Being queer and religious

Religion and homosexuality are often considered opposites. For people who do not fit into a man-woman binary, religious contexts can be difficult too. How, then, do lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or inter people who are also religious deal with the current prejudices?

No question about it—official comments about homosexuality voiced by major religious communities in Germany have largely ranged from being behavior-sceptical to condeming. Their focus is often less on bisexual, trans or inter people, but also these people are seldom welcomed openly.

Queer and religious – is that possible?

Many LGBTIQs and their communities keep distance from religious organisations—sometimes from religion altogether—because of sceptical and/or hostile statements issued by religious groups and because of personal experiences of exclusion. But there are also those who don’t—for example, a gay mosque goer, a transsexual lesbian priest, an intersex member of a parish community, a bisexual theologian etc.

However, individuals who are both LGBTIQ and religious or those interested in spirituality and faith find themselves neither understood by other LGBTIQs nor by other believers.

Some experience phases where their sexual orientation or gender and faith are in conflict with one another. Others feel that their love and being is in harmony with their idea of God and ethics of religion. There are still others who feel their relationship to God or spirituality is a source of strength when fighting LGBTIQ-hostile environments.

Bringing disparate worlds together—networking, awareness-raising, theological tracing

Many LBGTIQ believers try and connect with other LBGTIQs in their faith community for mutual support. For some, it is important to teach cis-heterosexual believers more about same sex partnerships, intersex or transgender to help dismantle prejudices and ignorance.

Others explore reasons for religious prejudices against homosexuality or against the rigid man-woman binary. For example, they demand that the respective passages in the Holy Scriptures be seen in their historical context. Or they pursue alternative interpretations or lines of traditions in the history of their faith communities, which suggests a more LGBTIQ-open understanding of partnerships, sexuality and gender.

Nowadays, LGBTIQs experience more openness and appreciation within their faith communities than the official attitude of the respective leadership. But even then, some have started their own groups or churches—sometimes along with believers who don’t feel comfortable in more restrictive churches for altogether different reasons.