In local chapters across the United States and Canada, Dignity members worship openly with other LGBT and supportive Catholics; socialize, share personal and spiritual concerns; and work together on educational and homosexual rights issues.
DignityUSA was founded in 1969 in San Diego, CA by Dr. Patrick Nidorf, a Roman Catholic priest (since retired). The organization began as a support group for homosexual Catholics. In 1970 Dignity was flourishing in Los Angeles and the first chapter was established there. The organization developed to a national level in 1973, with chapters now established throughout the entire US, and parts of Canada. The current President of DignityUSA is Mark Matson.
Throughout its existence Dignity has fought for "a time when Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Catholics are affirmed and experience dignity through the integration of their spirituality with their sexuality, and as beloved persons of God participate fully in all aspects of life within the Church and Society."
"When I started Dignity [in 1969], in the eyes of the world it was probably a very small thing. However, in the microcosm of my own life, it was a monumental gamble. The fact is that we are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.
I think that is what Dignity is all about. Teaching people to dare to be themselves, to risk being open to love, to dare to open their hearts and let the world peek in.
…Let us hold hands to share our strength, love and faith with one another. Let us challenge anyone who would question our validity."
Pax (Patrick) X. Nidorf (on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Dignity/San Diego)
Because of their opposition to official Catholic teaching that homosexual acts are "acts of grave depravity", neither DignityUSA nor Dignity Canada are recognized entities within the Catholic Church. They are prohibited from the use of Catholic Church properties and from advertising in Catholic Church publications. Dignity does however attempt dialogue with Bishops of the Church, and as an organization, they are tolerated by many in the Church, although rejected by others.