Many people think that having an article on faith in a GLBT magazine is an odd waste of space. That there are more important topics. Gender, ethnicity, healthcare, HIV/ AIDS prevention and treatment, politics, these are all more relevant. And yet, faith is a crucial element always missing in our community. While the heterosexual world relies on faith as a foundation for their identity, homosexuals often deny we need it. I won't say religion. Not yet. I know it is a scary word conjuring images of Jerry Falwell, the Pope, or Fred Phelps. People who ridicule, reject, or abuse us. Or, religion points to the too perfect and benevolent such as Mother Teresa and saints to whom we can in no way relate. But faith should be ours. Sure, we have been rejected by many churches or temples, but when has that stopped us? We made our own bars, our own movies, our own newspapers. It is supply and demand like everything else. Why are we not demanding that faith is a necessity in our lives?
As a lesbian who is also a Christian, I know that my faith informs my identity greatly. I also know that GLBT people have strong views on faith. It is ironic to me that I find more negativity in telling GLBT people that I am Christian, than I do telling Christian people that I am lesbian. Why is that? Do Christian people hide their true feelings about my sexuality? Why are GLBT people so quick to be loudly shocked? Asking me 'How?' and 'Why?' GLBT people can be very passionate about their rejection of faith. Many of us shrink away from anything Christian. We struggle with issues based in childhood Catholicism. GLBT people raised Jewish now just celebrate the 'important' holidays, not feeling entirely comfortable with their religious identity. Islamic GLBT men and women have been repressed so subversively by their faith that it seems unfathomable to pray as did their parents.
But what does that mean for us as adults? As gays and lesbians? As a community? Has our sexuality become our religion? But then where is our faith? It is a question that needs to be addressed.
What is faith? Faith n 1) belief in, devotion to or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof; 2) a system of religious belief, or the people who adhere to it; 3) belief in and devotion to God; 4) a strongly held set of beliefs or principles; 5) allegiance or loyalty to somebody or something.
Most believe in something. That one is easy. System of belief? Many GLBT people say they don't believe in organized religion. Understandable. Judgment comes down from many of 'faith' to exclude us. God? What kind of God are we talking about, you may ask. Strongly held principles? Well, no community is as passionate as ours. Loyalty to somebody or something? Oh, there is the rub. How loyal are we to ourselves? We are in denial somehow. We pretend we don't need faith and I am sure that we do. That it is an essential missing ingredient to us as a community.
Lest I be thought of as a Southern (which I am) converter (which I am not), let me say that I believe a diversity of faiths is as important as a diversity of sexuality. But I believe faith is sorely missing in the GLBT community. That we somehow feel unworthy of the divine. That it does not belong to us. It is for heterosexuals, our parents, 'others.' I think it belongs to us more. And that as a community we have a great ability to use our faith for good. In this space, as odd as it may seem, I will work with others to explore that. The divine in ourselves and our community. How unlocking it, accepting it and sharing it, will make us stronger individually and as a community.
firstname.lastname@example.org . Leaders of various faiths answering questions monthly. Matheny is co-host of Windy City Radio, Sundays, 11 p.m., WCKG, 105.9 FM.