Being Authentic

I spent the weekend at the Creating Change conference, put on by the National Gay and Lesbian task force. Most of my work there was focused on faith, spirituality, sexuality, and queerness. The theme came up of ascent/descent. I found that even though I am on the outskirts of my religious community, I am also on the outskirts of my queer community because I am religious and enjoy so much of my religious traditions. A secular Muslim colleague calls it “spiritual violence” when you are not able to practice your religion in secular settings. This is hard for people of any religion, but especially for folks who are Muslim. Most secular people want to hear the sob stories about religion, especially Islam. It makes it harder to tell stories about hard things that happened, because then the speaker is viewed as not being comfortable with their faith.

There was a lot of talk at this conference about what it meant to be “authentically Catholic” and “authentically queer.” I feel my Catholicism comes out in ways where I don’t need to be authentically queer. If God is boundless, the earth is the place that created boundaries and binaries. And that wasn’t a queer theorist who says these things, it’s religious scholars. Granted, there have been lots of horrible things that I have experienced in the name of religion, but I prefer to float between ascending and descending – to just be authentic.

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2 thoughts on “Being Authentic

  1. I had a friend who said it was easier to come out to his Catholic friends as gay than to his gay friends as Catholic–there are mischaracterizations and exclusive behavior on both sides, for sure. You’re one of the poles of the Big Tent!

  2. Theodora – it sounds like you had a really interesting experience at Creating Change (jealous!). I have experienced a similar tension in the LGBTQ community, as well as in feminist circles. The whole question about “authenticity” can be really difficult to grapple with. Most days, I feel like the only way through it is to be authentically ME, which invariably draws in my religion, spirituality, sexuality, and gender identity. :)

    I would love to hear more of your reflections on the conference and the discussion about queerness and religion, if you feel like sharing. Thanks!

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