Kathy Westman believes love makes a family.
Westman is in charge of the Parlor Art Gallery at the Congregational United Church of Christ in Campton Hills, which currently is hosting the traveling photo exhibit “Love Makes A Family: Portraits of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People and Their Families.”
“It is an exhibit about letting people define themselves as families,” Westman said.
The exhibit was created by the Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization Family Diversity Projects as a way of helping combat homophobia. Since it began touring in 1996, the exhibit has traveled to more than 1,000 communities across the nation.
People can view the exhibit from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to noon Fridays at the church, 40W451 Fox Mill Blvd. The exhibit will be on display through Saturday, March 15.
Westman believes the exhibit is timely given same-sex marriages will begin in Illinois after the state legalized gay marriage last year.
“These are just people who love each other and have come together,” she said.
The Congregational United Church of Christ itself is an “open and affirming” church, meaning it welcomes persons of all sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expressions.
“We don’t discriminate,” said the Rev. Suzy Richards Daly, associate minister at the church. “To me, love is love. There is not enough of it in this world.”
“We make clear that all families are equal,” she said. “There are not normal families. There are not different families.”
Interviews with the families that are part of the “Love Makes A Family” exhibit accompany the photos.
“I felt like I was literally engaging with them,” Westman said. “I had to be sensitive to their joy and pain. It helps bring us into their zone when you start hearing their voices. Their story becomes very personal.”
The Parlor Art Gallery hasn’t shied from controversial topics. Last summer, the gallery had an exhibit depicting the plight of the Palestinian people, and this summer, it will display the Shower of Stoles Project, a traveling collection of more than 1,000 liturgical stoles and other sacred items representing the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith.
The project was founded by Martha Juillerat, a lesbian Presbyterian minister in Missouri who chose to set aside her ordination in 1995 when she was threatened with being defrocked after announcing her sexual orientation.
“It’s another arena for us to explore issues of faith,” Daly said.
To find out more information about the “Love Makes A Family” exhibit, visit www.familydiv.org.