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Scriptures and Sexuality

A video project exploring faith and the LGBTQ community

Does being a practising Christian or Muslim or Jew mean that you do not welcome LGBTQ people into your place of worship? Do you have to abandon your religious beliefs when you come out as gay, lesbian, bi or trans? Can – and should - religions adapt to be more welcoming to LGBTQ people?

In a project co-funded by the Office for Students  as part of their initiative to tackle religious-based hate crime, Solent University has produced a series of video interviews exploring the interaction between religion and sexuality/gender identity. We have talked to people of faith and of no faith; people who identify as LGBTQ and people who do not.

We asked them about their faith’s teachings on sexuality and gender identity and we heard about their journeys towards a resolution of some of the tensions that still exist around the topic. The stories we have captured here are moving and inspiring testimonies to the struggle for understanding and acceptance that many people go through to be true to themselves and to their beliefs.

We hope that these short videos will be used as the catalyst to more conversations around these issues. We will shortly publish an Ideas Pack on how they might be used in an educational context to prompt discussion and respectful debate.

Minister’s gay son

The core Christian message is about love and acceptance” – James recounts his and his family’s journey as he comes to terms with being a gay man whose mum is a minister in the Church of England.

It’s up to God to be judge

"It’s not about how we can promote a healthy relationship between Islam and LGBTQ people – it’s how we promote a healthy relationship between humanity and LGBTQ people.” Shahbazz, a Sunni Muslim and Hamas, a Shia Muslim reflect on the acceptance of LGBTQ people in the Islamic faith.

It’s all about education

“You can be a good Muslim and also be gay”. Our interviewee – a Muslim man who we have called Ahmed - is not out to his family or colleagues and so his words are spoken by an actor. He describes a long and painful personal journey to reconcile his faith and his sexuality and how he finally found peace and inner strength with the help of a national organisation called Hidayah.

We must have conversation

“There are areas where I still don’t know what the answer is – I’m still on a journey.” Osama talks about how his identity as a Muslim man and his attitudes to LGBTQ colleagues and friends has evolved since he arrived in the UK from a traditional Bangladeshi upbringing in the Islamic faith.

Humanity is precious

“I could let go of pretending to be something society was telling me to be.” Scott tells of the strength he draws from being a Nichiren Buddhist and how that helped him to come to terms with his own sexuality.

The Damage of Silence

“I think Jesus is someone very much concerned with the hearts of people as well as their minds.” Carol – Christian and bisexual – reflects on the struggle within the Church of England to accept and welcome LGBTQ people into the church.

Treat others with respect

"I wear a rainbow lanyard at work because I feel quite passionately that, as a Muslim, I should be a supporter of the LGBTQ community.” Ameena reflects on her upbringing, where traditional Bangladeshi culture, Islamic teachings and Western values all influenced her personal values, beliefs and her determination to be true to herself.

We have worth

“I’ve had a number of Christian friends who are gay and there’s such a variety of different experiences out there…” Josh talks about the importance of Christianity in his life and how his scientific, analytical personality shapes his exploration of faith and sexuality

Words matter

“There’s a trend in using language that contributes to a dehumanisation of people.” Alice from Minnesota talks about being part of a progressive, inclusive Christian community and how her sense of her own bisexual identity evolved over a period of time.

Fighting to change attitudes

“I had a relationship with God - if He had made me gay, it must be ok to be gay.” David - raised in a Catholic family – recalls how the inner conflict between religious teachings and sexuality became too much for one of his friends who tried to take his own life

It’s your interpretation

“The way that you have been raised doesn’t have to be the way that you continue with your life.” Jim was raised as a Mormon but now embraces Pagan beliefs. He describes how the male and female aspects of the Pagan deity he worships helped him to accept his own sexuality and inform his view of the world.