Our podcast interview mini-series has come to an end and we had a blast sharing some listener stories with you. More’s coming (hopefully) if we can get the support we need over on Patreon.
In this episode, Fr. Shay and Brian share some 2020 plans for Queer Theology, respond to a reader asking if it’s ok to lie, talk about self-care around unaffirming families (especially during the holidays), and give a sneak peek of what’s to come on the podcast in December and in the new year.
Brian: Welcome to the Queer Theology podcast!
Fr. Shay: Where each episode, we take a queer look at the week’s lectionary readings. We’re the co-founders of QueerTheology.com and the hosts for this podcast. I’m Father Shay Kearns
B: And I’m Brian G. Murphy.
Hello, hello, hello and welcome back to the Queer Theology podcast. It’s been a fun month here at the Queer Theology podcast. The past few weeks we’ve been featuring some interviews with listeners and Sanctuary Collective members and it’s been fun to hear some of those stories and share them with you. We had Indigo, Caryn and Brandon. If you missed those episodes, you can always head on over to queertheology.com/listen to check them out. So we’re done with the interviews for a while. We’re hoping that in the next year we can do more of these and with a wide range of folks. We are interested in doing a series with activists, a series with musicians, a series with parents, a series on sex and relationships, and just extending the episodes so that we can share more stories. The Bible is fun, but we’ve been talking about the Bible for six years, and so we want to add some more of you into these episodes. So with that, you’d probably know that we are in the midst of a bit Patreon push. The podcast, past 300 episodes a few weeks ago and we’re trying to make this work a little bit more sustainable, so we wanted to give you a quick update on that before diving into a listener email and talking about self-care as the winter holidays approach. To share some plans for what to look forward to on the podcast in December. So Shay, can you give us a little update on where things are with Patreon and remind folks why we are doing this.
FS: Yeah! It’s been so amazing to see the response to our Patreon push already. So our goal was to raise $25000 a month in pledges in order to make this work sustainable. As Brian said, we’ve been doing this for six years. We figured that we make about an average of $2/hour for all of the work that we do which is creating tons and tons of free resources and doing lots and lots of pastoral counseling. We’ve figured out that we’ve answered over 20,000 emails since we started the website which is just wild. And so, we’ve really come to the realization that this work is not sustainable at that $2 an hour thing. So we wanted to see if our community was interested in supporting the work and helping make it sustainable for the long haul. It looks the answer is yes or at least for some of you which is really fantastic. We are up to just under $500 a month pledged on Patreon which is huge. It’s not even close to our goal at this point, so we’re still trying to figure out what that looks like moving forward. So if you’re interested in joining those pledges, you can go to patreon.com/queertheology. We have so many plans and so much more that we want to be able to do, but we just can’t do it at this point unless we have some help. I know Brian, for you, this is even a more scary time because you got laid off from your job.
B: Yeah, I sure did. A few months ago, I got laid off from my full-time job and so the entire time that QueerTheology.com has existed, I’ve had a full-time job that pays me to exist. Sometimes it pays me for things for QueerTheology when we wanted to do something new and there isn’t enough money for it. Like Shay and I have dipped into our own personal savings to make this work happen. So it’s a little bit scary now to not have that in and obviously, $2/hour is not enough to live off of anywhere in the country. So yeah, as I look forward to next year, I really want to have the time to continue dedicating myself to QueerTheology.com, but also have to be staring reality in the face and recognizing that I might have to scale back or reevaluate what that looks like if I have to spend more time looking for work or spend more time on freelance work. So I would like to keep doing this work and having your support would help do that. I know that $25000/month might seem like a huge number, but actually running this project is quite costly. Our podcast hosting is $30/month, our website hosting is $30/month, our email — just to send out emails to y’all, is $200/month because there’s so many folks coming. Our web host keeps yelling at us to up our plan because the website is getting a lot of traffic, a lot of folks are visiting it. So it costs a lot of money just to keep this up and running. Plus, there are two of us, so we divide everything by two. So that’s how we end up at $2/hour. We would love to continue hosting webinars, and the podcast, and the articles, and the videos, and do even more into the New Year. But we need some help to keep this rolling along. So like Shay said, if you could help us out at patreon.com/queertheology it would mean so so so much to us.
FS: We know that some folks have said, “Well, you guys charge for courses and for Sanctuary Collective. Why do you need this other money on top of that?” The reality is that the money that we charge for the courses and for Sanctuary Collective is literally what we need to keep those things going. So this is on top of that. We’re not trying to get rich off of our work with Queer Theology. We’re really just trying to make it sustainable and honestly, be able to devote more time to it. We love this work. We love this community. We think it’s vital. We hear from people all the time how much it means to them and we just want to be able to continue doing it and be able to put food on the table.
B: Pay my rent and get health insurance. Things like that.
FS: In talking about plans for next year, we’ve got a whole bunch of ideas for courses that we want to roll out. We are going to do this reading the Bible through a queer lens course that we’ve been promising forever. It will happen in 2020. We’re super excited about that. We’re also going to do a sex and relationships course for folks who are trying to figure out what does it look like to create a healthy sexual ethic for yourself. How do you navigate things like dating as a queer Christian? And especially for those us who grew up in purity culture, who are unpacking things like shame and desire, and all of that. We want to dive into all of that with you and help you figure that out through the things that we’ve learned. Through the things that we’re going to uncover together. We’re going to have some more resources around polyamory and Christianity because that conversation is just blowing up. It’s everywhere. People are really wanting to have it and so we’re definitely going to do that. Lots of big plans for next year and we are super excited to be doing all of these with you.
B: Yeah and if these topics seem interesting to you, but you don’t have the time and the money to commit to a full course on that. We will also be sending some higher-level resources around each of those. You can head on over to queertheology.com/courses to indicate your interest in any of the courses we’ve talked about. We will make sure that you get all of the free resources and are the first to hear about registration about the more in-depth course.
Another thing that you can do to help us, is if this podcast is meaningful to you, we would cherish a review from you on iTunes, or Stitcher or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Here is an example of a review that we got recently that might get your gears turning and you can leave whatever speaks to you over there.
“So, so grateful for the @queertheology community, and the social justice lens @shannontlkearns and @thisisbgm meet the Bible with. It’s a gospel full of good news, and hope in troubled times. Most importantly, their interpretations of biblical text not only leave any one out, but preach the belief that we are all in this together. They’ve helped me find a God I can believe in.”
Every now and then, we get some reviews that are from anti-LGBTQ Christians that leave us 1-star reviews. So by going on there and leaving a good review or a thoughtful, honest review what you experience in this podcast, will help the algorithm and also help folks that may be considering listening to this podcast get a sense of what they can expect here. So if you can leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts: iTunes, Stitcher, wherever it is, that would be super helpful.
FS: One of the things that we’re interested in doing more of in the podcast that we’re starting with today is: tackling some listener/reader emails. We get lots of people that write in and ask questions. Sometimes that are really specific to their own experience, but also sometimes, that while specific to their experience highlight things that I think a lot of us have dealt with or are dealing with. So we got this email, we’re going to read parts of it and tackle the questions that are in it.
Lately, my mom has been asking me about my sexuality/gender.
The last time I tried to come out to her, she said people like me were causing all the world’s problems, I was going to hell, I had turned my back on God, etc. Maybe I’m too sensitive, I don’t know. But my religion is very important to me, and being told I wasn’t good enough made me feel so terrible about who I was. Now that she is asking, I have been lying.
I feel terrible for lying, because I was taught not to. But I want to be able to get through high school and then be independent, and go to college and become a pastor.
But I need to know if I ought to stop lying.
Please, can someone tell me how to handle this?
B: So we responded to this directly, but also thought that this might apply to some of the folks listening, whether you’re in this specific situation or can understand or have a similar experience in your life. There are really two questions that this person is asking.
- Do I have to come out?
- Is it okay that I’m lying?
I think the TLDR is no and yes. So we will dive into that a little bit more right now.
Coming out, I think understandably, has a prominent place in LGBTQ culture. There’s something really liberating about coming out. It makes finding other queer folks easier: you can find community, and in being around queer folks, and openly expressing your queerness. You are able to find yourself in a new and beautiful way. My hope is that for everyone who wants to come out is able to come out. Also, sometimes there are very practical reasons why coming out just doesn’t make sense, maybe ever or right now. That could be because you are a minor and you’re parents could punish you, could send you away to a boarding school in another state, could send you to live with relatives, could force you to go to therapy. If you are an adult but are dependent upon them financially either for college or you’re unemployed and you are living with them and they might cut off their financial assistance to you. So all those reasons are reasons why coming out might not be right for you, right now. If you are a trans person who has come out and transitioned and is now living a life that feels authentic in the gender that feels authentic. You might just not want to be seen as trans, but want to be seen as the gender that you truly are. So that’s another reason why you might stop coming out. That is my thought on if you have to come out. I think the answer is, it can be this really great thing, but not something that you should feel forced or pressured to do if you’re not ready or it’s unsafe for you.
What about you Shay, what do you think?
FS: You know, I think coming out is really important, from my own experience it wasn’t until I was able to come out that I was really able to unpack a lot of things and move towards health. Also, one of the reasons why I waited so long to come out was because it wasn’t safe for me to do so. That I was living with family, I was financially dependent on them, and they were not affirming. So you have to measure always, your own safety with the situation that you are in and make sure that when you’re ready to come out, whatever that looks like, that you are doing so because you feel confident, because you feel ready, because you’re prepared, because you’ve got a plan in place. All of those different things. And it sucks to have to say, have a plan in place, but that’s the reality of the world that a lot of us have lived in. So it’s just really important that we take care of ourselves. I think that to me also, is my answer to this question: Is it ok that I’m lying? I think sometimes we have to do things in order to protect ourselves and if that means that when your mom asks you a direct question, you lie.
Is that a bad thing? I don’t know. Maybe? But it’s also a necessary thing, right?
B: And it’s bad that the badness also comes from your mother’s potential reaction to that and the shame, or the abuse, or the misunderstanding, or the judgment that would come from her. If there’s a division there, she’s creating it just as much, or even more so than you are.
FS: Right! For sure! I think that the reality is that if she’s asking those questions in order to pick a fight, right? That’s also part of the problem.
FS: This is not a question that’s being asked with equal footing or with real intent for connection. I think sometimes we have to do, as queer folks, as marginalized folks we do whatever we need to do to get through the day, so long as it’s not hurting anyone else. Sometimes that means lying to protect ourselves, sometimes that means cutting ties with family members when we can, sometimes that means setting really hard boundaries, and all of that stuff. I think it’s really important that we let ourselves off the hook and are gentle with ourselves for the things that we need to do to survive and get through.
B: Yeah, you and I both know first hand the pain, and drama, and struggle that comes from families that are not accepting of us. And so we packaged all of our years of angst and experience navigating all of that into some resources around Navigating Self Care Around Unaffirming Family. Specifically for LGBTQ Christians, we put together this three-part video series that also has some workbooks that go along with it to help you just take better care of yourself. Wherever you are, if you have family, or friends, or part of a church community that doesn’t fully accept you, this mini video series will help you figure out how you’re feeling, how you want to be feeling, get started on setting boundaries and give you some really practical tactics to just take better care of yourself. So you can get that for free at queertheology.com/selfcare.
So as we look to December, advent is coming up, Christmas is coming up. As we’ve said, we’ve been doing this Patreon push to get some additional funding and to make this work more sustainable. So we’re going to sort of be taking a break from the podcast for December to regroup and get ready for the New Year. But we won’t be going away, don’t worry. Shay has gone through and picked out some of our most popular and most favorite advent December themed episodes back from our archives. So unless you’ve been listening to that podcast every week for the past six years and have an audio graphic memory, these will likely be new to you. Even though they are technically some vintage episodes. So that’s what’s coming over the next few weeks, into the New Year. Then, behind the scenes, we’re going to be working on making the site easier to navigate. We’ve heard from you that when you do find stuff, it’s been super helpful but it’s not always the easiest to find what you’re looking for. I think that’s because we started six years ago with just a one-page website and we’ve just been adding and adding resources over the years. It’s this amazing collection of resources now, but also maybe a little bit unruly. So we’re going to try and take December to tame that beast.
FS: Yes! So we are super excited to revisit some of these episodes with you. We hope that they help you to have a blessed Advent and prepare for your Christmas season. Also, give us a little time to breathe and to break. So we are super grateful to be in community with you. We’re so grateful for all of the ways that you have supported us so far, and continue to support us. We can’t wait to dive back into the lectionary with you in the New Year.
B: See you next week!
[outro music plays]
B: The Queer Theology podcast is just one of many things that we do at QueerTheology.com which provides resources, community, and inspiration for LGBTQ Christians and straight cisgender supporters.
FS: To dive into more of the action, visit us at QueerTheology.com. You can also connect with us online: on Facebook, Tumbler, Twitter, and Instagram.
B: We’ll see you next week.
Today’s episode highlights:
- Do I need to come out? Is it okay to just lie?
- Living within and feeling safe in an unaffirming family
- Resource: Navigating around unaffirming families here
- Podcast plans for the holidays
- Website revamp
We had such a great time doing interviews of some Sanctuary Collective members and we’d like to continue doing this. We want to even extend these interviews and bring in more and more guests.
Aside from these podcasts, we want to continue providing informative and helpful content that is vital to a lot of queer folks. We are so excited to do so many things next year: launch more courses and resources, do longer podcasts, and publish informative articles. BUT we definitely need your help.
If in any way, these resources have been helpful to you, we would appreciate it if you visit and support us over at patreon.com/queertheology.
Photo by Ben White