Leaving home and living on your own for the first time can be challenging. This event can be even more complicated if you are someone who identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or those who are just beginning to explore who they are in terms of their sexuality or gender identity. For some LGBTQ young people, being on their own might symbolize stepping into the freedom to finally explore and claim who they are. For others, it might mean leaving a place of safety and acceptance to enter new environment of unknown and unpredictable variables.
I want to just speak about one area where LGBTQ people, regardless of age, often find their lives conflicted and complicated…faith. Along with figuring out who you are as a person, college can be an opportunity to explore, adhere to, question, alter, or discard previous beliefs or find new ways of believing and being in the world. Just as in our relationships with our families, many LGBTQ people have been hurt by faith communities. Others have experienced an open and embracing community of faith. Additionally, many of our supportive straight allies don’t want to be part of a faith community that is alienating to us.
If you do desire to belong to a faith community or you wish to explore and learn more about a different faith tradition than you have previously known about or been a part of, that conjures up a whole other minefield of questions. Where should you go? Where is safe? That brings us to the heart of what I truly want to provide you in this blog post. Below are a list of resources and congregations that you can use in finding a way of believing or worshipping that is right for you. I encourage you to use your time in college to truly allow yourself to explore who you are in all aspects, including spiritually!
Christian Resources: www.gaychristian.net
United Methodist Resources: King Avenue United Methodist – www.kingave.org; Summit on 16th United Methodist – www.summitmuc.org; Broad Street United Methodist – www.broadstreetumc.net. The term for United Methodist Churches that are affirming of LGBTQ persons is “Reconciling”. You can find more churches inside and outside of Columbus at www.rmnetwork.org
United Church of Christ Resources: St. John’s United Church of Christ – www.stjohnschurchcolumbus.org. The term for LGBTQ safe United Church of Christ churches is “Open and Affirming.” Find more safe congregations at www.openandaffirming.org
Mormon Resources: www.affirmation.org
Muslim Resources: www.mpvusa.org
Unitarian Universalist Resources: www.uua.org/directory/staff/multiculturalgrowth/lgbtq-ministries; First Unitarian Universalist Church – firstuucolumbus.org
Mennonite Resources: Columbus Mennonite – www.columbusmennonite.org
Source: Flickr/B Tal
Josh Culbertson is a student at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio where he is currently pursuing a Masters of Arts in Counseling Ministries. He is a member of Broad Street United Methodist Church in downtown Columbus, and he is the chair of their Reconciling committee. He has also worked in the arena of inter-faith organizing with Equality Ohio to bring voices of faith to discussions around LGBTQ rights and protections. You can read more about his struggles of coming to terms with being both a gay man and a person of faith at www.authenticculbs.com