A guest post by Jera Brown
From coming out as queer to being an unmarried sexually active person, much of my adult faith journey has centered around reconciling the relationship between God and my sexuality. It started out as a relatively private endeavor: seeking out my own answers and confiding in a few friends and clergy. Personal restoration happened first. I came to understand that there should be no shame in being a sexual person and no sin related to being queer.
And then a private endeavor became more and more public. I read books like Kelly Brown Douglas’s Sexuality and the Black Church and began to see how societal opinions of sexuality are politically motivated and used to oppress groups of people. And I sought out organizations like Christian Feminism Today that are active at the intersection of sexuality and faith.
I now consider myself an activist in this area and edit a multi-faith blog, Sacred and Subversive, which offers queer perspectives on the future of faith communities.
Because of this project, I was awarded a blogger’s scholarship to the Woodhull Foundation’s annual Sexual Freedom Summit, (#SFS17) a conference on a range of issues related to sexual rights and promoting healthy sexuality. The topic of religion came up in many ways at the summit.
For instance, medical physician Dr. Willie Parker, author of Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, discussed why his faith led him to dedicate his career to providing abortion services in low-service areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
Queer Muslim activists Noor and Elias Bean presented on how Western attempts at promoting sex positive values often dismiss other perspectives, limiting what a healthy sexuality could look like.
And in an important session for me, Rev. Dr. Beverly Dale, Rev. Lacette Cross, and therapist Rachel Keller, LGSW, M.Ed, presented on religious toxicity in sexual advocacy. Rev. Dr. Dale is founder of the which provides inclusive, sex-positive trainings for clergy and laypeople. Rev. Cross founded Will You Be Whole Ministries to reconcile the relationship between sex and faith for black women. Attendees spoke our own trauma around growing up in sex-negative religious environments and reminded one other that this is not how religion has to be.
At the summit, I spoke to seminarians, ministers, and fellow Christian writers engaged in meaningful dialogue around sex and faith. It reaffirmed that sexuality is an important aspect of spiritual activism and that people of faith can and should collaborate with non-faith activists to do good work.