:
- We had over 75,000 hits on our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, during World Youth Day, which allowed people to follow our pilgrims’ day-to-day activities, spreading our message of radical love and inclusion in Panama.
- Our pilgrims distributed over 2,500 small souvenirs to other World Youth Day pilgrims, including buttons (which read “I am Equally Blessed” and “It’s Our Church, Too”) and LGBTQI-inclusive prayer cards in both English and Spanish.
- Each of our pilgrims had dozens of individual conversations every day with other young adults from North, Central, and South America; Europe; Asia; Oceania; and Africa.
- Our pilgrims were featured in several large media outlets, including The Advocate, The National Catholic Reporter, The Washington Blade, and Bondings 2.0.
Additionally, our pilgrim Meli Barber had an opportunity to ask a presenting bishop a question on the dignity of LGBTQI individuals and families in the face of ongoing discrimination in the Church, especially in regards to unjust firings of LGBTQI church workers and the denial of sacraments. The full interaction, in front of an audience of hundreds, can be seen below:
The Equally Blessed pilgrims also took time to meet with LGBTQI leaders in Panama, including Pau González, the founder of Hombres Trans Panamá, an organization for transgender men in Panama; Lorena Arosemena Charles, a popular Panamanian podcaster and co-founder of Diversa Mov, a local lesbian group; and Guille Tejada and Álvaro Gómez Prado, two well-known Panamanian YouTubers who host a weekly LGBTQI-themed show, Estos Dos Manes. The latter two featured two of the pilgrims in a video on their channel. The popular Panamanian radio host Gabby Gnazzo also featured Equally Blessed on her show.
After returning to the US, Equally Blessed coordinator John Freml worked with Pau González to assemble a list of 51 individuals who had reached out to Equally Blessed via email and social media and who had expressed interest in organizing a local Catholic LGBTQI movement in Panama, where none currently exists, and in other nearby countries in Central and South America. As a direct result of this effort, LGBTQI Catholics in Panama and Costa Rica are planning in-person meetings to begin organizing, along with monthly virtual meetings for those in other nearby countries, to share ideas and organizing strategies.
The work continues!
Your prayers and financial support are needed for this critical work to continue. Your gift of any amount is appreciated!