Q Christian Fellowship (QCF) held its annual Parent and Family Summit May 5-7 at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
According to the event's press release, this year's gathering "is a proclamation that LGBTQ+ people are beloved and aims to equip their parents and loved ones to live out that reality."
QCF is, according to its website, "cultivating radical belonging for LGBTQ+ Christians and allies. We are a diverse community with varied backgrounds, cultures, theologies and denominations, drawn together through our love of Christ and our belief that every person is a beloved child of God.
"We recognize that the church has not and does not always make it easy for those who identify as lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, same-gender loving, queer, pansexual intersex, asexual, genderfluid or questioning to reconcile these aspects of themselves with their Christian identity. We are witnesses to both the harm that faith communities can inflict, and the hope and healing that is possible through Christ."
Sarah Kessler served as the moderator for the May 6 panel, "What are our kids' feelings?" Panelists included QCF administrative assistant Carter Kelly and participants Jennifer Nyhuis, Veronica Pena, Josie White, Alejandro Ugarte and Stefie Dominguez.
Kessler spoke about growing up in Wheaton in a very evangelical Christian environment and how that affected their coming out process, and asked the panelists about their own coming out experiences.
All of the panelists said the coming out process was difficult and took a long time to come to fruition for them. They also spoke of their parents' difficulties accepting their queer/trans identities. Ugarte specifically mentioned seeking out "conversion therapy" after hearing about it from Focus on the Family, and the effects it has had on his life since that time.
Kessler asked how they all felt before they came out for the first time. Dominguez said she felt anxious while Ugarte said he was fearful and had nightmares. White spoke about feeling fearful with a low sense of self-worth, as well as being invisible.
Pena said she felt the worst while attending church alongside thoughts of being a gross and disgusting person. Nyhuis spoke about her thoughts of being fearful and having shame and self-doubt about herself. Kelly said they were filled with fear, depression and anxiety.
Then Kessler asked how they feel now after coming out to their loved-ones, and added that they are filled with positive thoughts. Kelly said they are happy and "love being queer." Both Nyhuis and Pena (who are married with two young children) spoke about being able to love themselves now, and that their children love them for who they are. White, who first came out as queer and then as a trans person, said she is proud and has a lot of joy in her life. Ugarte spoke about loving life, while Dominguez said that being queer was her "biggest gift from God."
The summit also featured keynotes by headlining speaker and The Christian Closet LGBTQ+ affirming online counseling and coaching practice founder and therapist Candice Czubernat; speakers QCF Parent Team member Grace Thomas and NewStory Chicago Pastor of Discipleship and Connection and Relational Insight, Inc. counselor Tasha Mitchell; a parent panel, "How did we feel when our kids came out? How do we feel now?"; QCF Board Member and QCF Parent Team leader Linda Robertson speaking about "How We Can Care for Ourselves" and "How We Can Care for Our Kids"; as well as worship, reflection and devotional activities.
See qchristian.org/ .