Needs of GLBT people from faith/religious backgrounds.

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Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 9, 2009, 00:40

At our monthly Sydney chapter meeting we discussed these questions. Here is what people thought….what do you think?

Freedom 2 B(e) Notes

3rd July, 2009

Are the needs of GLBT people of faith from church backgrounds different from those who are not?

The common needs are:

• self-acceptance

• acceptance by family

• acceptance in community

• a peer group to share their journey with

• finding relationships

• taking an ethical journey, developing a personal “code of conduct” or sense of morality

• overcoming discrimination/stigma

• coming out

• safe sex education

The specific needs of GLBT people from church backgrounds are:

• the need for a ‘transitional space’ where GLBT Christians can safely begin to be themselves, in terms of their sexuality and their faith, without fear of either ‘being cruised’ or of being condemned to hell

• the need for like-minded people to know and to talk to

• support for parents and family members

• counselling services that respect both their sexuality and their faith

• resources to assist in the process of reconciling faith and practice with sexuality

• education around making choices about sexual activity, including safe-sex. This education may be remedial in nature, because often they have been taught that safe-sex is either abstinence or within heterosexual marriage

• non-judgmental safe space within the church

• skills for effectively and respectfully communicating their stories with church leaders

• support in “coming out” as a Christian

• finding congregations that welcome GLBT persons

• finding GLBT affirming congregations

• GLBT-friendly discipleship

• an advocate, someone who will speak for GLBT people within the church

• an advocate, someone who will speak for people of faith within the GLBT community

If a program for GLBT people of faith was being designed what advice would you give?

• workers must commit to showing respect for the religious beliefs of each individual, and to listen carefully to each individual’s story

• identify stakeholders and consult widely

• have a database of services to refer to – eg. where to go for spiritual counselling

• have objective resources available from different faiths, eg. about what the Bible teaches on relevant issues

• have an integrated approach

• outreach programs – creating broader awareness that GLBT people of faith exist and have specific needs

• read biographies of people of GLBT people of faith

• “go the distance” … be prepared to walk with GLBT people of faith on their difficult journeys

• develop a peer mentoring programme

• have an attitude of openness and understanding

Joined in 2006
July 10, 2009, 09:04

I dont think they are in essence, the one aspect of acceptance we are still trying to achieve is with the churches so we would differ there…… either I cant think right now or cant think of anything else.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 10, 2009, 21:48

the main purpose of the discussion was to identify the specific needs of GLBT people from faith/religious backgrounds. How do we differ? What do we need to make the rest of the GLBT community aware of. If you are gay or lesbian and have an addiction to peanuts…there will be a support group for you……so what should there be for us

Joined in 2006
July 11, 2009, 08:06

ok I get it now, sometimes I wonder where my brain lodged for the day 😯

I do feel we need a group run by a counsellor/s to help people who have suffered church abuse and such regarding their sexuality with the availability of one on one counselling and the counsellors having church backgrounds would help because they could understand where we’re coming from and the topics could be quite broad also. Its a big step but getting help like that makes such a difference, it just goes that little deeper and helps you deal with the shame issues associated with that. There might already be something but I dunno. Its good to have a place where you can process things out loud openly and get perspective in how youre feeling and deal with one layer at a time, since there could be soooo many aspects to ones confusion and shame, you just dont know where to start and this gives some focus at least. It would be more than a discussion group and you stay on a vein for a few weeks with take home reading and such.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 13, 2009, 14:54

thanks Mags for your insights.

Joined in 2007
July 13, 2009, 16:56

Here’s my two cents:

I think there needs to be a more significant reciognition that we do, in fact, differ. Esepically as the generations seeking help have lived on the precipse of having the “gay Christian” label accepted. I can’t count the number of testimonies I have read of heartbreaking rejection and outright homophobia by family and chruches alike. Of course these stories resonate with a lot of people, perhaps even the majority but for many it’s not even close to their personal story. You get an anomoly evey once in a while—like me–where someone has dug their own grave on the issue (so to speak) or comes from a pro-gay, anti-Christian family. It’s just as hard.

Because there has been such a precedent for homophobia and trauma for those with a religious background many counsellors and writers make assumptions based on this ‘norm’. A holistic approach is needed. What would you say to someone trying to reconcile Christianity with their already accepted sexuality (as opposed to the other way around) would the issue be approched the same or differently? Would these people be comfortable in a group setting? What obstacles and barriers are there?

Joined in 2006
July 13, 2009, 19:02

Good point Sandy……….thats what made me think that a level headed non anti homosexual church counsellor would be great, to deal with every aspect of whats going on, I had it myself and it was soooooooo healing and got me to a place where the anti isnt as big an issue when I face it.

Great two cents girl.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 13, 2009, 19:35

good observation Sandy……I remember when we got the first few testimonials on this site where someone had come to terms with their sexuality and faith relatively easy…..if not that….had at lease sorted it out within a few years as opposed to a life time for many of us.

Joined in 2007
July 13, 2009, 22:37

I remember when we got the first few testimonials on this site where someone had come to terms with their sexuality and faith relatively easy

Yes speaking from a youth perspective (you’re not the only one that can draw the age card AVB 😆 ) the “issues” that have arisen for GLBT people in relation to their faith tend to be different in many cases to those who are older, due in large part to an incresed acceptance of homosexuality in the church and by the world at large. I’m not suggesting that generation X and those before it had it tougher (though in many ways they did) just that the issues have altered.

A big one that I think will emerge is identity. In former years the boundaries between lesbian, gay, butch, femme, transgender, transvestite etc were ridged–or more ridged than they are now. There seems to be a shift towards being “queer” as an all-encompassing label without the need to further define oneself. It might not have a cataclysmic effect on the Chruch or faith struggles but it is a component of the GLBT experience which needs to be addressed by those working with GLBT people whether in a religious sense or otherwise. It’s also HUGE in the sense that you can’t get away with making assumptions that someone is gay or a lesbian or gender-queer or sleeping with men or with women just because they identify as queer. Those working with GLBT people will have to broaden their field kits and their minds as new ways of expressing sexuality and identity ermerge.

Also, incidently, if Kinsey is right, if and when homosexuality is fully accepted in society you’ll probably end up with a hell of a lot of more openly bisexual people–esepically women. Bisexuality has been something the church has to one extent or another convieniently ignored to this point.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
July 14, 2009, 01:45

yep…..I do a presentation on Homosexuality and the Church – Why we got it so wrong. …its on this link

The church for several reasons is often the last to change and adopt things society has come to terms with years before.

The role of women and divorce are two other examples.

Young people in a Christian culture are more likely to have problems with reconciliation of faith and sexuality than their non religious peers don’t you think.

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