Three years ago I was living out of my car. Toothbrush drying in the passenger seat, food stored on the back floor, and all my life’s belongings crammed in the trunk. Having just graduated from college, it seemed like the only thing to do. But I wasn’t parked under a bridge or based out of Walmart parking lots. Instead, I spent 260 days driving around America, searching for the perfect place to live.
One of the attributes I looked for was a city with a strong LGBT Christian community.
Wistfully, in each of the 46 states/provinces I visited, I found it very hard to meet these peers. Most of the churches I visited didn’t have LGBT-congregants my age, and when I interacted with local LGBT communities, they often mocked me for being Christian.
“Why would you want to be part of an organization that hates you?” they’d laugh.
But that’s a misconception. Plenty of churches have “come out” in support of the LGBT community over the past decades. Those churches are one of the reasons I chose to settle in Washington DC. When I passed through on my road trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find my nation’s capital full of these affirming churches.
However, even after moving to DC, it was still difficult to find a community of LGBT Christians.
Fortunately, after a number of months in the District, I stumbled upon a small group of young-adult LGBT Catholics who came together under the local Dignity USA chapter. As I talked with them, I learned how they gathered weekly from their various Catholic parishes, and thought that perhaps the concept could work across Christianity: bringing together the few LGBT young-adults that seemed to be at every affirming DC church.
A few months later, “Queer For Christ” was founded as an ecumenical, young-adult LGBT Christian group. We grew organically, welcoming an Episcopalian here, a Lutheran there–a handful of Baptists and Methodists. Eventually we found ourselves with an online community of more than 250 local members, and an average attendance of over 30 young-adult LGBT Christians at our in-person events.
Presbyterian, Catholic, African Methodist Episcopal, Mormon, Quaker, Evangelical, Non-Denominational; they came in all forms, like animals on Noah’s Ark, Queer For Christ served as a safe haven for them. A place where they could be unapologetically both queer and Christian.
Our name shocked some, but it was important to be clear about who we were.
“Queer” lets everyone on the LGBTQIA-Z spectrum know they are welcome. And “For Christ” invites people no matter where they are on the walk with God. Whether they call themselves Christians or are simply for (pro) Christ.
Now, a year and a half after Queer For Christ’s founding, we find ourselves at an exciting time. As people around America become aware of our organization, they want the same thing for their local community; a vibrant group of young-adult LGBT Christians, equally as comfortable in the pews of a church as the floats of a parade. With Queer For Christ – Philly and Queer For Christ – New York City recently joining Queer For Christ – DC, we are already seeing this movement happen.
Someday, my hope is that every American city will have a Queer For Christ chapter. That no matter what state/province you live in, you can find a community of fellow LGBT believers, and won’t have to feel like you have to choose between embracing your faith or your sexuality.
That way, the next time I drive around America for 260 days, it won’t be so hard to meet LGBT Christians.
For more information about Queer For Christ, especially starting a chapter in your local community, please visit us at QueerForChrist.org.