Faith and religion

New booklet: ‘Christian Role Models for LGBT Equality’

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (Photo courtesy of Stonewall)

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (Photo courtesy of Stonewall)

“I know God listens to me wherever I am and wherever He is. If He didn’t love me or didn’t like my sexuality, I wouldn’t have been created.” So says an East African lesbian, as quoted in a new compilation of stories of Christians, both gay and straight, who are supportive of LGBTI people.

The 48-page booklet, “Christian Role Models for LGBT Equality,” is published by Stonewall, a UK charity supporting LGBT people that was founded in 1989.

“Christian Role Models for LGBT Equality” tells the compelling stories of 20 very different people from around the world, each of whom has found a different view of Christianity from the hostile stance toward LGBT people that is common among conservative Christians.

The publication is being distributed to groups and individuals in the UK and internationally and can be downloaded online.

Ruth Hunt, Stonewall’s chief cxecutive, said:

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall. (Photo courtesy of Total Politics.com)

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall. (Photo courtesy of Total Politics.com)

“We’re releasing this book to show wider society that LGBT people of faith do exist and are part of faith communities.

“Too often it’s assumed we’re not on the same side but the powerful stories featured in this guide demonstrate that a belief in God is also a belief in love and acceptance. This guide shows that international Christian communities have the strength to embrace and reflect a greater theological diversity than often presumed.

“We are so grateful to those who have participated and for the bravery they have shown in speaking out. The volume of hatred and vitriol from extreme religious leaders is very threatening and the dangers involved in participating in a project like this are very real. Those who have been brave enough to stand up to this are exceptional Christian role models because they have risked their personal safety to help others.

“We hope that this guide will help break down the barriers between LGBT people and the church, and build a common ground. We’re looking to a future where people will be accepted for their beliefs, their faith, their sexual orientation, their gender identity and everything else, without exception.”

Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, a pro-LGBT Ugandan Anglican cleric, says in his forward to the booklet: “As Christians, we must learn to accept people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans (LGBT) as children of God. There have always been LGBT people in the Church, and there always will be.”

The anonymity of some of the contributors, though a pity, is hardly surprising. These samples of their words provide a glimpse of into their lives, their faith and the publication in which they appear:

Mikhail Tumasov (Photo courtesy of TheOutmost.com)

Mikhail Tumasov (Photo courtesy of TheOutmost.com)

God is against sin. That’s all. And I see no correlation between sin and being LGBT.
~ Mikhail Tumasov, Russia

I’ve been told: “Your view is not Biblical”, but I think it’s deeply Biblical.
~ Nicholas Holtam, Anglican Bishop of Salisbury, England

Being attracted to people of the same gender is just who I am. It cannot be the will of God that I should have to force myself into a straight relationship.
~ Caribbean gay man

Sister Simone Campbell (Photo courtesy of UUA.org)

Sister Simone Campbell (Photo courtesy of UUA.org)

When folk hate or reject LGBT people, it affects the person who is doing the hating.
~ Sister Simone Campbell, an American Catholic nun

Please tell me if I’m reading the wrong Bible, because the Bible you’re reading is totally different from the one I’m reading..
~ Pacific Island transgender woman

If the Church became more accepting of LGBT people, it would change our world because it has great power in many countries, communities and houses.
~ Polish lesbian

In my late 20s I began looking into the theology for myself and came to the unexpected conclusion that the Bible isn’t against faithful gay marriage after all.
~ Rev. Sally Hitchiner, university chaplain, England

I used to think I was evil for being what I am, but now I know that all people, including me, are saved by grace through faith.
~ West African man who has “no sexual orientation”

I realised that by transitioning I had come back from exile; from my body, from the Bible, from God.
~ Fr. Shay Kearns, queer and transgendered priest, USA

South American church scene (Photo courtesy of Stonewall)

South American church scene (Photo courtesy of Stonewall)

It’s important that people meet LGBTI people as human beings first and foremost.
~ South American female priest

In the Bible it is written that God is love, and I realised that if God created me and let me come to this world that means He loves me like He loves others.
~ Eastern European gay man

I was 17 when I came out to myself. It happened during a moment of prayer and, in a way, it was actually God who outed me.
~ Stephen Lingwood, Unitarian minister, England

A simple positive statement from religious leaders could make a huge difference to someone like me, who may believe God hates them because of what a few preachers said.
~ East African lesbian granted asylum in the UK

I hope that LGBTQ Christians will show their love to those who hate us, because God’s love can move the hearts of our opponents through our prayers.
~ East Asian gay pastor

What I don’t understand is that urge to condemn people to hell or a place of pain. It amazes me how many Christians do this.
~ Rachel Mann, transgender Anglican priest, England

People think that all churches are the same. It’s difficult to convince them that they aren’t and that there are pastors who understand Christ’s call for everyone to be accepted.
~ South American mother of a gay son

For the churches we are “too gay” and for the gays we are “too churchy”. Acceptance from both religious and LGBTI communities needs to work both ways.
~ Reverend Judith Kotzé, lesbian minister, Dutch Reformed Church, South Africa

It is un-biblical and un-Christian for people to close the door of fellowship against anyone on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
~ East African inclusive church pastor

People ask me how I deal with my faith and my sexual orientation. Personally, it has never been a conflict for me.
~ André Musskopf, Lutheran theology professor, Brazil