Brian G. Murphy is an activist, educator, and certified relationship coach. For the past decade, he has worked within social justice and faith-based activism. He participated in the 2007 Soulforce Equality Ride, co-founded Legalize Trans, and most recently partnered with Fr. Shannon Kearns to create QueerTheology.com. Through his work as a coach and content creator, Brian has helped tens of thousands of LGBTQ+ people claim their sexuality and gender, set healthy boundaries, develop meaningful spiritual practices, and step into an ever-more fulfilling life. All the while spreading the good news of the queer gospel to straight, cisgender Christians as well. Brian has spoken about faith, sexuality, gender and justice at dozens of colleges and conferences across the USA.
Father Shannon TL Kearns is a transgender man whose playwriting is obsessed with big questions told through small stories. He is a playwright, Artistic Director, sometimes actor, speaker, priest, and theologian. He is committed to work by and for marginalized communities, using writing to create a new future for all of us. Father Shannon T.L. Kearns is a seminary graduate (M.Div 2009 from Union Theological Seminary in the city of New York). He is a Priest in the Old Catholic Church. Shannon is the founder and Artistic Director of Uprising Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN. He is the co-founder of QueerTheology.com. He was a Finnovation Fellow in 2019/2020, a Lambda Literary Fellow in 2019, and is a Playwrights’ Center Jerome Fellow for 2020/2021.
When Brian G. Murphy and Fr. Shannon TL Kearns started QueerTheology.com in 2013, the prevailing conversation on LGBTQ issues and Christianity was narrowly focused on ”apologetics” — that is, making the case that ”it’s ok” to be LGBTQ and Christian. Books like Torn by Justin Lee (2012) and God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines (2014) rehashed the same arguments that authors and theologians have been making for decades. Something new was needed. QueerTheology.com set out to make the work of queer theology academics accessible and useful to everyday Christians, both queer and not.
Brian G. Murphy and Fr. Shannon TL Kearns started something new with the conversation at the intersections of LGBTQ lives and Christianity — focusing on the inherent goodness and the unique gifts and blessings of queerness, rather than reacting against what we are not. Together, they’ve started and broken open conversations around purity culture, sex-positivity, queer bodies, transgender theology, the interplay between queer activism and Christian activism, Christianity and polyamory and more. Their message has reached over 1,000,000 people in over 200 countries through their website, podcast, and videos. More than that, it’s inspired a new way to talk about gender, sexuality, and justice by others such as the #FaithfullyLGBT conversation, the Queerology podcast, Queerly Beloved tees, the Our Bible App, and more. They have forever changed the public discourse around queerness and Christianity.
Muhsin Hendricks is an Islamic Scholar with a background in Classical Arabic and Islamic Sciences obtained at the University of Islamic Studies (Jamia-Dirasat Al-Islamiyyah), Karachi Pakistan (1990-1994). Muhsin Hendricks is an Imam (religious leader) by profession and also a human rights activist focusing on sexual orientation & gender identity in Islam. He has done independent research on Islam and sexual diversity; an area that does not often get explored in the Muslim world. He has delivered many training modules on the subject to various organizations internationally.
Muhsin Hendricks also holds a Diploma in Counselling and Communication obtained through the South African College of Applied Psychology and often used his Islamic training in conjunction with his counselling and coaching skills to bring healing to queer Muslims.
He is the founder of Al-Ghurbaah Foundation in Cape Town and the administrator of the Compassion-centred Islam (CCI Network).
His publications include:
- Policy Brief: Islam, Sexual Diversity and Access to Health
- Islamic texts: A source of acceptance for queer individuals into mainstream Muslim society
- Islam & Sexual Diversity: Interrogating heteropatriarchy in Islamic texts
Currently working on his book: From Extremist Exclusion to Radical Inclusion
Elias Sadaq is an award nominated poet and self-published author and activist with a Danish-Moroccan background, raised in Aarhus, Denmark. Elias’s writing has been described as a window into a world where love, culture, sex, religion, and queerness collide. His poetry collection GADESTREGER is about a young man’s struggles in dealing with faith, tradition, and family, while trying to find himself and his own identity in the pursuit of freedom and love. GADESTREGER is an online audio-visual poetry collection that combines performance, prose, and music. The collection is currently being translated to English, scheduled for release this year. Elias also works as an activist and has performed for and contributed to queer organizations, nationally and internationally.
GADESTREGER can be streamed on Spotify, Youtube, AppleMusic and Soundcloud as well as FREE e-book downloaded on the website https://forlagetgadefilosofi.dk/.
Dino Suhonic is executive director of Maruf, queer Muslim organisation in the Netherlands, sociologist and opinion maker. Dino is Bosnian, queer and Muslim. He frequently speaks and writes about queer Muslims, multiple discrimination and intersections of LGBTQI-phobia and islamophobia. He started the first empowerment program for queer Muslims in Netherlands and facilitated different queer Muslim platforms on national and international level. Dino Suhonic also appeared in several Dutch television programs and writes for newspapers like NRC and Volkskrant.
Patrick Tiainen is a former pastor with a history of ministry within the charismatic- and faith movement and personal involvement in reparative therapy. Today, he sees himself as a Christian homosexual, recovering from the attempts to change his sexual orientation. He currently works within the emergency services and practices peer support in and outside the church.
Elina Mäkinen is a student of comparative religion at University of Turku, Finland. She has also studied at Umeå University in Sweden. An LGBTQ+ person raised in somewhat religious surroundings in the context of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, today, she identifies as agnostic and is deeply interested in religions and spirituality, especially in terms of how they intersect with LGBTQ issues. In her MA studies and presentation, Elina focuses on The Church of Sweden, Umeå Rainbow Group.
Lior (aka Jacq) Carver is a long-time LGBTQI+ rights activist and has been working to combat faith-based homophobia and transphobia for the past decade. They are on the board of the Global Interfaith Network and Keshet Ga’avah, the World Congress of GLBT Jews. Lior is a trans masculine Jew currently living in Amsterdam, and is a member of Beit HaChidush, a progressive Amsterdam synagogue.
Robin Paulonen has a master’s degree in Human Rights, with a focus on social responsibility and sustainability for minorities, such as the Christian LGBTQ-community in Sweden. His thesis focused on conservative anti-gender discourses on topics of power and LGBTQ. Robin is on the board of Riksförbundet EKHO (Evangelical Christian groups of LGBTQ-people). His work in EKHO has included developing a mentorship programme for and by Christian LGBTQ-people, helping to create queer spaces in church and leading workshops. Robin will also talk about the process model, a certification program for inclusive congregations, developed by EKHO called Regnbågsnyckeln.
Ilar Gunilla Persson is a photographer and artist. She has a BA in photography from Novia University of Applied Sciences, Jakobstad (Finland). Ilar Gunilla works internationally and in several art constellations. Her artistic work oeuvre can be described as abstract, thunderous landscapes with installations–political, contemporary art, mixed with nature mystique.
Her art concerns itself with politics and with taking a stand for people’s equal value, as in the projects God Love Pride and the project Tvättlina, an interactive project in conjunction with pride festivals in the Nordic countries. For several years Ilar has also been working and touring together with photographer Patricia Rodas (Finland), with a project about women in the Nordic countries (Nordess). Nordess has been exhibited in art galleries and museums around the Nordic region.
Ilar Gunilla was born in a small village in Dalarna in Sweden, around, on one hand, strong stories about trolls and women who lived in the mountains and forests during the summertimes with their cattle, and, on the other hand, the influence of Christianity, and especially the free churches. The small village of about 3000 inhabitants had no less than eight free churches when she grew up there and virtually all her friends, neighbours and relatives were members. But not her parents. Through her father and his friends Ilar Gunilla was enchanted by stories from and about the forests. Looking at her art it is evident how both worlds affected her deeply.
She writes: I love to visualize the feeling of nature and what we maybe don’t see. Abstract landscape and the peaceful nature. That’s one part of my art work. The other part is the knowledge that I can affect people and have an impact through my art: my camera is a tool through which I can challenge and question things in society. Already as a child I saw things in my environments that I couldn’t understand. They said that some people lived in sin. They talked about guilt and disgrace; some people were “good people” and saved and others were damned. Heaven or hell. One friend after another was saved (through faith) while I remained a bystander. Eventually I moved away from the village, met new people with other values. In art school I met people from the LGBTIQ community and it hit me how many people’s coming out stories involved having a background in some religious environment. I felt that these stories need to be told.
Jani Edström is a Baptist Minister in Helsinki and Master of Theology from Åbo Akademi. He is former chair of Frikyrklig Samverkan (The Free Church Federation in Finland) and former General Secretary of the Finnish Ecumenical Council. At present he works part time at the Lutheran Church Centre for Work in Swedish on issues like religious freedom and other human rights. He is former chair of and present board member of the national inter-religious forum (CORE). Edström has raised LGBTIQ+ related issues among the free churches and especially within the Baptist Union.
Saga Lydén is a social worker (Bachelor of Social Sciences) and soon to be social psychologist (Master of Social Sciences) with an Advanced Certificate in Biblical Leadership from Vineyard Institute. Her background is in Evangelical free churches in Finland since 2002. While working on her thesis in social psychology, she has explored the identity negotiations of same sex attracted persons within heteronormative Christian faith communities. Saga is passionate about contributing to the wellbeing, equality and inclusivity of gender and sexual minorities within Finnish churches.
Jan Wilkens is a PhD Candidate at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His research interests include the Jewish LGBTQ+ community, Gender Research, Jewish feminism, commemorative culture in Europe and Israel as well as provenance research. In his master’s thesis, he analyzed the first years of the world’s first gay outreach synagogue, Beth Chayim Chadashim in Los Angeles. Besides his studies, Jan is experienced in the work with human rights organizations and queer culture.
Leena Julin is a Finnish musician. She received her master’s degree at the Sibelius Academy of the University of Arts Helsinki majoring in church music, with an emphasis on composing and choir conducting. She also has a master’s degree in theology and combines both fields to make music that takes a stand or explores human behaviour.
Julin’s most recent piece, besides the hate speech project, Real solidarity, was part of the concert ”Music for Social Justice” in March 2020 in Cleveland, United States, performed by the Cleveland Chamber Choir. A quote from The Schuman Declaration (1950) provides the lyrics for the piece. It is a speech by Robert Schuman, French statesman and a key person in founding and defining European collaboration later forming the EU. It was clear that Schuman’s call for solidarity is not outdated but there’s still a need to repeat it in the world of today.
Monika Pensar is a Finnish-Swedish practitioner of movements rooted in Druidic tree lore and queer theology. She has studied theology, sexology and classical massage and is currently working in daycare. Between 2007 and 2018 she has been engaged in developing a body-friendly rainbow mass in the Helsinki area.
Peik Ingman is a scholar of comparative religion, a project coordinator and professional conflict mediator. As a project coordinator in the Finnish project From burden to resource (Taakasta voimavaraksi) he collaborates with religious and secular organizations and actors in Finland to improve conditions of LGBTIQ+ people with a religious background.
Mariecke van den Berg is a post-doctoral researcher at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, specialized in research on religion, gender and sexuality. She studied Theology and Gender Studies at Utrecht University and did her PhD in Public Administration at the University of Twente. She is a board member of the Dutch Society of Queer Theologians and assistant managing editor of the international journal Religion & Gender.