Join us at the Trans and Gender Expansive Retreat: Six Degrees of Connection

QCF_Summer19_TGNCRetreat_FB.png

When I was about ten years old I remember going to my mom and asking her why I didn’t have any friends who liked Nancy Drew. “They’re great books!”  I told her. “Why don’t any of my friends want to read them?”

“Well,” I remember her saying, a little hesitantly, “Honey, most of your friends are boys, and sometimes boys don’t like to read books about girls.”

I thought that was dumb. After all, I didn’t think of myself as a girl, and I LOVED the stories about Nancy and her friends—especially her friend George, who had a boy name even though she was a girl. Who wouldn’t be into solving mysteries and going on adventures?

Eventually I met a girl who enjoyed the books as much as I did, and we bonded over that, even though I had a hard time connecting with her on other interests that I thought were “too girly.” Those stories brought us together and helped us explore ideas about who we were and who we wanted to be.

Sometimes being a gender-expansive person in Christian spaces can feel a bit like having an unusual hobby, or being into a lesser-known book series. There’s something about this Christian story you connect to, but very few of your LGBTQI2A friends are interested, or, inversely, there’s something about the stories of queer and trans folks that you connect to, but your Christian friends don’t want any part of it. The false binaries that we create and the lines we draw between Christian and LGBTQ+ or between men and women keeps us from connecting, and from seeing each other for who we are.

As an adult coming out as transgender, I drew strength from the stories of other gender-diverse people—from trans leaders like Marsha P. Johnson and Leslie Feinberg, to biblical characters like Deborah and Joseph, to new real-life friends who told me about their lives and experiences. I also grew more comfortable digging into the language used for and stories told about God, and asking questions about how God relates to our human ideas about gender. Is God like a loving father, like a wise mother, or both? What do our stories about God tell us about who we are, as image-bearers?

Stories can connect us horizontally to each other, vertically to God, backwards to our ancestors’ stories, and forward into the communities who will come after us. At this year’s Trans and Gender-Expansive group meeting at the Q Summer Retreat we’re going to bring our stories together and find ways to connect the dots.

You’re not the only one who’s into the stories of our faith, and you’re not the only person navigating the waters of this gender sea! You’re part of a legacy of bold and gentle adventurers, and we can’t wait to meet you.

Read more about the Trans and Gender Expansive Retreat from Laura Beth Buchleiter and don’t forget to register for the Summer Retreat!

Join us at the Trans and Gender Expansive Retreat: The Voice of Self Love

QCF_Summer19_TGNCRetreat_FB.png

Is the mirror your friend? When someone asks you to introduce yourself or to “tell us a little bit about you” does anxiety grip your throat and steal your ability to make a sound, let alone utter a complete sentence? Does your concept of who you are seem so far at odds with what the world may see that even meeting someone new seems like an unthinkable task?

There are many reasons any of those scenarios might describe your reality. In my own experience, living with Gender Dysphoria drove my social anxiety to unbearable levels such as those. The disconnect with who I knew I was and who I was expected to be was an ever-present, shrill alarm in my head telling me I was not worth the effort.

I made the effort to manage the situation. I worked with a body image specialist who had me attempting to stand naked in front of a mirror for 5 or 10 minutes at a time affirming the reality of what I saw. Gender Dysphoria and body dysmorphia, as it turns out, are not to be treated the same way. I knew exactly what I saw and it didn’t fit.

When that didn’t work I consulted with dream analyst. Perhaps, I was told, the subconscious effects of trauma were causing misguided perceptions of self. If we could tap into those thoughts and understand where they were coming from, then we could “correct” my perception of self and understanding of reality. Gender Dysphoria and Post Traumatic Stress, as it turns out, are not to be treated the same.

Mode after mode, specialist after specialist I did everything I could address the fear, frustration, and physical pain that dominated my life. Everything, that is, expect accepting and loving myself.

Then the door was opened to the idea that God didn’t need anything “fixed” for me to be loved.

It wasn’t just one counseling session, or even one counselor. It wasn’t one seminar or retreat or workshop or book or class or sermon. It was a cacophony of seemingly random voices all coming together to reinforce the notion that I am lovable: Able - To - Be - Loved - by God, by others, and - most of all - loved by me.

The more voices we have present in our lives reasserting that truth, the deeper it gets rooted into our realities. While the dysphoria is not completely gone and the insecurities and self doubt are often still my default way of thinking, they are no longer the only message in my head. The chill alarm they used to represent is drown in a chorus of affirmations and soft chimes of acceptance.

Listening to those new, affirming, voices has allowed me to bring my perception and presentation of self into accord and to willingly share myself and my story with others. Embracing the notion that I have value as an image bearer of the Divine has allowed me to finally make friends with the mirror.

Also, I’ve come to appreciate any opportunity to be that voice to others on their journey.

I hope and pray that we can be that voice to one another as we gather this summer in Ft. Lauderdale.

Read more about the Trans and Gender Expansive Retreat from Austen Hartke and don’t forget to register for the Summer Retreat!

5. It's more than possible for your child to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Learn more about B.T and his mini-series “6 Things I Wish Every Christian Parent of an LGBTQ Child Knew.”

For millennia, LGBTQ people around the world were in hiding, never fully understanding their own bodies, fearing for their lives, and likely never finding kinship with other LGBTQ people.

To some this is an unpopular or unbelievable statement, but it’s true: In all of human history, the best time and place to be a gay person is 2019 in America.

Now, I’m not saying it’s easy to be gay and or that there aren’t any challenges. There certainly are (and I think it’s even more challenging for our trans friends, queer people of color, etc.).

However, as an out, married, gay man, I experience unprecedented freedoms.

My husband and I have carved out a really beautiful life together. We have close friends who love us deeply. We go on vacations. We attend church. Our lives our wonderfully fulfilling, meaningful, and—like our heterosexual counterparts—mundane! We wouldn’t have it any other way.

I bring this up because some Christian parents experience intense worry about their child’s future. They worry about their child being judged, contracting a disease, self-harming, being bullied, or experiencing unique hardships. I wish I could say that these threats don’t exist. They do. However, LGBTQ people are better equipped to overcome them now and experience happy, fulfilling lives. Plus, there’s an entire ecosystem of resources, support groups, educational initiatives, and non-profits set up to support LGBTQ people. This didn’t always exist!

Just because your child is LGBTQ, it doesn’t mean they’re doomed to a sub-par life. A life of meaning, family, success, and thriving is now within reach.

Join us at the Side B Retreat!

We are delighted to be hosting the Side B mini-retreat at the first QCF Summer Retreat! We’ve been working together with the QCF leadership over the past year, helping the QCF community stay open to folks who hold to the more traditional or historic Christian sexual ethics. We loved meeting so many of you at the Conference in January, but didn’t get nearly enough time to just hang out and chat, let alone have the deep discussions we really love. We’re thrilled to have this extra opportunity to do just that.

We’ll have two and a half hours set aside on one day of the retreat to spend just with the Side B members of the QCF family. We welcome both those who are firmly committed to the traditional sexual ethic, those who are still exploring, those who are uncertain, those who have been around the QCF community for years, as well as those who are relative newcomers. We welcome LGBTQ+ folks of all stripes as well as straight and/or cis parents, spouses, pastors and other allies who hold our common ethical stance.

What is that ethical stance, specifically? We believe that genital sexual activity should be reserved for male-female marriage, according to our views of the Scriptures, to our traditions, and to our understanding of church history. While we realize that none of these three sources are unproblematic or indisputable, either our current understanding of Scripture, or our commitment to our tradition or faith community, or both, call us to believe in and practice celibacy for the unmarried, and marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. We recognize that Christians of good will and serious views of Scripture can differ with this position, and we respect the journeys of others.

That said, there are a wide variety of beliefs on other issues within the Side B community. Depending on our faith communities and Scriptural interpretations, we have varied convictions on issues such as divorce and remarriage, mixed-orientation marriages, celibate partnerships, medical transitioning for trans folk, gender roles in the family and the church, and even many other disputable matters not related to sexuality and gender, such as the nature of the Lord’s Supper/Communion/the Eucharist. So, when we come together, we try to come with open hearts and listening spirits, to learn from and love one another across differences.

What can you expect when you come to the retreat-within-a-retreat? We’ll probably be a fairly small group, so a lot of our time will be informal. There will be time for newcomers to ask basic questions about Side B, and for long-timers to dive deep into ongoing discussions. We’ll probably do some creative brainstorming and play with art, especially around finding better language than “Side B” to describe our commitments. We’ll have time to meet, greet and eat with new and old friends. We may even sneak out to the beach for a bit, weather and time permitting. Most of all, we’re going to enjoy one another’s company, knowing that we are family in Christ, and that we share common convictions and commitments. We look forward to spending this time with you!

Q Chats | Moving Beyond Shame | Week 3

Q Christian is a community comprised of people with diverse backgrounds, differing theological beliefs, and a variety of ethics. Q Chats are designed to be a deep dive into self-discovery by learning from one another, and spiritually growing side-by-side. Q Chats cannot be effective without you! We invite you to participate. Share your thoughts, stories, and perspectives. Your influential voice can make a difference in the lives of others.

Want to learn more about the people behind the perspectives? Read more.

Join us at the Q+ Families Retreat!

“See, I told you I have two daddies!!” The panic set in a few years ago after hearing my then 4-year old daughter exclaim this to her preschool classmate. It was a rare day where my partner and I both went to pick her up at the end of the day. I didn’t know what would happen next. Was she already fielding questions from her friends, as a preschooler, about my sexuality? I wasn’t quite ready for this. And even less sure about how to handle it.

My anxiety subsided as her classmate responded a few seconds later, “So what, I have one hundred mommies!” This wasn’t a deep conversation about sexuality, this was two young kids competing with each other - they wanted to be more unique, not less, what a refreshing thought.  

It was strikingly clear - my daughter lived in a different world than I did, forcing me to reassess what I was projecting onto her classmates (and what they were hearing from their parents) in this lily-white suburban setting easy to associate with intolerant evangelicalism. However true that assessment may have been for me, it wasn’t true for her. This gives us cause to celebrate how far the LGBTQ+ movement has come in both our communities and churches but also leaves LGBTQ+ parents of children with unique questions and opportunities for learning. We all build our families in different ways - previous mixed orientation relationships, adoption, IVF, surrogacy and more but, however your family came together, we share the bond of being LGBTQ+ people trying to model a life of faith to kids within a broader context that may not always be at the same place we are in recognizing the full scope of God’s beloved community.

During this session at the Q Christian Summer Retreat, my fellow co-Executive Director Bukola Landis-Aina and I will lead discussion on some of the topics facing our unique part of the Q Christian community in a relaxed and informal setting where we can all learn from each other. Some questions to think about include:

  • How do same-gender parents split-up parenting responsibilities with duties historically tied to gender roles?

  • Based on the situation, when is the right time to address sensitive topics like divorce, adoption, coming out, bio donors, etc.

  • What do we teach our children about gender roles and sexual ethics appropriate to different age levels?

  • Are there good questions to ask in finding a church community that will fully celebrate my family?

  • How do you navigate situations where parents share significantly different theological beliefs?

As part of the Q Christian executive leadership team, Bukola and I also hope to illicit your feedback and advice about how Q Christian can best resource and support this growing demographic within our community - one we both are proudly part of!

Most importantly, we hope you’ll leave the inaugural Q Christian Summer Retreat with the knowledge that you aren’t alone in this unique journey - one full of laughter, tears, joys and frustrations - emotions we can face together, in love, as a community of God.

Top