How do I understand the relationship between queerness and religion?

It’s important to explore both your sexual and gender identity, and your relationship to your faith, but it can be hard to harmonize both.

What is queerness?

Queerness is an umbrella term that represents the community of people on the 2SLGBTQ+ spectrum. 

The queer community is made up of people with different kinds of gender identities and sexual orientations. People in the 2SLGBTQ+ community may identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, queer and/or questioning, intersex, asexual and two-spirit.

What do religions say about queerness?

All religions have different interpretations that have changed over time and across cultures. It’s important to remember that all interpretations represent the beliefs and biases of those who are doing the interpreting. 

Although there are religious people who do not accept the 2SLGBTQ+ community, there are many religious people and groups who welcome them with open arms, and without prejudice. 

Chances are that no matter what religion you look into, you’ll be able to find a strong community of people who interpret their religion to be loving and accepting of all people. 

How do I explore my spirituality as a queer person? 

Everyone’s faith is their own personal journey, but it also usually involves being part of a group of people who share the faith. 

For queer people, this can be challenging if they are around people who interpret religious texts to mean that there are only two genders, or that there are only certain people you can love. This can result in queer people feeling excluded from the religious community they’re a part of, or confused about what the “right” interpretation of their religion is.

Faith often requires people to have belief in things beyond our understanding of what is real and tangible. There’s not one system of beliefs that everyone in the world can conclude is the “right” one. 

The important thing is to:

  • Explore your faith without letting the bias and prejudice of others influence you 
  • Find people who share your values, and who can help you on your spiritual journey
  • Resist letting others define you, and build confidence in your own beliefs
  • Find or create your own sacred places to meditate, worship, or cleanse your spirit  

If you want to explore your faith, but don’t know where to start, try one of these resources:

Learning Resources for 2SLGBTQI-Affirming Faith Communities, Organizations, and Resources

Faith Support by Trans Wellness Ontario

Affirming Church Directory

Resource Guide for LGBTQ+ Muslims by the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity

Faith Resources for Jews by PFLAG

Faith Resources for Muslims by FLAG

Faith Resources for Non-Judeo-Christian/Abrahamic Denominations by PFLAG

How do I support my queer friends?

Remember that everyone has a right to explore their spirituality, and no matter what religion you practice, no one has all the “right” answers. 

If you want to be a supportive friend and ally, the best thing you can do is create a safe space for others to explore their beliefs if they want to. Being an attentive and non-judgemental listener can go a long way in providing a safe space for a friend to express how they feel.  

If you think the way you’ve been taught your religion prevents you from being a supportive friend, then try to research and learn different perspectives. This toolkit for youth who want to navigate queerness and faith by the Youth Project is a good place to start.