Groundbreaking LGBT Christian Journal Now Available Online

by David Lohman

The year was 1985. I had graduated college the year before and had just started to come out as a gay man. The son of a Lutheran pastor, the church had made up a big part of my world. However, because of the growing awareness of my own sexual orientation, those years growing up were filled with shame, fear, and isolation.

When I started taking those first tentative steps out of the closet, my world was to be changed in ways both glorious and painful.

The Lutheran church at the time was in a decades-long cycle of commissioning multi-year studies on homosexuality (the language of the day) but never taking any kind of action. It was so painful to be an object of “study” by the denomination in which I’d grown up, and that I loved.

The mere fact that others were debating my worthiness to be in the church at all offended me to the core. So 1985 was the year that I left the Lutheran Church.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, 1985 was also the year that the award-winning magazine Open Hands first started a publication. At the time, there was nothing else like it. The quarterly journal featured the reflections of major theologians, activists, and movement thinkers on the intersections of Christianity and LGBTQ issues. This was the place to go to for cutting edge queer theology.

And today, twelve years after it ceased publication, that wealth of writings is accessible once again.

We in the Faith department at the National LGBTQ Task Force, in collaboration with the LGBT Religious Archives Network, have released a new online exhibit displaying each and every issue of Open Hands magazine. Through them, you can trace the unfolding of much of the ideological and strategic thought that propelled and undergirded the welcoming church movement.

The Open Hands exhibit can be viewed online. Each issue is viewable, downloadable, and text-searchable.

Started by activists within the United Methodist church, the magazine eventually became an ecumenical endeavor of the Welcoming Church Programs—organizations within mainline Protestant Christianity working for pro-LGBTQ change within their respective denominations. Those Welcoming Church Programs went on to create the Institute for Welcoming Resources (IWR). I was one of two when IWR hired its very first staff in 2005. And in 2006, IWR merged with the Task Force.

As they say, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

Those early leaders of the Welcoming Church Programs, the writers, thinkers, and activists all played major roles in shaping the welcoming movement that we have inherited. Those brave pioneers did so much, moving us ever closer to the day when a kid growing up in the church, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, can be free of the pain that I experienced. Amen! May it be so!

Comments (2)


Oh, brave new world! Come
Oh, brave new world! Come quickly!
Bless you for this work. May it guide us all to greater light and love in Christ.

Ginny Cummings

I hope you have found your
I hope you have found your way back to a mainstream church. Lutheranism has come a long way. My pastor, rostered in the NY ELCA, is a gay man and our church is one of the most welcoming to EVERYONE I’ve ever experienced.

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