What does it mean to be queer and spiritual? I think this has been a central question for me. The reality is that many religions are overtly or subtly homophobic or transphobic. This streak of bigotry throughout so many religions is something found in the U.S. and across the globe. And it is what has turned many LGBTQ+ people away from religion. Some have gone running and screaming. And who can blame them? Religion and spirituality should be all about acceptance, inclusion and diversity. Every church, mosque, synagogue and all other places of worship should be open and affirming. No one should be turned away at the door because of their sexual orientation of gender identity/expression.
I think this is one of the reasons that for so long I avoided religion. Way back in Sunday School, I remember one of my teachers saying that when she went to Boston and saw a “homosexual” she walked to the other side of the street. It was around junior high that I dropped out of church and went my own way. But as stated in my previous entry, this eventually did not work for me. I needed a place to ask the “big questions” that started to plague me as I felt increasing alienation from our culture. What I now know is that any religious or spiritual tradition or path that shuns LGBTQ people needs to acknowledge that their traditions are not acceptable. There have always been LGBTQ people in their faith and there always will be. It is not a question of whether LGBTQ people will be there or not; it is a question of whether LGBTQ people will be openly embraced, accepted and celebrated or not.
My religion’s official stance on LGBTQ people is not one of inclusion and acceptance. Despite this, there are many LGBTQ people in the church, both “out” and not out. Many wonder why I don’t simply walk away from my religion. I understand where these people are coming from. My response is that I am standing in my truth and demanding my place at the table. I fully sympathize with those who choose to walk away. But the church is never going to change unless some of us stay put and advocate for transformation from within. We deserve to fully be who we are within the faith traditions of our rearing or of our choice. It is going to take a tremendous amount of work to change these deeply ingrained attitudes and traditions but I know it can be done and in fact change is happening in big and small ways all around us.
Spirituality can help queer people. The reason I choose to embrace religion and spirituality is because I need something to give me gas for the car. I have faced so much adversity as a queer and trans person in this society. Because of this, I have a strong need for something that fuels my fire. I need determination, I need grace and I need perseverance. And I need something that makes life more than something to simply survive. I need something to make my life worth living and to make it meaningful. Spirituality gives the journey, the search for meaning, so much of its life and power. I am delighted that spirituality found me once again and I am determined to make a place for myself and for all queer people in religions. The good thing about spirituality is that it does not require religion. Being spiritual is an immensely personal journey and we can do it anywhere, anytime. As I continue this blog, expect issues of queer spirituality to bubble up many times. It sits at the very core of who I am.