First-person testimonies from LGBTQ+ Christians about coming out and navigating their family dynamics
What happens in a family when one member comes out? How does LGBTQ+ identity affect relationships with parents and grandparents, siblings and cousins? What does Christian love require and make possible for families moving forward together?
A social scientist and a pastor, both from Galileo Church on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas, asked their LGBTQ+ friends from church to help them understand how they navigate relationships with their affirming, non-affirming, and affirming-ish families of origin, even as they also find belonging in other families of choice. The resulting stories, crafted from interviews with fifteen queer Christians and family members, kept anonymous at their request, are as varied as the colors of the rainbow. Over the years, some grew closer to their families of origin; others grew more distant. Some were surprised by the hardness of heart they encountered; others were amazed by the breadth of their family’s love. Most all describe a trajectory, a journey, from the coming-out moment till now and beyond, as their families of origin, like all families, remain a work in progress.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Paula Stone Williams Prologue Introductions Tell Us the Shape of Your Shalom, Katie Hays We’re Listening, Susan A. Chiasson The Stories All of Me, Jake In My Own Head, Cole A Lifelong Quest for Unconditional Love, Evelyn Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell, Marion Hiding for Too Long, Leanne Doing the Work, Ava Prepare Yourself, Kyra Permanent Distance, Not Going Back, Daniel and Kellie Sometimes It Gets Better, Sometimes It Gets Worse, Rory Smelling the Shit That Was Always There, Jackie The Mama Bear and the Interpreter, Karen and Kurt “Family Is Bullshit”, Noah Reflections and Conclusions A Road Map with a Destination for Everyone, Susan A. Chiasson Possibility Is God’s Purview, Katie Hays
Katie Hays is the founder and lead evangelist of Galileo Church, a church that "seeks and shelters spiritual refugees," especially young adults and LGBTQ+ people, on the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas. She is also the author of We Were Spiritual Refugees: A Story to Help You Believe in Church.
Susan A. Chiasson is a qualitative researcher who tries to understand, rather than predict, people's beliefs and attitudes. Her work involves a lot of talking to people as she observes them at work or play, in interviews, and in focus groups.
“These stories are of people who paid the price. They sought reconciliation when it would have been easier to walk away. They did the hard work of showing up to love each other well. And they found a church willing to do the hard work with them. If you are moved by a good, redemptive story, you are going to like this book.” — Paula Stone Williams from the foreword
“These narratives speak boldly and carefully about the courage queer folks and their families embody as they discern their way through disclosures and invitations to enter closets and as they invite others to get to know them anew. These relationships are ever-changing and significant as families of origin and choice recognize their beloveds, wrestle with the meaning of their lives together, and become open to transformation. The writers beautifully speak to the pains and the celebrations of queer people whose resilient spirits have much to offer to communities and the world.” — Joretta L. Marshall professor of pastoral theology and care at Brite Divinity School
“Hays and Chiasson have assembled a fascinating and forceful collection of stories from LGBTQ+ Christians about their experiences with kinship and condemnation, love and loss, reconciliation and resilience, and coming out—and coming to terms with one’s queer self. An engaging, well-theorized and well-researched text that calls cis-het Christians to lean in, listen, and believe; a text that will make a marked contribution toward repairing the harms that Christian families, faiths, and fellowships have inflicted (and still inflict) on LGBTQ+ persons.” — Tony E. Adams chair and professor of communication at Bradley University and author of Narrating the Closet
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