Lately however, I’ve come face to face with some hard decisions to make in the department of religion because of my children. When it comes to life’s mysteries, it can be hard to know what to believe yourself, let alone what to teach your children to believe. As a lesbian mom, I’ve also come face to face with the choices that other people have made for themselves with their own religious beliefs and how they feel about homosexuality. In my journeys through my religious options, I’ve been on the receiving end of harsh judgment and total acceptance; bearing witness to the opposite extremes of emotions that religious people can have towards me once they discover I am a lesbian. Navigating the choices I have had to make about religion as a lesbian mom has been an interesting experience, and I felt like it was important to share what I’ve gone through with you.
My family baptized me as a Catholic when I was a baby. Then they converted when I was about twelve and I was ‘re-born’ as a Christian.
I remember at some point also going to other types of churches, and my mother even trying out her hand as a Jehovah’s Witness. As an adult, I was very confused about my own religious beliefs and whether I believed in God, and I lived a life of questioning what I was raised to believe in even though I didn’t really know what I believed in. I felt like religion was supposed to provide me with some sort of answer to life’s big questions and mysteries, yet all I was filled with was more unanswered questions. At some point I just decided that I didn’t know if I believed in a God or if I didn’t, and that was that.
When I had my first child in 2000, I realized that I would have to come to some sort of decision about what I believed in because now I was also responsible for the life of another human being.
The issue of religion came up right away because my family wanted the baby to be baptized in a church even though I didn’t want to commit to any one religion. I managed to avoid the issue by hiring a non-denominational minister to perform a ‘dedication ceremony’ in an outdoor setting. This was dedicating my son’s life to the “greater good” so I felt that I was satisfying the part of me that wanted some sort of belief in a Higher Power and also the part that didn’t believe. I was still questioning, and managed to keep things that way… for a little while.
I had a tough time after my son was born – I had another baby right before my marriage totally fell apart, and then came out as a lesbian right after.
Having been to the Catholic and Christian Sunday schools and bible studies, it was ingrained in me that divorce was a big no-no and so was being a lesbian. I went through a lot of emotional turmoil, self doubt, self hatred, and questioning of life during that period of time. I am so blessed that I had my two children and Gina during that time because they were really what kept me going through it all. I really had to come to terms with the choices that I had made and reconcile them with the religious beliefs I had been taught. I went in search of answers and I took the time to find them. Now I don’t consider myself to be religious, I say that I am ‘spiritual’, but honestly I still haven’t taken the time to baptize or dedicate my youngest child as of yet. She is going to be 6 in July. Now, I have taken so long to make a choice about what religious beliefs to instill as a lesbian mom, that this child is about ready to tell me what religion to choose herself! *LOL
Our oldest is 7 and the youngest is 5, and I think I’ve avoided the issue of religion as much as I can.
They can both read now, and understand adult conversations. They notice things, and remember stuff, and have questions about everything. Just like me, they want to know. It’s hard to know what to say when a child asks you what happens when we die, or who is Jesus. My son has practiced meditation because he saw it on a cartoon, and knows what a Buddhist monk looks like when he sees one because of a family movie we watched once. Another family movie, called Fluke, is about a dog who remembers a past life as a husband and father. That movie inspired a ton of questions from the kids and made me realize that I really needed to decide what I was going to teach my kids to believe.
If you are a member of the LGBT community (with children or not) this issue is one that is going to come up at one point or another in your life.
Many religions are anti-gay and discourage homosexuality, considering homosexuals to be what Hindu society refers to as pariah or outcasts. There are some Christian denominations and other religions that are accepting of members of the LGBT community. If you are a lesbian, bi-sexual, trans-sexual or gay man, you are really going to have to do your homework if you are looking for an accepting place of worship in your area. You are going to want to determine if you are going to have any problems with discrimination first before you show up. (Read this article about a lesbian couple from the United States who was denied communion at their local parish after they were married in Canada.) Over the past few years Gina and I have had baptisms, weddings, and funerals to attend in different types churches and at a funeral for my father’s aunt, a man who seemed to be the guy in charge literally put his hand up and stopped us asking me “Is that your sister?” I said “No, this is my wife.” This guy had to think for a minute before he stepped aside and said “Okay you can go in.” I couldn’t believe it. One church I attended without Gina asked me if I had a husband and told me that the next time I went I had to take my husband… yikes!!
You can research different religions online before you go, and determine which places of worship that you endorse and which you want to avoid.
When you attend, be wary of the materials they provide such as brochures and prayer books. You’ll also want to listen to the songs that the choir sings and determine if the message being delivered is one that you endorse. We took our children to a Methodist church this past Thursday for a re-enactment of The Last Supper, since Easter is coming up. The kids are old enough to read the words in the song books now and it was sooo cute to see them read and sing about love and kindness! I would have been upset if the kids were ever subjected to the discrimination that Gina and I have. Instead, my heart was beaming with gratefulness to see the kids participate in activities like symbolic washing of the hands of the person sitting next to you, plus the sharing of bread and punch. They had a ton of questions that night for sure!
In any case here is what Wikipedia says about religion and homosexuality:
Though the relationship between homosexuality and religion can vary greatly across time and place, within and between different religions and sects, and regarding different forms of homosexuality and bisexuality, current authoritative bodies and doctrines of the world's largest religions generally view homosexuality negatively. This can range from quietly discouraging homosexual activity, to explicitly forbidding same-sex sexual practices among adherents and actively opposing social acceptance of homosexuality. Some teach that homosexual orientation itself is sinful, while others assert that only the sexual act is a sin. Some claim that homosexuality can be overcome through religious faith and practice. On the other hand, voices exist within each of these religions that view homosexuality more positively, and liberal religious denominations may even bless same-sex marriages. Some view same-sex love and sexuality as sacred, and a mythology of same-sex love can be found around the world.
Here is a list of books from Amazon on the subject of LGBT Religion and Spirituality:
- Reclaiming The Spirit: Gay Men and Lesbians Come to Terms with Religion here
- Coming Out Within: Stages of Spiritual Awakening for Lesbians and Gay Men here
- From Wounded Hearts: Faith Stories Of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, And Transgender People And Those Who Love Them here
- Equal Rites: Lesbian and Gay Worship, Ceremonies, and Celebrations here
- Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation here
- Qu(e)erying Evangelism: Growing a Community From the Outside In here
- Face to Face: Gay And Lesbian Clergy on Holiness And Life Together here
- Are There Closets in Heaven?; A Catholic Father and Lesbian Daughter Share their Story here
- Waiting for the Call: From Preacher's Daughter to Lesbian Mom here
What I have found is that the main religious denominations where you can find total gay acceptance are:
Metropolitan Community Church
Unitarian Universalist Church
United Church of Christ
United Church of Canada
Some congregations of the following denominations are accepting of the LGBT community:
Christian Reformed Church
Church of the Nazarene
Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
The Unification Church
And here are some denominations which do not endorse homosexuality yet do support the human rights of the gay community:
The United Methodist Church
There are also many spiritual centers emerging as places of worship as well with a focus on gay worshippers.
Once you've decided which belief system works for you, I suggest reaching out to others of the same faith for support and fellowship.
Meetup.com is a great place to meet others of the same faith. There are so many religions to choose from in society that I couldn’t possibly cover them all here in this article. I encourage you to do your homework and follow your heart!
Here are some websites where you can find out more about religion for lesbians and others in the LGBT community:
- Article: Lesbian caught between religion and outside world here
- Article: Religion and Homosexuality here
- Article: Lesbian Faith without Fear here
- Faith in America here
- OUT Faith here
- The Gay Religion Blog here
- Gay Church.org here
- A Lesbians Faith.com here
- Interfaith Advocates LGBT here
- Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion here
- Lesbian Life Religion and Spirituality here
- Religion on Gay City USA here
- Gay and Lesbian Mormons here
- GLBT Catholics here
- LGBT Episcopalians here
- Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists here
- LGBT Jewish Organizations here
- Gay and Lesbian Quakers here
- The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association here
- More Light Presbyterians here
- Lutherans Concerned here
The road to religious choices is definitely an interesting one.
I hope that I was able to give you a good jumpstart with the resources I’ve collected above. Finding a place of worship where you feel accepted is the ultimate goal, and I wish you the best on that journey. Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and insights on navigating religion as a lesbian if you can.
I really want to say thank you for reading this post and for those who are celebrating Easter this weekend I am sending Happy Easter wishes your way!
Until next post stay well and be safe.