Oftentimes, there is a divide when talking about Christianity and the LGBTQ+ community. The two are not usually talked about together—the media either publicizes the reality of being a Christian or the reality of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. But what about those of us who identify as both Christian and LGBTQ+? Unfortunately, some corners of society (schools, churches, etc.) deem it impossible to identify as both LGBTQ+ and Christian because of their interpretations of the Bible; they will not even begin to consider that LGBTQ+ Christians exist. Thanks to this lack of understanding around LGBTQ+ Christians, any connection between the LGBTQ+ community and Christianity is often erased. Christianity has the potential to shape LGBTQ+ identity because it provides spirituality. But the concept that Christianity cannot shape the experiences of an LGBTQ+ individual is not nearly as impossible as you might think. In fact, Christianity can even provide fortitude and faith to some in the LGBTQ+ community.
I grew up exposed to religious methodology, and more specifically, Christian methodology. My parents engrained the phrase “Chineke oma,” meaning “God is good,” in my mind as a way to connect me to my Christian roots. What they didn’t know was that I believed in God in a way that seemed completely unimaginable to them.
I’m pansexual. Growing up, even just the thought of coming out to my parents seemed surreal to think about. After I’d done it, I was in a state of disbelief. I can still see the gleam of disbelief in my parents’ eyes as they reacted to the revelation. Without them so much as uttering a word, I could hear the question on their lips and consuming their minds.
“How can someone so godly partake in what is deemed a sin?”
While many might think this was where my journey with God ended, it was not. In fact, the pain I felt while struggling with my identity and my parents’ reluctance to accept me was when I felt closest to God.
There’s an explicit division between the LGBTQ+ community and the Christian community. Churches have long failed to recognize the identity of LGBTQ+ people and have historically not tolerated their presence in religious spaces. Therefore, it is understandable that the LGBTQ+ society hasn’t felt particularly drawn to organized religion. Despite this obvious divide, there is still a union between queer identity and religious identity since many LGBTQ+ people are, in actuality, Christians. The reality of spirituality exists; in actuality, many LGBTQ+ individuals use the church to escape from less welcoming spaces.
I’ll always remember the day my parents finally accepted me. As I was riding in the car with my mom, she abruptly turned the radio off, and told me she loved me. To make that moment even more sincere, the song she’d turned off was “God is Good.” In that moment, I felt not only the words coming from my mother, but also from God, telling me I was still loved. I sat there bewildered in the moment, and the last thing I heard my mother say was, “How can I hate my own child?”
There are no rules or regulations when it comes to believing in God. LGBTQ+ individuals can, and should, believe in God in whatever way their faith drives them to, in whatever religion to which they feel drawn. It’s important that LGBTQ+ individuals are able to utilize their religious identity and connect with their spirituality in safe spaces. The LGBTQ+ community has a place in religion—any religion—and its members are not alone in their faith.
Oluchi Chukwuemeka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.