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Does God care if I'm Queer?
Sometimes that feeling of being alone can be really intense when you’re LGBTQ+ and have faith – people who understand both parts of your life can feel in short supply to the say the least…
If this is something that’s impacted you then hopefully this will help and if you have things to say yourself or have found great sites out there, we’d love to hear from you!
If you’re finding it difficult balancing your LGBTQ+ identity and your faith, I think the first thing to remember is that loads of people have been where you are!
That feeling you might have that “who you are” and “what you believe” are somehow incompatible is all too familiar for a lot of people. Even if you’re on your own in your faith community – you’re not alone across the world.
The second thing is that all of those people will very likely find their own understanding of what’s right for them.
It’s very difficult to say there is one answer that will fit everyone, but there are some universal things to think about if this is something you’re worried about. Hopefully this page will help you work out what’s right for you.
What's at the root of it all?
The vast majority of religious or spiritual beliefs have their foundations in love – loving one another, showing kindness to others, honouring your elders and so on.
If you have people in your life with faith in something that doesn’t teach love and kindness to others above all else, then what does it teach? It might be worth thinking about what the core values in that faith are.
If the foundation of a belief is love then you ought to feel accepted and loved within that religious community, even if you feel they condone certain behaviours.
Remember though that there are faith communities that will offer love and acceptance for who you are (without the small print!) and if you’ve found one that’s fantastic!
Faith and Community
There’s a bit of a distinction between faith and a religious community…
Often they’re tangled together; you have faith so you join a community to share and celebrate that faith together.
Being LGBTQ+ could sometimes feel at odds, either with your faith or the community you’re a part of – but they are slightly different things.
Ask yourself; Are you worried that “who you are” doesn’t fit with the teachings of your faith, or worried that “who you are” doesn’t fit with what the group of people, or community, around you is saying?
If you’re pretty sure your faith doesn’t actually have a problem with who you are, but your community does, it sounds like finding a different community might help – you can find a whole heap of LGBTQ+ inclusive faith groups on the sites listed at the top of this page.
Pulling away from a hurtful community does not mean giving up your faith! If you feel your faith doesn’t accept you then maybe exploring your faith in greater detail might help, either through scriptures or simple conversations. At first, it might feel this means you have choose between your faith and your identity, but that might be not true. Doing a little leg work might open up possibilities you weren’t aware of before…
Coversion Therapy doesn't work
So, you ought to know that there is no psychological evidence whatsoever that gay conversion therapy has ever worked for anyone.
There is an abundance of evidence that it causes significant harm and distress however, which is why it’s being outlawed in an increasing number of states right now and why the UK government has just made a commitment to outlawing it here as well.
You may have heard testimonies to the contrary, but it will usually be from people advertising that conversion therapy, or who benefit in some way for insisting it does work – it’s OK to question the validity of testimonies like that.
The root of these “therapies” lies in the thinking that “this is wrong with you, let’s fix it and make you like this instead.”
Actual therapy doesn’t to work like that!
Actual therapy is usually a space for you to talk, reflect and, if necessary, make changes in your life that are right for you, that come from you, with the support of a person trained to pick up things you are saying and ask the right questions, and never to tell you “you should be or do this”.
“Conversion therapy” doesn’t “cure” being LGBTQ+, it focuses on (sometimes alarming!) behavioural and cognitive tricks to subvert (bury) a part of yourself, and that is never healthy. And it doesn’t actually change who you are.
A lot of the time really worrying and potentially dangerous techniques are used that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Derren Brown special…
They can also be dangerous because they use “half-truths”…
Some “therapies” say that gender and sexuality doesn’t have to define you (which is true) because those LGBTQ+ identities come from unhealthy or traumatic childhood experiences (which is not true). They say that therapy can help you work through childhood difficulties that are impacting on your behaviour (true) and that LGBTQ+ identities are a learned behaviour that can be treated in the same way (not true).
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There are LGBTQ+ people in all faiths
Whether they’re accepted by all organised institutions or not… LGBTQ+ people exist in all faiths! And if they exist it should give you hope that it’s definitely possible to hold your beliefs and be who you are.
If you want to find some in your area have a look at these sites:
For Islamic LGBTQ+ communities
For stories of LGBTQ+ migrants from a range of cultures and beliefs:
Look for yourself
You may have experienced people quoting scripture and verse at you in relation to LGBTQ+ identities, sexual orientation and gender.
What’s really important is for you to read those holy books and texts for yourself and in the context they were written so you can come to your own understandings.
Different groups and congregations within a single religion can reach a variety of conclusions from a single passage. Most religions feature a wealth of denominations and many of them have their roots in these different conclusions.
If you’re struggling to find examples of these that embrace LGBTQ+ identities, some can be found here:
People aren't perfect
People get things wrong all the time, even when acting in what they genuinely believe is the best interests of people they love.
We’re all only human!
Many religions and faiths describe religious leaders as “anointed” or holding “divine rights” in some way, and a select few consider a specific leader to be “infallible” (like the Pope – it means they can never be wrong!)
But no matter how positive a person’s impact it doesn’t make them perfect. Just be cautious how much weight people’s words to carry for you.
Religious leaders can offer great comfort, wisdom and insight, but it’s ok to disagree with them sometimes (really, it is!) If you have the opportunity to chat with them about your concerns it might help and prove really valuable (and it might be a good idea to have a look for yourself at a range of sources and opinions beforehand).
The "Going to Hell" thing
You could argue that there are two approaches people take in telling others about their faith. Either they aim to inspire; talking about how their faith has benefited them and enriched their lives, or aim to scare; talking about why you’re doomed if you don’t agree with them.
Shouting at people, saying they’re going to hell is definitely in this latter category. People who are genuinely content and happy with their beliefs don’t tend to waste time scaring other people into making drastic life choices, they spend that time talking about the joys that those beliefs have brought them.
Sometimes the reason people do this is if they’re scared themselves…
Scared they may be wrong and need more people to agree with them… Scared they might be right and will lose people they care about… Either way, scared people tend not to make the most well-informed decisions, and causing someone to make decisions about anything, let alone their beliefs, out of fear isn’t a particularly compassionate thing to do.
It doesn’t reflect the pillars of love and acceptance that form the backbone of so many religions and is even considered by many to be a form of hate speech.
Where ever your journey takes you, be cautious of the impact other people’s fear can have.
It's OK if this is tough
Often people think of faith in the same way that they think about other beliefs in things like philosophy or politics. They see faith as something that can be decided on through logical thinking, debate and simply weighing up pros and cons, the same way someone might weigh up a decision on who to vote for, or what’s preferable between capitalism and communism.
The fact is though that spiritual beliefs can be a different beast altogether.
If you’ve been raised in a religious family, and brought up with various beliefs, then it can very much feel a part of who you are, often just as much as your gender identity or sexuality.
It’s often not something that you can simply “reason” yourself out of when it comes in to conflict with other parts of your life. To people outside your faith it might seem like a no brainer – “your beliefs are making you feel bad, so just change those beliefs” right?
Well, faith and spiritual beliefs usually goes deeper than this. It’s often more than just a nice tidy life philosophy or a code of morals and ethics. It can very much give people a sense of who they are.
It might involve a whole community of people who share those beliefs. It probably involves a personal relationship with god or gods. Those are all big deals!
It can take time to explore them find what’s right for you. Give yourself that time!
Spend it talking to other people who have been there through the sites on this page or the groups that they mention. Spend time looking at religious texts yourself. Spend time mediating or praying. Spend time asking tough questions.
Just don’t spend time beating yourself up for being LGBTQ+ or for being religious or for anything else that there’s nothing wrong with (or that you had no choice in for that matter…!) you’re worth much more than that!