Alex Blaze

Monday morning question of the day

Filed By Alex Blaze | June 09, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: LGBT, religion

I asked this question some time ago and we had quite a conversation. With so many new people on the site this past year, it seems like we should go for it again:

Has being queer affected your religion or your relationship with it?

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Yes, I loved it. I loved the ritual, I loved what it all meant to me and how it made me feel.

Then I discovered it was a very large part of what made me feel that I was worthless and unlovable. Being Catholic had taught me that I wasn't worthy of an open loving relationship and that the only way I would ever be acceptable is if I acknowledged this and skulked around as though who I am was something to be ashamed of.

I chose instead to live openly and proudly as a member of the human race who is worth something and has value in the eyes of whatever spiritual being I choose to believe exists.

As for being able to love. Well, maybe some of us hide because we want someone who thinks we're worth looking for.

My atheism and my queerness are directly linked. I've always been skeptical, but along about my tween years when it really started to hit home that I'm trans, it made the whole god idea just make no sense to me at all. I briefly flirted with getting back into church in my early 20s, mostly because I liked the idea of community, but it happened to coincide with my finally coming out to a couple of old friends, and when one of them decided that his interpretation of the Bible was more important than a 15-year friendship, that tore it. Other people obviously see it differently, but I just don't see how religion does more good than harm on balance.

Has being queer affected your religion or your relationship with it?

No, I chose to be an atheist.

Pardon my sarcasm, I live in rural Texas, Christianity is as assumed as heterosexuality.

Moreso than my queerness, my parents queerness has affected my relationship with religion. Growing up with a queer family identity (long before I knew I was queer) I encountered religious anti-gay activists who wanted to take apart my family. I was terrified of them. They were angry, hostile, and wanted to take me away from my parents. That left such a strong mark that even the friendly religious people I met couldn't overcome the concept cemented in my brain that religious people meant to do me harm.

It took years of active effort to deal with my religion-phobia. For some time, my heart would quicken at the mention of god and I would be preparing for someone to attack me. Lots of very cool religious friends helped me process that for a few years. Now I'm an agnostic pagan, a bit of a pantheist, and have a community of religious folks that exude loving and caring.

Definitely. I grew up in the Mormon Church. I left the church when I was 19 and I haven't looked back. I've never been formally ex-communicated out of respect for my mother. But I consider myself to be a Wiccan and I would never align myself with another organized religion. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with organized religion. There are certainly very progressive churches out there - like the Unitarians, the Quakers, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopals, etc. It just doesn't feel right for me. I fell most connected to the divine when I am out in nature, not when I'm sitting in a pew in some building listening to a sermon.

I think my experience growing up in a progressive mainline protestant church definitely helped me to have a framework to interpret my experience of growing up gay in a fairly hostile environment. It gave me a sense of historical rooting in a tradition oriented towards social justice, that operated on many fronts: economic, racial, gender and sexuality. So whatever struggle I was going through seemed less difficult because I knew it was part of a bigger fight for justice.

I think as well that my Christian faith also warded off nihilism and cynicism, by convincing me that the world CAN change, and gave me a deep sense of self-respect, as well as high standards for myself--we're made in God's image, after all.

beergoggles | June 9, 2008 7:44 PM

Even before queerness, I had parents who were kicked out of their churches for marrying each other due to the racial boundaries at the time. So I had a suspicion of religion from the get go. Then again, I also have issues with familial relationships (along the lines of families are what I make for myself, not what I'm born with) because their families dis-inherited them as well. My dad forgave his mother after his dad died and patched things up with that side of the family. My mother never forgave her parents and refused to even let her mom into the house when she came by after separating from her husband, told her never to come by again and effectively kept her parents away from all of my siblings.

Once I began living on my own, I never really found a place for religion in my life. I'm reluctant to 'officially' accept the atheist definition because I don't really care enough whether god(s) exist or not in order to form an opinion on the subject and queerness had nothing to do with it. I will pick atheist when it suits me though, just to prod fundies to greater heights of stupidity when someone challenges their god to smite them to prove his existence.

Evangelical turned queer

You figure it out, but I'll suggest there was a change.