How do I understand the relationship between religion and the 2SLGBTQI+ community?

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 2SLGBTQI+?

2SLGBTQI+ is an acronym used by the government of Canada to refer to individuals who are not straight or cisgender.

Straight: an informal term used to describe a heterosexual person, meaning someone who is only sexually or romantically attracted to people of the opposite sex.

Cisgender: describes a person whose gender identity is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth. 

People in the 2SLGBTQI+ community may identify as two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, non-binary, intersex, asexual, aromantic, demisexual and more.

What do religions say about 2SLGBTQI+ people?

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 in power who are also in charge of the interpretation. 

Although there are religious people who do not accept the 2SLGBTQI+ 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 2SLGBTQI+ person? 

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

For 2SLGBTQI+ 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 2SLGBTQI+ people feeling excluded from the religious community they’re part of or confused about what the “right” interpretation of their religion is.

Faith often requires people to believe in things beyond our understanding of what is real and tangible. There’s not one system of beliefs that everyone 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:

How do I support my 2SLGBTQI+ friends?

Remember that everyone has a right to explore their spirituality; 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 understand your religion prevents you from being a supportive friend, then try to research and learn different perspectives. This toolkit for supporting 2SLGBTQIA+ pals by the Youth Project is a great place to start.