6. Don't go it alone!

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

Many Christian parents report feeling utterly alone in their journey of parenting an LGBTQ child.

It’s not unusual for parents to feel like they’re the only ones in their church or social group with an LGBTQ child. Futhermore, most churches don’t offer any support, and many parents don’t feel comfortable talking to their pastor about it.

These forces conspire to make parents feel like they have to withdraw. And many quietly decide to keep their child’s sexuality as a family secret.

Agghh!

This is a terribly unhealthy way to respond to this situation. The healthiest parents I know are the ones who have reached out for connection, resources, and support. For all the Internet’s attending evils, its ability to connect small tribes of people with common life-circumstances is absolutely stunning.

There are millions—literally, millions—of parents out there on a similar journey as you. They also are learning how to love and support their lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer child. Many of them have transitioned from the early days of fear to a new place of peace.

I really can’t encourage you enough to join a loving, listening community of Christian parents of LGBTQ children. Q Christian Fellowship offers incredible support and resources. Harbor, the support program I lead is another great option as well. And there are others! Just find one where you feel like you belong, and get involved. Share your story, be vulnerable, and pray for each other.

Being the parent of an LGBTQ child isn’t a curse. As time goes on, you’ll discover that it is one of life’s greatest blessings. And, if you let it, the journey can be one that God uses to transform you in unimaginably beautiful ways.

Join us at the WeConnect Retreat!

We all have many different aspects of our identities and sometimes these aspects seem to be in conflict with each other. I’m Christian. I’m engaged to a Jewish woman. I am a graduate student studying theology. I’m a lesbian. I identify as a female and genderqueer. I am a lot of different things and reconciling all of the parts of my identity can be a challenge.

Sometimes it is other people who tell us that we have to pick between parts of our identity. Maybe someone told you had to be a Christian or a member of the LGBTQ+ community. You weren’t allowed to be both. Even if someone didn’t say it to your face, maybe it was in the larger culture around you or was the expectation you held for yourself. And this is just one of many examples of how we struggle as people and as part of the LGBTQ+ community to reconcile our identities.

We hear a lot in the Christian world about being reconciled to other people and to God. We hear about mending those relationships with others that have been wounded and about being “right with God”. But, do we ever think about being reconciled with ourselves? We are multifaceted people; we have many parts to our identities. We all have stories and each story has several chapters, with some chapters being drastically different from each other. Yet, all of these stories, all of these chapters, all of these parts of our identities make up who we are. When we don’t appreciate the diversity that is present in each of our individual identities, it can feel like we are at war with ourselves, always having to choose who to be that day because we do not let ourselves be all of the beautiful things that we truly are. We can also feel like we are waging war with ourselves when we completely shut out chapters of our lives. I, for one, have some dark chapters in my story. I would honestly rather ignore those parts of my story and act like they haven’t impacted me. In reality, though, they have impacted me greatly. Part of reconciling my identity is reconciling with my past. It is reclaiming all the parts of my story and figuring out who I am and who I am going to be in light of all of the pages.

In this summer’s WEConnect Retreat, Emily Burke and Shae Washington will facilitate a time for you to explore reconciling your identity. By providing you with a space where you can safely explore the chapters of your story and the facets of your identity, we hope that you can find greater peace within yourself. We hope you can leave the WEConnect retreat feeling proud of the diversity that is present with in you. We hope that you can proudly claim who you are, every single part.

And if you would like to explore more about these ideas of reconciliation and diversity in identity before the retreat, check out this TedTalk.

Q Chats | Moving Beyond Shame | Week 4

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.

May Book Club: "Jambula Tree" by Monica Arac de Nyeko

“You left without saying goodbye after that [night]. You had to, I reasoned. Perhaps it was good for both of us. Maybe things could die down that way. Things never did die down. Our names became forever associated with the forbidden. Shame.”

Anyangu shares with her lost love–Sanyu–that their identities were permanently marked with shame despite that Sanyu was quickly sent away. This is an all too familiar experience of LGBTQ+ people who are shamed by their communities. Join us in reading this timeless short story of two young women who found love for a brief time in the slums of Kampala, Uganda.  “Jambula Tree” is an award-winning short story written by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko and it inspired the 2018 Kenyan movie, Rafiki.

Notably, Rafiki was banned in Kenya "due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law". The film's director, Wanuri Kahiu, sued Kenya's government, to allow the film to be screened and become eligible to be submitted as Kenya's entry for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The Kenyan High Court lifted the ban on the film, allowing it to be screened in the country for seven days in order to meet the eligibility requirements. After the ban was lifted, the film was shown to a sold-out crowd at a cinema in Nairobi. Despite its success over impossible odds, it was ultimately not selected by Kenya to be submitted for consideration by the Academy. Rafiki was just released in the United States.

Pick up your copy on Amazon or at your book store of choice! Look for weekly Facebook discussion threads, forum posts, and invitations to dialogue about this significant work.

Join us at the Clergy Retreat!

The church is engulfed in what seems like endless chaos these days, have you noticed? With every scandal and denominational schism, every mind-numbing Pat Robertson sound bite and every post from PasterSneakers IG account, association with faith, religion and spirituality is under warranted scrutiny. Church leaders are under increased pressure to not just lead their congregations, but embody an obligation of being above reproach in the eyes of a watching world that has shifting expectations. If you’ve been in “professional ministry” any length of time, you’re likely experiencing the present disruption in a variety of ways. Perhaps you’re energized by what feels like an awakening of the burgeoning potential of the Body of Christ. Or maybe you’re more cynical and finding it difficult to find any signs of light at the end of an increasingly dim tunnel. Likely you’ve had moments of questioning your own complicity in what is rapidly being revealed to be a largely toxic system that spans the globe and has permeated every industry on the planet.

Since October 2017 we’ve been interfacing with hundreds of church leaders from around the world, in response to co-founding Church Clarity. It’s been an eye opening 18 months as demands for clarity throughout the church have caused a bit of a stir. The response from pastors and clergy, when it comes to the work we’re championing, has raised some fascinating questions and sparked illuminating discussions about the state of the church, the future of the church and the nature of ministry in general. We’re excited to co-lead a session for clergy at this summer’s retreat hosted by QCF. Together, we’ll explore some of the most urgent issues facing christianity and what Clarity looks like personally, organizationally, and institutionally. We believe that all healthy individuals and organizations must begin from a place of clarity — by looking at oneself in the mirror and being honest about what you see.

We don’t have all the answers in terms of what you can expect, simply because the implications of clarity and its impact on the future of the church is wide open. What we know is that technology is accelerating the exposure of harmful ambiguity throughout the church. Clarity is empowering pastors who are not afraid to express their convictions in ways that were previously unavailable. We want to explore this further by sharing some of what we’ve learned as well as hear directly from those of you who are currently on the frontlines of this ever shifting landscape.

We want to spend the majority of our time together exploring themes of how you as a church leader can utilize the tool of clarity to help shape the future of the church.

Whoever you are and whichever church you are connected to, we hope you’ll join us this Summer in Florida. See you there!

George Mekhail & Sarah Ngu
Co-Founders of Church Clarity

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

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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!

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