Positive visions of queerness in spirituality
Positive spiritual and religious communities have great benefits to the individuals that participate in them, including greater life longevity, better health outcomes, coping skills and weaker chance of developing a mental illness1. The historically systemic exclusion of LGBTIQ+ people is, for a lack of better words, sad. In a world content with equating sexual preference and gender identity as “sinful” and “immoral”, more advocacy has to be done to end the stigma.
Thankfully, some religions not only discourage homophobia, they preach acceptance and welcoming, beyond being complacently tolerant. If you are someone who has a spiritual need to nurture, here are some examples of generally welcoming religious communities (list non-exhaustive!).
While individual local communities of various religions may have positive views on queer members joining, this article is focusing on religions in which homosexuality is broadly accepted.
Reform Judaism is a Jewish denomination with a philosophy to promote acceptance and progressive values, in lieu of strict traditions. There are various branches of this denomination that vary by region, but the global perspective remains: embracing liberal values, such as diversity and acceptance, as part of the Jewish faith.
Their thoughts on homosexuality has been clearly stated since the 1970s: calling for legal protection of LGBTIQ+ individuals in regards to housing, employment and opportunity. Later, Reform Judaism rabbis have passed several resolutions in regards to marriage equality, explicit acceptance of bisexuality and later, transgender people, as well as supporting equal rights for transgender and gender non-confirming people (including trans people becoming rabbis!).
United Church of Christ
The United Church of Christ is a Protestant Christian denomination that values togetherness, for example, by encouraging interfaith dialogues. This extends to views on equality for LGBTIQ+ members. The general philosophy has historically favored queer people, voicing their support for their civil rights and non-discrimination back in 1969. Since then, other resolutions have passed like encouraging members to learn and accept the reality of LGBTIQ+ experiences, support same-sex marriage, and ordaining all genders, regardless of sexual orientation.
However, an important note: despite their overall vow to inclusion of all people, the UCC does not function as a set hierarchy. Local churches of the UCC are encouraged to be autonomous and to create, each, their own community. Therefore, there may be variability on commitment to LGBTIQ+ inclusion. Generally speaking, their activist actions have reflected largely on the side of acceptance.
The liberal religion of Unitarian Universalism, although rooted in Protest Christianity, has evolved to simply value spiritual growth, truth and meaning. Their beliefs are inspired from many other religions, though they do not have a central faith doctrine. The plurality of beliefs is welcomed, and more so reunites people based on encouraging people’s individual spiritual journey, while offering a sense of community in the process.
Once again, the UU have been activists for LGBTIQ+ rights and non-discrimination since the 1970s, and have remained committed to the inclusion of queer members. Their stance is more affirmed than simply supporting queer members: they proclaim that the diversity of human experiences, LGBTIQ+ ones included, are “a spiritual gift”. This thorough acceptance extends into ordination, which is available to everyone, regardless of sexuality or gender. In fact, the first ordained woman to the UU dates back to 1863!
Derived from elements of African spirituality and Catholicism, Camdomblé is a religion with a belief system heavily reliant on spirits and deities, primarily present in Latin America. As opposed to the previously cited religions which valued philosophies and concepts, Candomblé is more ritual-based, as the performance of those practices impact their beliefs.
While the roles within the religious practices are still pretty gendered, men and women can reach significant positions in the faith. In terms of homosexuality, Candomblé has been described as particularly welcoming to the gay community. Although not as explicit in its support for homosexuality, same-sex attraction is not vilified; gay members have reported that it remains a more accepting environnement than mainstream religions.
If any of these suggested sounded interested, we encourage you to learn more about the religious practices to assess if it would suit your needs. Nothing prevents you from following the steps of the Radical Faeries and creating your own community either!
1Mueller, P. S., Plevak, D. J., & Rummans, T. A. (2001, December). Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: implications for clinical practice. In Mayo clinic proceedings (Vol. 76, No. 12, pp. 1225-1235). Elsevier.
Illustration by Jam Dong