The relationship between religion and the LGBTQ community is a complicated one, and everyone experiences it differently. It all depends on how you feel, and what you choose.
Historically many orthodox religions have treated LGBTQ people harshly. However, within nearly every religious denomination there are now supportive groups that have adopted different interpretations about LGBTQ people. Some denominations, such as Reform Judaism and the Episcopalian church, are openly supportive of LGBTQ members. As society shifts to be more accepting of LGBTQ people, many other denominations are starting to become LGBTQ-inclusive.
- I’m Catholic and want to go out with girls, but I’m so afraid that I’ll be committing a serious sin. Do LGBTQ people go to heaven? Am I going to hell if I come out as bisexual or a lesbian?
- I don’t feel like a heterosexual, cisgender girl, but I come from a religious home where being LGBT is a sin. I also don’t mind if I’m romantically involved with a man or a woman, but I can’t actually picture myself in a sexual relationship. I don’t want to upset my family and friends, but I also want to be comfortable. Help!
- My family is so conservative and very religious. I don’t know if I can ever tell them I’m gay. Should I wait until I’m older, or go ahead and tell them now?
1. I’m Catholic and want to go out with girls, but I’m so afraid that I’ll be committing a serious sin. Do LGBTQ people go to heaven? Am I going to hell if I come out as bisexual or a lesbian?
It takes a lot of courage to reach out for answers. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Lots of people who identify as LGBTQ experience similar worries about religion.
Despite what you may have read on the internet, it’s very important for you to know that there is nothing wrong with being bisexual or a lesbian. Just because you might like girls does not mean you are going to hell. In fact, there are many practicing Catholics who are gay, lesbian, etc. and there is even a group within the Catholic Church who are working hard for LGBT rights: https://www.equallyblessed.org/about/. These people are proof that you can be religious and a lesbian, or bisexual.
There are many religious leaders who spread a message of love and acceptance of ALL people. Have you ever spoken with someone from the Catholic Church who is accepting of different sexual orientations? If you have not, we encourage you to read through PFLAG’s guide called “Faith in Our Families: Parents, Families, and Friends Talk About Religious and Homosexuality”: http://community.pflag.org/document.doc?id=494. It could help you start a conversation with a trusted adult in your faith, or even a parent or friend.
Another resource you might find helpful is The Institute for Welcoming Resources at http://www.welcomingresources.org, where you can search for affirming congregations and resources. Finally, remember that The Trevor Project is always here for you. You can reach out to us over TrevorChat, or call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 if you need any more advice or want to talk. We are here for you!
2. I don’t feel like a heterosexual, cisgender girl, but I come from a religious home where being LGBT is a sin. I also don’t mind if I’m romantically involved with a man or a woman, but I can’t actually picture myself in a sexual relationship. I don’t want to upset my family and friends, but I also want to be comfortable. Help!
It’s completely normal to have questions because these areas are very complex. Each person’s feelings and experiences with these topics are unique. It sounds like you’re worried about how your parents might react if you come out, since you come from a religious household. Many parents go through their own process when their child comes out, and unfortunately some react less favorably than others. If you feel like coming out to your parents will put your safety at risk – like if you worry they might kick you out, or start treating you very badly because of your identity – then that’s an important thing to keep in mind. Above all, the most important thing is to stay safe, even if that means holding off on coming out. The only person who can make that decision is you, and no one else.
Religious communities can sometimes be considered less accepting of the LGBTQ community, but faith may also give you hope and a sense of community. Have you explored whether or not your religion has any supportive groups, maybe online or nearby? There are several resources at the end of this section that might be useful as you navigate how your religion and your identity interact. You might want to check out our social networking site, TrevorSpace (www.trevorspace.org) to talk with other LGBTQ youth and their allies. It can be a great place to start, especially if you’re uncomfortable with approaching friends and family at this time.
Also, you mentioned that you might not want to be in a physical relationship; and that’s ok! It’s important to know that love doesn’t have to equal sex, and you can have strong, meaningful relationships with friends or partners that aren’t physical. It could be helpful to take a look at different types of sexual orientations, like asexual, bisexual, and bi-romantic. Even if you decide none of these labels suit you, you may gain a better understanding of your feelings.
Do you know anyone – a supportive friend, family member, teacher, or community leader – would could be open to having a conversation about gender identity or sexual orientation? It can be very helpful to have a support system while you’re exploring who you are. If you every need immediate support, know that the Trevor Lifeline is just a phone call away at 1-866-488-7386. You can also chat with us online at www.TrevorChat.org if that works better. Don’t forget – you aren’t alone!
3. My family is so conservative and very religious. I don’t know if I can ever tell them I’m gay. Should I wait until I’m older, or go ahead and tell them now?
You are not alone in facing this challenge – and figuring out what to do can be really tough. As you consider whether or not to come out, the most important thing is for you to be safe and comfortable with your decision.
There are benefits and risks to coming out, and each person has to weigh the pros and cons for themselves. It can let people in your life know about an important part of you; it can help you feel less alone, especially if you find support you didn’t expect; and you may even meet new friends or people to date. However, there are also challenges you need to consider.
We don’t know your family but you mentioned that they are conservative and religious. How do you think they might react if you told them you were gay? Would you be safe, or would you be afraid that they might kick you out of the house? Do you have a safe place to go, just in case, or a person to call who’d have your back no matter what? Check out The Trevor Project’s “Coming Out As You” – it’s an online guide that can help you figure out whether or not you’re ready to come out to your family. Remember, there’s no rush and no one can tell you who and when you need to share this part of yourself with.
As you might already know, various faiths and congregations have different views on the LGBT community. Despite what you’ve been taught, it’s very important to know that there is nothing wrong with being gay. In fact, it is completely normal and natural. There are many, many gay people who are religious and continue to attend religious services. To learn about the Biblical scriptures that teach compassion and support for all people, you might consider reading through the numerous guides on Soulforce’s “Resources” webpage at www.soulforce.org. If you’d like to read more about various opinions regarding faith and sexual orientation, there is also a great resource online called The Institute for Welcoming Resources at http://www.welcomingresources.org/. It is the most comprehensive and up-to-date website devoted to providing religious and faith based resources for the LGBTQ community.
Finally, it can really help to reach out to someone you trust (a close friend, parent, teacher or school counselor) and talk through the worries you have. The Trevor Project is also always here for you, through TrevorChat online and the Trevor Lifeline over the phone, available at 1-866-488-7386 all day, every day. TrevorSpace.org is also great place to go for other resources for support. It’s The Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you’re considering right now.
- HRC – Religion and Faith
- PFLAG – Faith in Our Families
- Religion Facts – Homosexuality and Religion
- Religious Institute – LGBT Equality
- Believe Out Loud | Welcoming Church Map
- Q Christian
- National LGBT Task Force – Institute for Welcoming Resources
- Imaan – LGBTQI Muslim Support Group
- Al-Fitrah Foundation — A faith-based organization that uses spiritual tools to provide acceptance and healing to the queer Muslim community
- Muslims for Progressive Values
- Queer Jihad
- Keshet – Full equality and inclusion of LGBT Jews
- Nehirim – A national community of LGBT Jews
- JQ International – Other Jewish LGBT Organizations
Through The Trevor Support Center you are able to link to other websites which are not under the control of The Trevor Project. The Trevor Project does not review or ensure the accuracy of the content on other sites.