This paper (by the Revd Penny Jones and myself) was originally published in Coolamon, Issue 7 March 2023, the journal of the Australian Network for Spiritual Direction). It can be downloaded here. It explores some ways in which LGBTQ+ people contribute to our changing experience of God and reveal paths of enriching spiritual transformation. For sexual and gender identities have been at the heart of some significant recent features of both spiritual growth and conflict. From the late 1960s,1 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) 2, or queer3 people have formed increasingly effective social and political movements, transforming many cultural, legal and philosophical norms across the world. For many, this has also involved deliberate or unconscious spiritual expression. Progress has however been uneven, across time and space, and traditional religious formations and spiritual norms have been particular obstacles. Differing, and sometimes conflicting, conceptions of queer people and their gifts are therefore inevitably present within the spiritual direction space. Deeper exploration of these, and the underlying lived spiritual experience of queer people, is thus vital for the further flourishing of all involved. Indeed, whilst aspects may be challenging for some, the authors of this paper affirm that queer spiritual experience and understanding offers gifts which provide renewing insights for spiritual direction practice as a whole. Without unduly entering into wider controversies over sexuality and gender, this paper therefore suggests some life-giving ways to engage. These include exploring aspects of “queer virtues” identified by queer spiritual theologians and the metaphors of “coming out” and “transition” as embodiments of the paschal mystery and healthy, holy, transformation...
It was good to share recently on The Latest in LGBTIQ+ Health and Policy - a podcast that brings the health and wellbeing hot topic discussions that matter to LGBTIQ+ people:
Our conversation explored the intersection between faith and LGBTQ+ community, the changes happening within the church, overcoming barriers as a trans woman, and my 30 year relationship with wife Penny.'
This podcast was produced by JOY Media – Australia’s Rainbow Community Media Organisation. For more information about JOYs services, visit joy.org.au/services
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Budyeri Gamaruwa – greetings in Gadigal. I acknowledge elders, past and present, and all First Nations people here. For before these steps on which we stand existed, this was Aboriginal land. It is, and always will be, Aboriginal land. For true identity, love and self-determination are not ceded by the oppressions of others. That is at the heart of our simple act of solidarity today.
My name is Josephine McDonnell Inkpin. I am a transgender woman and a queer person of faith. including being Minister here at Pitt Street Uniting Church. So I thank you all for coming this morning. For gender diverse people and queer people of faith are very vulnerable right now. We are not surprised by current attacks. In fact, we trans people have been warning about them for ages, but typically our concerns have given little priority -– just as our calls not to issue a visa to an UK rabble-rouser could have helped avoid Nazis on the streets of Melbourne and feeding right wing forces across the country. Similarly, we queer Christians have called for our voices to be heard properly but, with notable exceptions, many key Christian leaders and some queer people have given little priority to our concerns – just as our calls to help us address the now visible Christian Right in Sydney could have helped avoid the violence on Sydney streets. This - must – change: both for the sake of trans people and queer people of faith and for us all. For an attack on any of us is an attack on all of us. Our attackers think that trans people and queer Christians are easy and weak targets. Well, we are so not weak in spirit, but we are not as strong we could be if we had greater voice and empowerment. This simple solidarity photograph is therefore a declaration of that intent...
I speak as both a transgender woman and as an Anglican priest, currently serving as an Uniting Church Minister. As a Queer Christian I am not alone. There are many of us in Sydney, and across the world. For we, and queer people of other faiths, have always existed. We can be found in the Bible, throughout history, and we are very much alive today. Yet our lives are so commonly denied. For we are an inconvenient truth: inconvenient both to the Christians who oppose us, and inconvenient also to others, including some in the queer community, who would deny our lives. As such, we are at the heart of the continuing culture wars we seek to end today and we share in the solidarity and hope which this gathering embodies. Indeed, without us the battles we face together simply cannot be won. We so need each other and we badly need others to hear our voices and act upon them...
Wonderful to sing my hymn for Sydney WorldPride (based on its theme Gather, Dream, Amplify) this morning at Pitt Street Uniting Church - feel free to use and share! #amplifyqueerfaith #amplifyfaith #sydneyworldpride
We have started producing some short video clips from LGBTIQA+ folk at Pitt Street Uniting Church - partly for the Sydney WorldPride season but also beyond - but also to help others and transform the silence and distortions that still accompany our lives and living faith. This brief contribution is entitled: 'The Gift of Queer People of Faith: bringing us back to the heart of the Gospel, helping Love flow'...
As part of both Equal Voices and Pitt Street Uniting Church, it was an immense delight to launch our Queer Faces of Faith photo exhibition - check out the photos and stories online here - at https://www.amplifyqueerfaith.com.au - and/or visit the physical exhibition at Pitt Street Uniting Church in the heart of the city of Sydney from 16 February to 31st March (before it goes on tour!).
The physical exhibition will be accessible during the Sydney World Pride and Mardi Gras festival period 17 February - 5 March (10am-2pm - at least - daily).
#AmplifyQueerFaith #QueerFacesOfFaith #QueerAllyFacesOfFaith
Many thanks to Dr Meredith Lake and Rohan Salmond for inviting Penny Jones and I to share in this episode of ABC's Soul Search, exploring queer theology and its expression in World Pride. It was a great joy, including sharing with such delightful co-interlocutors and friends as Dr Peter Kline and Benjamin Oh.
It was huge thrill to share in the launch of our Faith@WorldPride initiatives at Pitt Strete Uniting tonight, as our first large and extraordinarily gorgeous 'queer angels' (Compassion, Courage and Joy) arrived, with the amazing Jyllie Jackson and her team from LightnUp in Lismore (our community arts and justice partners and inspirators). It was a wonderful opportunity to meet before the various Faith@WorldPride events next year and to share something about what we are all being and doing. In addition to tahking Jyllie and her team, we were also delighted to have our friends from Studio Commercial with us to take some group photos to complement the first batch of Queer Faces of Faith exhibition photos currently being taken.
More information in the Wine with Queer Anegls brochure here
It was good to attend the first day of the APSA Workshop on Religion and Politics After Marriage Equality at Macquarie University this week - although I was unable due to illnes to be at the second day - with many thanks to Dr Eleneie Poulos and Kate Gleeson for putting together such a brilliant program, and to all the other speakers for sharing their insights. Much to think about on this topic with a new federal government.
My own paper - 'On climbing out from under the bus: queer faith futures in a cisgender world' can be read here
Jo Inkpin is an Anglican priest serving as Minister of Pitt St Uniting Church in Sydney, a trans woman, theologian & justice activist. These are some of my reflections on life, spirit, and the search for peace, justice & sustainable creation.