Bálint Szabadkai is currently working as a commercial consultant at a Hungarian medium-sized firm offering partners office automation devices, 3D printers and 3D scanners. Bálint has always been involved with volunteer work organising summer camps for kids, reporting for a Christian youth magazine or helping refugees with food and shelter. He graduated at ELTE University with a political analyst major and since then acquired a degree in mental health at Semmelweiss University.
He was one of the workshop leaders at the Face to Face conference - April 26-27, 2018 - https://www.pdcs-conference.sk/
Q: Is the dialogue between Christians and LGBT people possible at all? A: If you have two persons respecting each other then dialogue is always possible.
Q: And is it important in Hungary these days? A: Definitely. I mean, there are not too [many] platforms or opportunities for these kinds of groups to meet. In Hungary, we found that most Christians don’t really have any personal experience with LGBT people and, if they have, then they don’t really think it’s important to treat them as a group in a special way or don’t think that it’s necessary. Or they don’t really see themselves as biased or don’t really see that these people need special attention. And, on the other hand (and this is also a simplification), most of the LGBT community people think of Christians as really out of their world. So not really in day-to-day communication or relation to them. Some of them (or most of them) think they’re not really allies, but more like against what they believe in. It’s pretty hard to break down these walls and this is our ultimate mission, what we would like to do is just to have these people have the opportunity to talk to the other.
Q: What are the activities of your organization? A: We have different kinds of activities. One of them is a living library project, you probably heard about it, it’s quite popular, I think, also here in Slovakia. We try to make those kinds of believers or even spiritual leaders available to people who think that a pro-gay sentiment and a LGBT-supporting attitude in the church is important. So that’s one part of the story – different kinds of persons who are LGBT Christians, who can share their stories. This type of availability or this type of event is especially for those kinds of Christians who don’t really have an opinion about the LGBT community, about including LGBT people in the church. We think that, if they have the opportunity to meet this kind of people, then they might have a better understanding of the situation.
Q: Are you getting any support from the priests? A: Fortunately, yes. We are working with more and more priests and pastors from the Catholic Church, Lutheran Church, even some from the Calvinist Church, and we also get some support from independent small neo-protestant communities. What we experience is that only those kinds of people who are treating this issue as an issue of importance [are the ones] who really have personal experience – so like a friend or a family member who came out as LGBT. If someone has a personal story like that, then they can relate to the whole topic. Relating to this kind of topic – the LGBT inclusion – is very hard if you don’t know anybody who has this kind of problem. If you don’t know, and there is no story that reached you, then it’s hard for anyone to identify this as a problem. So we try to make people sensible, we try to deliver these stories, we try to gather people who have a distinct story and put it out in the open if the person agrees. Actually, we founded this movement, Christians for Gays. We are all heterosexual Christians. We think that it’s important because we all have a friend or someone, a figure of great importance, who we would like to pose as some kind of a role model, who we’re [thinking] of as a role model for ourselves, who has been chased away or treated badly by their Christian community just because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. So this is our story and we like to do it, we lack more of these stories.
Q: What is the value most needed in Hungarian society? A: Most of all, I believe in Christian values. I believe in the power of just opening your heart, that it is absolutely required for a partnership, for any kind of dialogue. If you just read the Bible, you see that what Christ did is basically just sitting down on any bench, on any ground, and talking to people, observing what they have to say, and taking their stories seriously. If each and every one of us just did that, then I think this would be a much more beautiful life.
Prepared by Zuzana Fialová and Ana Cojocaru