History: Founded in 2010
Many Voices was founded in 2010 to offer an online resource center for the many Christians—particularly people of color—who were not being served by the LGBT-focused programs within the mainline Protestant denominations.
In 2011, after an extensive strategic planning process, we narrowed our focus to organize specifically from within the Black Church.
In 2012, we incorporated in the District of Columbia, obtained IRS 501(c)(3) status, set up an independent board, and created a solid infrastructure.
All along, Many Voices’ work has been led by two co-directors and blessed with the pro bono contributions of several experts including Pamela Wilson and Wayne Pawlowski, internationally recognized trainers in sexuality and gender education; Rev. Dr. Ronald Hopson, a Howard University professor who specializes in sexuality and the Black Church; and Mr. Sterling Tucker, a veteran civil rights organizer and nonprofit consultant.
Ann Thompson Cook
Ann is an experienced executive, educator, and advocate for LGBT equality, known for her ability to gain trust and partner with people from diverse backgrounds. For over 25 years, she has facilitated dialogue and produced educational materials for churches on sexual orientation and gender diversity. Her educational books – And God Loves Each One, Made in God’s Image, and Dios nos ama por iqual – are distributed throughout the world.
Recognized as an expert in nonprofit leadership, Ann has provided executive coaching, executive transition services, and strategic planning facilitation for leaders of national LGBT and other nonprofit organizations. Previously, she served as President/CEO of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, where she initiated, with Rev. Carlton Veazey, the National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality. And she’s served on national and local boards that build bridges and promote dialogue about sexuality.
Asked what inspires her to do this work as a straight-identified woman, Ann says, I’m troubled that anyone is afraid to be fully who they are. I dream of a world in which all children are free to develop their own gifts and interests, knowing that they are welcome and celebrated, just as they are.
Rev. Cedric A. Harmon
Cedric is a native Midwesterner with Southern and New England influences—a surprise last child to older parents who shared with him the gift of experience and wisdom. He has a BS in media management from Emerson College and has completed extensive graduate work at Wesley Seminary. An ordained Baptist minister, Cedric worked for 13 years as Associate Field Director for Religious Outreach at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He worked passionately to prepare clergy for legislative testimony on religious liberty, traveled extensively facilitating dialogues and workshops and provided media training. Cedric served on the Advisory Board of the Black Church Initiative which presents the National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, DC.
Cedric worked with clergy in the District of Columbia to successfully secure support for marriage equality 2008- 2009.
Cedric’s deep faith calls him to do the work of justice and equality, and to equip others to do the same. He’s also known for his writing and television appearances—again on human rights and social justice—and serves on several boards having to do with sexuality and religion.
He previously served as pastor of a “radically inclusive” congregation in Washington, DC.
- Compiled a rich and growing resource center that includes worship tools, thoughtful articles by respected scholars and thought-leaders in the Black church, age appropriate educational tools for children and adults about sexual orientation and gender diversity, and much more.
- Educated hundreds of Black pastors and lay leaders at seminars and panels exploring sexuality, gender, and theology—preparing them for thoughtful dialogue about sexuality and LGBT justice within their congregations and among their peers.
- Launched powerful video campaigns featuring the personal stories of African American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people, prominent supportive religious leaders, and HBCU students. In addition to expanding Many Voices’ reach into the wider community, the videos are used as teaching tools in seminars with religious leaders and congregations.
- Calmed down the rhetoric during the lead-up to Maryland ‘s ballot referendum on marriage in response to vitriolic speech from some Black pulpits—such as Rev. Anderson’s reference to“these things [homosexuality] that are worthy of death “
- Our fairness pledge,” which was circulated by several state-wide and national advocacy organizations, invited Black clergy in Maryland—regardless of their views or stand on marriage—to stand back from divisive, hurtful statements and enter into loving, respectful dialogue that honored the dignity of all persons. Circulating it made a huge difference in calming down the rhetoric in the days and weeks leading up to the marriage equality referendum, allowing people to vote thoughtfully, mindful of their gay and lesbian families and friends.
- Produced groundbreaking print materials; a series of 6 x 9 informational cards on the Bible, God, and LGBT, marriage and sin. Also, two introductory guides; And God Loves Each One: A Black Church Guide to Sexual Orientation and Made In God’s Image: A Black Church Guide to Gender Difference.
- Conducted two breakthrough Twitter Town Halls; On Sexuality, Scripture and Saving the LGBT Movement and It’s time to talk about violence against QTPOC.
- Present annual worship services in Washington, DC and in Charlotte, NC; Celebrating the Soul of Justice and One Charlotte for Justice: a celebration of the soul of justice through the arts.
- Provide key leadership in the NC Faith Forward Coalition combatting discrimination and working to make North Carolina a more inclusive and just state.
- Created two widely popular social media series; Revolutionary Rhetoric: A soul sermon series and It’s Time to Talk: Healing from religious trauma on the Medium platform.
- Provide coaching and advice to supportive pastors on issues they’re facing in their congregations or community, and guidance with public statements before legislative committees or in response to media requests.
- Lead and conduct workshops, panel discussions and seminars at various conferences and conventions nationwide.
The movement continues to build and the vision of Black religious communities that embrace the diversity of the human family and ensures that all are treated with love, compassion and justice remains before us.