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03 / 12 / 21
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For many LGBTQ+ individuals, having queer icons and role models is a common theme. These can range from pop singing divas, to comic book superheroes, to talented sport stars. Some may identify as queer, and others may not, but they all share in common the trait of empowering those who look up to them.
However, as important as these icons are, we believe that is more important than ever to focus on LGBTQ+ role models for those of faith and belief identities. These are people from faith, belief, religious, interfaith and other backgrounds who help to inspire LGBTQ+ people regardless of their identities. Living between the intersections of faith and LGBTQ+ identities can be difficult for many, and that is why highlighting those who inspire us is so important to do.
For Inter Faith Week, the Faith and Belief Forum held an LGBTQ+ Interfaith Social in celebration. This was the 5th year of these events. and one of the many events F&BF have held this year with our LGBT+ Interfaith Network. This event was designed as a safe space for LGBTQ+ people and allies of different faiths, religions, and non-religious beliefs, to celebrate together. We were delighted to partner with London Queer Muslims, House of Rainbow, Sarbat and OneBodyOneFaith to host over 30 LGBTQ+ individuals and allies for this inspiring event.
After introductions from the partners discussing their important work, the evening became an exciting sharing of experiences, fun activities and the creation of new relationships. Discussions included examples of LGBTQ+ affirmative work in local faith communities, the importance of visibly stating pronouns and what faith leaders can do to support LGBTQ+ individuals. Hearing the opinions of people from a wide range of identities made for engaging, thought-provoking and productive discussions, which left us all excited to delve further into these conversations. The evening also offered a place for attendees to relax and have some fun, in a collection of online games.
This event was also an opportunity for attendees to create connections and learn more about each other and different faith, belief and LGBTQ+ experiences to their own. One highlight was the sharing of interesting content that covered LGBTQ+ and interfaith topics. Examples included books such as The Badly Behaved Bible: Thinking again about the story of Scripture by Nick Page, Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex – Understanding Homosexuality, Transgender Identity and Intersex Conditions through Hinduism by Amara Das Wilhelm and Black, Gay, British, Christian, Queer – The Church and the Famine of Grace by Jarel Robinson-Brown. We also heard about podcasts such as When the rainbow appears and articles including We Are One: LGBT Rights and Guru Nanak’s Legacy of Inclusion. By the end of the event, all our reading and listening lists had become a lot more interesting!
The event opened with attendees sharing their LGBTQ+ role models of faith, but this carried long into the evening. Throughout the session, as discussions and games went on, people were sharing more icons and role models they had remembered – highlighting just how important celebrating them is.
Here are just a few of LGBTQ+ role models of faith celebrated by attendees:
Vicky Beeching – British lesbian musician and worship leader in US Evangelical churches.
This diverse array of figures who exist on the intersections of LGBTQ+ and faith identities is in an inspiring thing to see. However, this short list did not include the many personal role model that attendees mentioned, such as friends, family, co-workers and local community leaders. These more personal figures were discussed in abundance during the event, and are arguably the most empowering LGBTQ+ role models of faith. They may not have the same platform, but their work and the connections they make inspiring to all those that they know.
We’d like to thank everyone who attended this session – both our partner organisations and attendees – you have become some of our new favourite LGBTQ+ role models of faith!
We were joined by the talented Irina who created this graphic recording of the events discussions and topics – it perfectly captures the feelings of the evening!
Find about more about the Faith & Belief Forum’s LGBT+Faith work, and sign up for updates on our LGBT+ Network events here