by Matthew Taylor
My entire existence is a tightrope balancing act between two facets of myself, that are constantly told they cannot exist together. Yet these facets can not be divided from me nor from one another. I am queer. I’m a person of faith. I am a trans and bisexual Christian.
As Lent rolls in, I often find myself having to reflect upon these two identities. I take this time of the year to re-orientate myself back to my spiritual core. It is a beautiful process that reminds me of my humanity and the love I receive everyday from my Creator, but it is a side that I often feel compelled to hide, just as I am often compelled to hide my queer side from the greater Christian community.
It is a fine line. I’m constantly aware of my fellow queer peers’ religious trauma, something I’d never want to make them relive. It hurts, though, to know that my faith comes with so many automatic assumptions of my character.
Some have ideas that I’m conservative in my politics or that I don’t affirm my own queer identity. I am neither of those, and neither are many other queer people of faith. So, I stay silent. Yet in this very silence I only continue to feed into the false narrative that all religious persons or persons of faith are non-affirming of queer identities, bigoted, or close minded.
Growing up, I was extremely lucky to live in both a queer affirming and religious household. I was raised predominantly in a Christian denomination that had already begun to take the steps towards full LGBT+ inclusion by the time I was born.
It is a huge privilege, one I constantly try to stay aware of. I also believe it is a statement of hope. I am living proof that one can grow up as Christian, as a religious person, and still fully affirm their own queer existence. It is because of this very truth that I continue to live knowing these two identities are not mutually exclusive.
I don’t wish to proselytize or to convert any person to my own faith, nor to any religion in general. There is truth, validity and importance to be found in both agnosticism and atheism. All I wish is to break the narrative that all people of faith are non-affirming.
This perception erases the amazing work that queer people of faith all around the world are doing to create rightful places for us in these sacred spaces. More frightfully, it gives more power to those of faith who may wish to silence us, oppress us or destroy us both within these religious spaces and out of them.
I want to extend my love and validation to any fellow LGBT+ people out there who also desire to stay in or are currently part of any certain religion, whether you be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or belong to any other faith. There are people out there just like you, and there are resources out there that can allow you to flourish fully and wholly as you are.
This Lent, as many like me take this moment to pause and self-reflect on ourselves, I hope to show through my actions and pure existence that religion and spiritual expression are as much a right to LGBT+ people as they are to others.