A Christian Girl Stood Up To Anti-Gay Churchgoers With A Sharp Comment On Facebook
Last month, I wrote a post about aphotography project by Braden Summers. Braden photographed LGBT couples inromantic settings around the world to show a different depiction of romantic love — one that we do not see very often. This is what it looked like:

The project got a lot of, well, love. It was shared far and wide (thanks for that!). And I received lots of messages on my Facebook page about it.


But one message stood out, from a girl named Esther:

I asked if I could speak with her sister because she sounded awesome.

Esther put me in touch with Serena. Serena and I had a short email chat and then hopped onto Skype, where wediscussed her faith, her beliefs, and how she dealt with the wide range ofresponses she received when she shared my post on Facebook.

She told me that she got a barrage of critical responses from a small minority of fellow Christians. People were emailingher and sending Facebook messages to her asking why she supported gay rights and whether she is gay herself. She even got phone calls at work abouther "controversial views" from people trying to convince her to change her stance.

Serena was concerned:Was she going to be kicked out of her church? Howshould she respond?

She told me she responded to each message sent to her (she showed me the emails — she did so with tolerance and kindness).

But the best part of it all was when Serena reposted my link with a definitive statement to end the chaos.

Just read how ace her reply is:

Serena told me the head pastor of her church told her that discussion is a good thing because homosexuality isn't talked about much in her community and kept very "hush-hush" in her church. She explained that she wasn't angry about the reaction she got — in fact, she felt it "opened up dialogue ... it required people to express their opinion, but also to really listen to other opinions, too."

Serena helped shape the conversation about LGBT rights in a positive way and encouraged a dialogue even when she faced a backlash. Simply sharing a post (like mine) may not seemlike a big thing to do, but Serena has proved that it can bring an importantissue to the table that otherwise would have been ignored or misunderstood.

When I asked Serena if she'd share another Upworthy post that mirrored her views or supported LGBT rights, she replied, "absolutely."

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.