Resources for Religious LGBTQIA

An advocate in more ways than one

The following was put together by a colleague of mine John R. Edwards, L.C.S.W.

It is very important that all non LGBT therapists and LGBT therapists who are not religious who work with LGBT folks who are struggling with their sexual orientation and religious beliefs understand that this type of work requires being more than just accepting. This type of conflict is a CORE conflict especially for individuals who are from the more conservative Christian religions such Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists as well as other conservative religions i.e. conservative Muslims and orthodox Jews. From a Christian standpoint the question revolves around do I give up my beliefs and burn in hell because of who I am or do I try to be the person that my life experience messaging has indicated I ought to be a heterosexual person. A pretty similar question for Muslims and others from conservative religions.

Here is some information and suggestions:

1) All religions are not “created” equal. While it may be tempting to offer suggestions like going to an affirming church keep in the mind the following: While an Episcopalian may be able to move to a Lutheran church. This transition/task would be extremely difficult for a Jehovah Witness or Mormon or Seventh Day Adventist to do. It is not just religion it is culture and a way of life. Not to mention the teachings/doctrines can be vastly different. For example Seventh Day Adventists go to church on Saturdays so to suggest a Sunday church will demonstrate a lack of understanding. Also many conservative religions prohibit the use of alcohol so one must be careful in suggestions for coming out activities where there is alcohol involved (a cultural/religious piece). The client may become accepting of their sexual orientation but may struggle socially due to religious upbringing.

2) Many LGBT folks from conservative religions run the very real risk of losing their family, friends and even their jobs. For example, one can be born of Adventist parents in an Adventist hospital, go to Adventist pre-school, grade school, high school, college, and medical school in essence spending your entire life in the Seventh Day Adventist world. Now imagine having to reconcile all of this with being gay which is not support by the main Seventh Day Adventist church.

3) There are support organizations for LGBT folks of many religious faiths. However, these organizations are almost always NOT sanctioned by the main religious body. These organization offers individuals a chance to be with their “own” and provide lots of information on what we call “clobber texts” etc.

LGBTQIA Religious Support Organizations – these organizations are not sanctioned by the official denominations but were started by LGBTQIA individuals from the various religions:
Baptists Rainbowbaptists
Catholics Dignity
Evangelicals Evangelicals Concern
Lutherans ReconcilingWorks
Mormons Affirmation
Muslims Provides additional resources for Muslims. (I don’t know much about Muslims in this context)
Seventh Day Adventist SDA Kinship
A Common Bond – Jehovah Witnesses

Institute for Welcoming Resources:
The Family Accept Project at San Francisco State University works to foster and maintain relationships in conservative religious families when a young child usually a teenager comes out. Research has demonstrated that these teens usually have much better outcomes when they stay connected to their families. It offers guidance and support to families who don’t understand “how” their child can be LGBT and still maintain their religious faith.

For the Bible Tells Me So features 5 conservative Christian families with a gay family member.
Doing Time on Maple Drive (Netflix) features an ensemble cast including a young Jim Carrey. There is one scene when the gay character is found out by his fiancée. This scene in my opinion is the best scene that I have ever seen that captures what it is like to be gay and not wanting to be found out.

My personal recommendations on additional movies that can help ease and normalize the LGBT experience. Some fun some more serious. These are older movies but of course lots of choices on Netflix, AmazonPrime and web series.

The Wedding Banquet (Gay/Interracial)
A Beautiful Thing (Gay)
Latter Days (Mormon experience)
Ma Vie En Rose (Transgender)
Go Fish (Lesbian)
But I’m a Cheerleader (Lesbian)
Mambo Italiano (Gay)
My Beautiful Laundrette (Gay)
Pariah (Lesbian/Black) haven’t seen it yet.
Prayers for Bobby
Noah’s Arc – 2 season gay TV series featuring all Black and Latino cast.