Integrating Faith and Your LGBTQ Identity

Integrating Faith and Your LGBTQ Identity:

It Doesn’t Have to Be Either/Or

“My faith is a choice.

My morality is a choice.

My sexual orientation however isn’t.”
― Anthony Venn-Brown

by Gavin Hannegan, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo undergraduate intern, supervised by Dr. Hannah Roberts

Religion and sexuality are two identities that are often viewed as incompatible, but they do not have to be. Who we love and what we believe in are important aspects of who we are; sacrificing one over the other prevents us from living as authentically as possible. Religion and sexuality are also very sensitive topics. It can feel scary to talk about integrating your faith and your LGBTQ identity freely. It can feel even scarier to think about them in the same context. With this post, I hope to ease some of these tensions and recommend ways to bring these identities into harmony.

#1: Recognize That Queerness and Faith Can Be Complementary

If a total integration of faith and your LGBTQ identity seems too daunting at first, try finding small ways to incorporate one of these identities with the other. In one study, religious LGBTQ+ individuals reported that finding themes of unconditional love from their religions helped them feel more accepting of their queer identities (Rosenkrantz et al., 2016). The same study also found that people were encouraged to explore and personalize their relationship with their religion after reflecting on their unique experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (Rosenkrantz et al., 2016). These strategies can help you learn to love each of these identities individually and will make the integration process feel much smoother.

#2: Reread Your Religion’s Scripture

Some of the passages from religious texts that are considered anti-LGBTQ+ may be misinterpreted. The culture of today does not always align with that of the authors of such texts, and the meanings of certain words or phrases may have shifted over time. Such sentiments may also be intertwined with specific political views and agendas (Worthen et al., 2017). Feel free to come up with your own interpretation of these texts to best fit your own unique circumstances. Or talk with local religious leaders or members of the community to hear their perspectives on passages of interest. 

#3: Look for LGBTQ-Affirming Places of Worship

More and more religious organizations have expressed their commitment to LGBTQ equality and have opened their doors to people of all backgrounds. Unfortunately, there are still some groups that are more ambiguous or are even outwardly against expressions of queerness. Take some time to research local places of worship and find a place where you would feel accepted and safe integrating faith and your LGBTQ identity. Examples of affirming places of worship in SLO County include the United Church of Christ, Saint Barnabas’ Episcopal Church, and Congregation Beth David. has also compiled a directory of all LGBTQ+ affirming churches in the world. These spaces are also useful for connecting you with your LGBTQ+ religious peers, who can help guide your identity development (Fuist, 2016).

#4: Integrate Your Identities at Your Own Pace

There are many different ways to live as both a queer person and a person of faith (Fuist, 2016). Some people may feel comfortable speaking about their experience as a queer person in a religious setting (or vice versa) to inspire openness and acceptance among others. Some people might only feel comfortable treating faith and queerness as separate hats to wear. Other people still might treat their religion as a personal experience and may not attend places of worship. How you choose to experience your identities is entirely up to you, but allow yourself the opportunity and the grace to explore these identities together.

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Fuist, T. N. (2016). “It just always seemed like it wasn’t a big deal, yet I know for some people they really struggle with it”: LGBT religious identities in context. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 55(4), 770-786.

Rosenkrantz, D. E., Rostosky, S. S., Riggle, E. D. B., & Cook, J. R. (2016). The positive aspects of intersecting religious/spiritual and LGBTQ identities. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 3(2), 127-138.

Worthen, M. G. F., Lingiardi, V., & Caristo, C. (2017). The roles of politics, feminism, and religion in attitudes toward LGBT individuals: A cross-cultural study of college students in the USA, Italy, and Spain. Sexuality Research and Social Policy, 14, 241-258.


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