Growing up, much of the Christmas holiday that my family celebrated was centered on religious observances. We had an advent calendar counting down the days until Christmas in our house, my siblings and I would always be cast as an angel or shepherd in the Christmas pageant, and most importantly to my mother was the yearly attendance of the candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church. When I think about growing up with these traditions, I often ask the question what would our experience have been like as a family with non-straight and/or gender-variant parents? How hard would it have been for my parents and for my siblings and I to find a spiritual community to connect to over the holidays?
My guess is that the experience would have been challenging, disheartening and frustrating. I’ve spoken to many LGBTQ individuals and families that feel this every week and I am also mindful of the upcoming holidays where many want to celebrate the religious roots of the holidays but have to navigate which spiritual communities are welcoming to all people. For those who wish to attend religious services for the holidays here are some ways to navigate finding a place that is safe and affirming of you and your family. For faith communities and leaders that are reading this article: it is imperative that you consider these when readying your place of worship for new people over the holidays. If we do not know we are welcome, we will not come.
Explicit and Specific Welcome
Don’t you just hate it when you are trying to find the expiration date or the directions on a product and you simply can’t locate it anywhere on the bottle? How do you know it is safe for consumption if it is not clear? Faith communities have to recognize that in order to be considered a safe place for LGBTQ members – there has to be an explicit and specific welcome. Find and consider faith communities that explicitly and prominently say they welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and
Tested and Cleared
There are many national religious organizations that are working towards LGBTQ inclusion within their specific religious spectrum. These religious organizations often have a list of the houses of worship that meet with their approval. These organizations have often asked that these communities go through conversations, processes and trainings in order to continually become a place that is welcoming to LGBTQ folk. Below are resources that make it easy in finding a place of
worship that suits you.
Participation and Representation
Check out the website of the community where you are interested in attending services and if you see a diverse group of people represented on their website that’s a great start! Additionally, check out their Facebook page and touch base with any “mutual friends” that may pop up; you can talk with them about the true nature of the welcome of the religious community you are interested in. Recently many Chicago religious communities marched in the front of the PRIDE parade; those who are proud to be aligned with the lives of LGBTQ folk are also safe choices.
Whether you plan to attend one of the many area religious observances for the holiday season, spend it connecting with loved ones, or doing something that brings hope to your life in other ways, I hope your holiday season is meaningful and full of
For a list of 10 friendly places to worship, check out Val’s post!
About the BC
BC is a Texan transplant to the city of Chicago, moving here to attend theology school. She has a great love for a good glass of wine, great books, meaningful conversations, her family, dance parties, and crime shows. Her great hope in this life is that LGBTQ stories will be equally heard and valued, and she believes that religious/spiritual experience and dialogue is one of many ways to work towards such a reality. BC is a pastor by trade but a mystical religious mutt in spirit, hoping to soak up as many understandings of hope each person has to offer.