Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. Matthew 10:29:31
This powerful verse from the Book of Matthew resonates deeply with LGBTQ advocates Sarah and Ryan, two young people with one great, collective dream. Growing up in religious families made Sarah and Ryan realize how isolating and shameful coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender can feel. Their dream is to create a space where young LGBTQs can go to feel supported and safe, where they can have conversations about faith and sexuality that are not mutually exclusive.
Sparrows House, a name inspired by the verse from Matthew, is the vision that Sarah and Ryan share. Using their combined twenty years of experience in youth mentorship, they hope to develop a community that’s reach is threefold: online, in local community groups, and in camp programs. Sparrows House would inspire an online community where LGBTQ youth can find resources, information, and support. Local community groups would serve as a place of refuge, volunteerism, and a safe space to exist in solidarity with other LGBTQs and allies. Finally, the Sparrows House camp programs would exist as a retreat from everyday life. Creating a non-threatening environment is vital in establishing a strong, supportive community, and Sarah and Ryan deeply believe that an outdoor, camp setting would help LGBTQ youth feel free to be themselves.
Sparrows House evolved from the dream to create a place that Sarah and Ryan wished they had access to when they first came out. The name “Sparrows House” holds deep significance for them both, and for Sarah, it hits especially close to home. She explains that when she first came out, studying the bible and reading this verse from Matthew 10:29:31 is what helped her to find strength and acceptance of herself. She explains, “When I came out I found it nearly impossible to find support where I could ask questions and talk about my faith and sexuality. I stayed in the closet as long as I did out of fear and because of my religious beliefs, that who I was at my core was not good enough for God.”
Sarah explains how not even the lowliest sparrow is forgotten by God; realizing this allowed her to see that her identity would not alienate her from her faith. Ryan and Sarah want to create a space where LGBTQ youth, adults, and allies can meet at the intersection of faith and sexuality. Harrowing statistics reveal that far too many LGBTQ youth fall prey to suicide and feelings of worthlessness after they come out. Through Sparrows House, Sarah and Ryan would help youth feel accepted and safe once again.
The pair is still in the planning stages of realizing Sparrows House. For more information about the work that Ryan and Sarah are doing to better the lives of LGBTQ youth, you can reach them by contacting Sparrowshouse@hotmail.com