Queer Christianity: Finding Acceptance in a Conservative America

I am an American. I am a lifelong, believing Christian. And this September, I came out as pansexual.

The three of these identifiers do not often mix well, and I find myself often facing crossroads—do I stay in the closet around my Christian friends? Do I hide my religious identity around my queer friends?

More often than not, I just stay quiet—which is pretty sad, truth be told. But, in the current political climate of America, who wants to out themselves?

When I finally came to terms with my sexuality, I was at “the world’s largest Christian university” in Virginia. I was surrounded by southern, conservative peers who would sneer that the “homosexuals” are going to hell.

That’s when the panic set in. How do you justify your sexuality with your religion, if everyone says your religion hates queer people? I knew I was still a Christian, and I could never stop believing in God and Jesus, but I felt lost.

“If God hates queer people”, I wondered, “why would He make me like this? God doesn’t make mistakes, does He?”

This fear and confusion is, unfortunately, not unique to my experience. Alex Burchnell, who runs the Twitter @AlexChrisQCFV (Queer Christian Family Values) with his husband, Chris, in the American south, has experienced similar feelings in his Christian walk.

“I never questioned my identity in Christ until I came out in my first year of college,” Alex said. “I saw how the church turned on those in the LGBTQ community and started questioning if I would believe in a God who would allow this.”

Like Alex, I was also angry and confused. I had a hard time separating the behaviour of Christians from the God they worshipped.

“It wasn’t until I met other Christians who showed me that there were people who weren’t bigoted and still believed strongly in Christ,” Alex said. “I started reading more about the life of Jesus and learning for myself rather than relying on what others told me.”

This was an important step in my own reconciliation of sexuality—inputting Bible verses into different translations, crying on the shoulders of my Christian friends who embraced me wholeheartedly, and remembering what it was about God that made me love Him in the first place.

When I came out to friends, I had a mostly positive reaction (after all, I chose good friends) but my family found themselves angry and hurt. When the reactions aren’t as positive as a queer Christian would hope for, Chris has advice for them.

“It doesn’t matter what you do or who you are attracted to, God is love, and His love is infinite,”  said Chris. “Even if you have to hide it for a while, there is no reason you can’t be a queer Christian. There are others out there, so you’re not alone. God isn’t the issue, it’s the people who claim to follow Him. God is acceptance. People are conditional.”

Ultimately, your religion can go hand-in-hand with your sexuality. There is no way to “pray away” your feelings (trust me, most of us have tried). No amount of hellfire-and-brimstone sermons will spook your queerness out of your soul.

God loves us. We are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

If you’re a queer Christian looking for support, I recommend the #FaithfullyLGBT tag on Twitter to link up with queer theologians, pastors and believers who can share their advice.

California Wildfires Continue to Displace Families Amidst Aftermath

This November, California witnessed their biggest fire season in recent years. Over the course of three weeks, the golden state fought against three major fires that tore through the northern and southern regions.

The horrifying three weeks started on Thursday 8 November, in Northern California with the “Camp Fire”. It is considered the deadliest fire in United States’ history – with the death toll currently at 88 people.

The prolific fire started in Butte County and then made its way to the town of Paradise.

Paradise has suffered the most destruction, with a majority of it being consumed by the blaze. Over 153,336 acres were demolished.

Down in southern California, the Woolsey Fire and Hill Fire also ignited on 8 November. Collectively, the fires burned through 250,285 acres of land and have caused three deaths.

Brandon Rista of Newbury Park, California, discussed the life-threatening experience he endured during the height of the Woolsey and Hill Fire.

“My family was evacuated for a night at an evacuation centre because all of the hotels in town were booked,” Rista said. “All of the freeways were blocked off, so it felt like we were trapped in our town for the night. My neighbourhood ended up being fine in the end, but there were people I knew who weren’t so lucky.”

The fires have destroyed more 20,297 buildings including residences, commercial buildings and structures.

Many citizens of Paradise, Malibu, Thousand Oaks and surrounding areas are homeless, including some of Hollywood’s most beloved household names. Miley Cyrus, Gerald Butler, and Robin Thicke are just a few of the many to have lost their homes to the out-of-control carnage.

Currently, the fires are 100% contained, but the aftermath has left an undeniable mark throughout the golden state.

Hazardous waste clean-up will be starting within these upcoming days, with Paradise, California seeing treatment first.

Along with a state-wide clean up, over 1,000 breweries across the U.S., including Sierra Nevada Brewing, have come together to brew and sell a special beer named “Resilience Butte County Proud IPA” in efforts to raise funds to assist in helping the “Camp Fire” victims and cities.