Back in the days leading up to the Supreme Court hearing about a pivotal case regarding the federal government’s mistreatment of same-sex couples – during which your Facebook friends became indistinguishable behind an array of similar pink-and-red equality sign profile pictures – some friends chose to represent themselves as atheist LGBT activists. They did this by, for example, adding the signature “red atheist A” on top of the equality symbol. This raised the question: why did some atheists feel the need to add “atheism” to the message of equality?

This question came to mind again as we stood at the Million “Fag” March cheering for equality, carrying, among other things, a banner for KCAC. There’s always at least one or two people who ask the question, “Why are the atheists here?”

The answer to that question, of course, will vary from person to person; some will say it’s to add balanced representation amidst the mix of messages about a love-affirming God or Jesus; some will say it’s because the path that took them to atheism was a direct result of their support for LGBT equality; some will say it’s to show that atheists support issues and people that span the theological divide between religious and non-religious; some will say it’s to represent their whole identity – a person who belongs to both the LGBT and atheist community. Whatever the personal reasons are, I want to make the reason KCAC makes a noticeable presence at events like these clear:

We do it because we want to make sure everyone knows we’re building an LGBT-inclusive community.

Now, for many, this seems unnecessary; most, if not all, of you reading this are very, very pro-LGBT (if not a member of the LGBT community yourself). The fact of the matter is, though, that anti-LGBT sentiments, while commonly held by religious people, are not the sole domain of religion. In many ways, it’s a cultural phenomena. I’ve seen and argued with atheists who believe that homosexuality is “contrary to the natural intent of sex”, that trans people are “living unnatural lifestyles”; I’ve heard from friends who have been the direct targets of these kinds of experiences.

As sad as it is, it’s necessary (and important) to stand up at these events, as atheists, and say, “The Kansas City atheist community is a community for you. You are welcome, you are loved, and you are wanted.”