Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

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The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision

If you follow LGBTfeed.com you may have already seen this, but it’s definitely worth a second look. Kittredge Cherry who has previously worked with Hidden Perspectives, creating material for our Festival in 2013 (see more here), is the creator of what you are about to see.

“Kittredge Cherry (author) said: “These dramatic paintings break the deadly illusion that Jesus belongs exclusively to a particular time or group.””

“A queer Passion is crucial now even for non-believers because Christianity is being used to justify discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
See the rest of this amazing work by following this link to the LGBT news on the LGBTfeed.com page.

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Recapping the Festival: Lectures

Part IV: Lectures

Your festival summaries have so far looked at Poetry, Drama and Art. This summary will focus on the diverse range of lectures that were given at the festival. Since there were so many and they were all fantastic we will look at them here in alphabetical order according to the lecturer’s first name, so as not to show any favouritism! Continue reading

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Reubs J Walsh Interview by Emily Foster-Brown

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and give a brief overview of your research interests?

I am an undergraduate just about to finish a Physiological Sciences degree at Oxford. My degree has been focussed on neuroscience, but whilst at uni I have been exposed to ideas around queer theory and gender, which led me to the realisation that my gender is not simple or binary. My primary research interests are in developmental neuroscience; social cognition, vulnerability to mood disorders, criminality and – of course – where gender identity comes from in the first place. However, I was raised Christian and have retained that faith despite the difficulties of being a queer person in the Church, in part because of a largely queer-supportive Methodist church-background, and in part because of the explicitly LGBTQ-inclusive community that has supported me at MCC North London, which was also the community most involved in enabling me to come out as genderqueer. When I came out as “gay” (obviously a bit of a binary concept but I still identify with it to an extent) I found it helpful to my faith and to coping with an awareness of the systemic discrimination I would face in society and in the Church, to investigate the biblical basis – or, as it turned out, lack thereof – of theological homophobia. When I came out as genderqueer, this time fully aware that there was no biblical basis for transphobia, but intrigued to see whether God was planning to encourage me in being the the way I was created, I dove back in again!

How did you get involved with Hidden Perspectives?

Um, one of the organisers noticed me feeding the trolls on Facebook and messaged me I think!

I think your lecture title, “Jesus – the 4th wave feminist of the year 25AD” is one of the best at the Festival! Could you give us a sneak peek into what you are going to discuss?

The short version is that the Bible is much queerer than people think; and that this is no more apparent anywhere than in the Life of Jesus and the people he associated with. I’m not one of those who are of the opinion that Jesus and John were in a sexual relationship, but Jesus, it seems to me, was not so much celibate, as asexual, and his intense and close relationship with genderqueer St John sheds some light on just how clearly Jesus fits the admittedly modern concept of a queer ally. A pointed allyship to queer people, and a marked emphasis on socialist intersectionalist feminism, can only add up to one thing: that the person who millions of Christians around the globe believe was a flesh-and-blood incarnation of our creator God, was also the first ever feminist; and he was a 4th-waver.

Was it difficult to find information on Jesus & feminism for your paper? Do you feel the subject is overlooked?

I haven’t written a paper specifically on Jesus and feminism, although I have made reference to Tutu’s articulation of Ubuntu in my latest submission to Feminism & Psychology. The subject is overlooked in public debate, but not in the bible, which (perhaps ironically for someone with my view on biblical authority) was my main source for this investigation.

Why do you think projects like Hidden Perspectives are important right now?

Because the debate around LGBTQ rights is always framed as an either-or with religious freedom, and the rights of religious organisations; this leads to the impression that the only religious freedom at stake in the debate is the freedoms of those whose (in my view rather insufficient) theology leads them to feel that those rights conflict with theirs. The political issues get very muddled, and part of the problem is that people forget that legislating against having a religious same-sex marriage is actually going to have an impact on the freedoms of the many LGBTQ people of faith with faith-communities who support their right to be who God made them to be, and to love the person (or people!) that God has taught them to love. A big part of this debate which is more-or-less totally ignored in public fora is also the huge impact on the wellbeing of trans people and their spouses that requiring them to divorce before transition will have.

Most of all, I think that God is always doing new things, and God speaks with a still, small voice; incarnated as the son of an impoverished carpenter and a teenage mum, and ever since, as well as before then, God speaks through the voices of those who are silenced by prejudice. I don’t know if God will speak through me, but I hope so – and I’m sure God will be speaking through many of those at the Festival!

Why should people get involved? What’s your hope for people who do?

People should ask their consciences whether they can leave this issue silenced, or whether they will raise their voices with the thousands of queer people of faith to say that these things have a common point of origin – a God of love; and that love is the expression of God into the world. I hope that people will speak out for the needs and interests of queer people of faith and will find that in so doing, they are brought closer to God – whatever that means for them.

Do you believe LGBT and the Bible should be discussed together (under the same platform)?

Absolutely. No question. I think it is important to remember to discuss the authority of the bible but also, right now it seems as if the debate is always about people of faith versus queer people, as if there’s no intersection between those things – as if people like me don’t exist in the public mind. There is also the way that trans people are collectively akin to ‘the least of these’ in the way that, for example, ‘transition’ requires two years of ‘living in role’ which puts trans people at enormous risk for violence that could be avoided if they were allowed to access the procedures that would allow them to ‘pass’ for cis – it’s wrong that it should be necessary to pass, but as long as it is, this requirement, along with others, facilitates the literal violence and murder that trans people are so vulnerable to. In an NHS founded on the principle of ‘care at the point of need’, people are expected to wait for months to get the first appointment, and years from that appointment, to access life-saving medical assistance. The number of gender clinic referrals is going up 36% every year, and yet it is clear that funding is not going to be increased to reflect that increased need – and people are dying.

What are some of your hopes for the future of LGBT & Religion discussion?

I hope that people will start to see that from a legislative perspective, the two need not be in conflict, and that an attitude of live-and-let-live would make things easier for all concerned. I also hope that within faith organisations, LGBT people will become more visible and our contributions more recognised, and, over time, welcomed as an integral part of the Body of Christ; at the moment, the Church and other faiths have an autoimmune disease; rejecting a part of their own body!


Kittredge Cherry Interview by Bethany Fenton

Kitt w Portrait by Yarber cropped 800 px 10-21-2012 DSC_0115

Can you introduce yourself to our readers and give us an idea of what you do?

I am what many people believe is impossible: a lesbian Christian. I bring together two realities that appear to be opposites. I am too queer for most of the church — and too religious for most of the LGBT community. I am also an author, art historian, and retired minister in Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). My specialty is writing about LGBT spirituality and art, including the queer Christ and LGBT saints. My books include “Art That Dares” and I write regularly for the Jesus in Love Blog.

Do you have a personal story about LGBT and Religion/The Bible?

My Christian faith gave me the strength to come out as a lesbian almost 30 years ago. I grew up mostly secular and did not believe in God. I hid my sexual orientation in the closet and lived a lie because I was afraid of the stigma and discrimination against homosexuality. My father’s death in 1983 led me to go an interdenominational church, where I experienced the reality of God reaching out personally to me with love. I got baptized and Christianity gave me a whole new way of looking at the world: I knew God loved me and created me as I am, so I could stop worrying about other people’s disapproval. Later I learned that my journey was unusual. Many LGBT people start out feeling condemned as sinners by the church, and find liberation by rejecting religion. But I felt condemned by society and found liberation through the church. I could never imagine a God that didn’t totally love LGBT people.
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News Round Up

Welcome to your weekly news round up!

This week in the news we saw the continuation of the case from last week of the firing of an Ohio teacher due to her sexuality with a local Bishop defending the ‘Catholic values’ behind the decision.

Cambridge lecturer Abdal Hakim Murad has apologised for offensive statements made almost 15 years ago where he stated that homosexuality was an “inherent aberration” and “inherently ugly”; stating that he was at the time “in the grip of a kind of zealot enthusiasm.”

A new video by US anti-gay Christian organisation Faith 2 Action, claims that homosexuality is “more dangerous” than smoking, and attempts to parody a pro-LGBT children’s book, by suggesting that accepting same-sex parents is the same as encouraging children to smoke. Read more here.

Also, the Huffington Post published an article by author Derek Flood titled “What does Jesus think about Homosexuality?” that has sparked interesting debates in the comments threads.