On Tuesday February 21, the Interfaith House hosted an event in partnership with the Queer and Ally House called Sacred Queerness. The event and its speaker, School of Theology middler Alane Osborne, intended to provide space for and aid in discussion of the intersectionality of queer identity and faith or ethical tradition.
The event organizers, mainly residents of the Q&A and Interfaith houses, made it very clear that the space presented was intended to help prosper the growth of such discussions, and it was not geared toward any group in particular. A large part of the event was breaking off into smaller groups to introduce ourselves and discuss our identities. This could have meant our sexualities, our gender identities, or hobbies that helped to inform who we were, like biking or writing!
Later, we discussed the intersections of our own identities, and other outside forces that inevitably factored into who we are. For many, those forces may have been being queer and growing up in the south, or in a Christian household, or maybe it was the era in which we were born all together that may have aided or stifled the formation of one’s identity.
While short, these discussions were very interesting, calm, and genuine. The room was full of good vibes and stories, each one different from the last.
The most prominent part of the event was when Osborne discussed how, as a mother with young children, she is watching as her children and much of the younger generation is growing up in an environment very unlike our own. Her children are discovering and playing around with ideas like pronouns and gender identities. As the parent, she also discussed discovering her own biases toward discussing these topics. Interestly, Osborne said that that dealing with these topics from the viewpoint of the parent was very different from how she dealt with them herself, allowing her to discover biases which many of us had otherwise never considered. “I realized at that point that I considered myself very accepting of others, but as a parent I held a lot of fear for my child just because of where our world is,” she said, “and stats about suicide rates…and all of the prejudices that my child would face, and my four-year-old didn’t know any of that as they’re making this decision.”
She went on to talk about how noticeable it became that only he/him pronouns were being used in Episcopal church to refer to God. Osborne said that “hearing [he/him] everyday, had made me internalize God as male. And how instead, using these non-binary terms has opened my mind to the fact that God doesn’t have to have gender.”
Osborne also emphasized how grappling with the wording in the Bible had helped her to understand gender as a spectrum. Osborne described a reading of the Bible where it stated “there were young people there and there were old people there” but what it meant was that all people were there. “So they just take the two ends [of the spectrum] to describe everyone.” She explained further that, by extension, when the first Genesis story says “‘when God created Male and Female,’ [the quote] could just be naming the two extremes, but really mean everything in between.”
The Sacred Queerness event was the first of two, and the next event is on March 7, so please consider attending! Overall, this event was a really interesting experience and I would recommend anyone to go if they want to learn something new.