If We Move Beyond ”Is It Okay to Be LGBTQ+ and Christian?” What Horizons Open Up for Us?

Presentation by Father Shannon TL Kearns and Brian G. Murphy

In this session, the co-founders of QueerTheology.com will share their journey to not only integrate their sexuality/gender identity and spirituality, but to open up new conversations about faith and and queerness. They’ll share stories about the holiness of scars and the transgender body, the early community of Acts and the echoes of AIDS activism, and how the Garden of Eden was found in a park in Maryland. Weaving together personal stories, Scripture, and faith together we’ll explore how to read Scripture through a queer and transgender lens.

Islam, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Workshop by Muhsin Hendricks

The objective of this workshop is to offer a theological argument that will help participants to understand the premise from which judgments against queer people were made in Islamic history and how they can use the same rubric to build an argument for queer people. To reach this objective, I am intending to touch on the following:

  • Queer identities in Islamic history: The case of the Mukhannathun

    This piece of history will give participants some insight into the sexually diverse community that did in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and how he responded to it. Hopefully, this piece of information will be a mirror for how we should engage social diversity.

  • Islam’s primary sources of reference and the influence of hetero-patriarchy in the interpretation of those texts

    Here I would like to convey how Islam’s most sacred texts and Islamic jurisprudence have been influenced by heteropatriarchal thinking and how this thinking has filtered down to the denunciation of homosexuality. When we know how religion gets influenced, we know which parts of it to adopt as divine truth and which parts to accept as scholarly opinion.

  • Qaumu Lut: Putting the story of Prophet Lot and his people into perspective

    This story has always been used as a blanket condemnation for homosexuality. Yet, the story, when it is thoroughly investigated from a Quranic research perspective, does not make any reference to sexual orientation or the innateness of same-sex attraction. I would like to build a case for this and point out the actual reasons for the destruction of Qaumu Lut (Sodom & Gomorrah)

  • Finally, I would like to leave participants with some queer affirming messages from the Quran and Hadith

    These may not have been traditionally used to include queer people. But, then again, it is our responsibility as queer agents of faith to ensure that we queer the Quran so that it remains true to its message of inclusivity and compassion.

Queering Islamic Theology

Lecture by Muhsin Hendricks

Queer liberation theology has little to do with being queer. It is a very new concept and by virtue of it being new, it is considered an innovation by most conservative Muslims. Yet, queer liberation

theology is exactly what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) introduced to oppose the conventional belief system of polytheism, simply for the injustices that manifested as a result of this belief system. When we insist on practicing Islam in a conformist way, we detract from the very essence of the Quran, which allows for questioning and authenticity.

In my talk I will be expanding of this theorem and with support from the Quran and examples from the Sirah (lifestyle and lived experience) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). I will use this rubric to explain how our queer struggle for liberation from marginalization and conformity, is a Quranic injunction.

Facilitating Progress Within the Evangelical Free Churches

Panel discussion with Robin Paulonen, Patrick Tiainen, Jani Edström, Saga Lydén (moderator)

The panelists will be discussing the situation of gender and sexual minorities within the Evangelical free churches (with a particular focus on Finland and Sweden), and ways for facilitating progress and inclusivity. Some of the central themes addressed will be

  • mental and spiritual health
  • the responsibility of church leaders for the wellbeing of gender and sexual minorities in their church
  • sexual orientation change efforts
  • bridging the gap between how these issues are understood inside versus outside the churches

B’tzelem Elohim – In the Divine Image

Workshop by Lior Carver and Jan Wilkens

An exploration of Bereishit 1:26 looking at the various interpretations in various works commenting on it: Torah Queeries: Weekly Commentaries on the Hebrew Bible, Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community, Wrestling With God and Men: Homosexuality in the

Jewish Tradition, Engendering Judaism: An Inclusive Theology and Ethics, The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, and Torah Told Different: Stories for a Pan/Poly/Post-Denominational World.

Managing a Non-heterosexual Orientation in a Heteronormative Church – A Discursive Approach

Presentation by Saga Lydén

This presentation will introduce Saga’s thesis work on the identity negotiations of same sex attracted persons within heteronormative Christian faith communities in Finland. For her study, she interviewed seven people on their views on the relation between gender, sexuality, religious conviction and affiliation with their Christian community. The aim was to shed more light on the ways in which sexual orientation is performed and negotiated within a heteronormative cultural and religious context, while experiencing same sex attraction. The interview material revolved around themes such as theology, social context, stigma, ideological dilemmas, sexual orientation change efforts, and wellbeing. Saga will present her findings applying a discursive approach, highlighting the way in which the interviewees positioned themselves within the discourses they were affected by, but also actively contributed to, or strived to change.

From You Shall Not Lie with a Man to Marriage Equality: Contemporary Perceptions of Homosexuality in Judaism

Presentation by Jan Wilkens

This lecture will address how Jewish denominations today deal with homo-/(bi)sexual and transgender Jews. For a better understanding, the traditional standpoints of the Bible and later rabbinic literature will be presented first. How accepted are Queers in Judaism? Are Jewish same-sex marriages possible? And what do the denominations think about congregational leaders who don’t live in a heterosexual marriage? A short history of gay outreach (or queer) synagogues will complete this introductory lecture into Queer Jewish Studies.

Experiences, Challenges and the Future of the Umeå Rainbow Group of the Church of Sweden

Presentation by Elina Mäkinen

The Umeå Rainbow Group engages both priests and lay-members in facilitating welcoming LGBTQ persons within the Church of Sweden. As part of her MA thesis work, Elina has gathered ethnographic interview data from members of this group. In her presentation, Elina will share preliminary results of her study, adopting the perspective of social movement studies. The aim is to illuminate challenges faced by the Rainbow Group as well as its actions in resisting them. Moreover, this presentation highlights the Rainbow Group’s potential future and the hope kindled from the Group’s experiences within the Church of Sweden in Umeå.

Robin Hooding the Texts: Queer People Taking Back the Texts

Presentation by Lior Carver

For far too long, the foundational texts of most faiths have been under the control of cis-gender men. Many of the texts have been used to justify homophobic and transphobic legislation and criminalise our very existence. They have also been used to exclude queer people from faith communities and deny our humanity.

Exploring and re-interpreting our foundational texts are essential components in our continued emancipation; a thorough understanding of the core texts will give us the tools necessary to challenge homophobic and transphobic interpretations and create prayers, blessings, and rituals that celebrate LGBTQI+ lives.

Lior will present some of the key texts, books, websites, and organisations that will help LGBTQI+ people to ’Robin Hood’ the texts.

Music to Display the Existence and Nature of Hate Speech within the Church

Music video project by Leena Julin

Composer and theologian Leena Julin has collected speeches, comments and feedback said/written in the (ev. luth.) church of Finland regarding sexual and gender minorities. She has then organized these texts into six groups, without adding to or changing the contents. Each set of texts have then been composed to original pieces of ”beautiful church music”. Finally, after the compositions have been recorded, music videos emphasizing the texts to ensure that the audience captures every word were shot at various locations in Finland.

Julin hopes that the contrast between the lyrics and the music would wake people up to realise that horrible things are being said and that hate speech is hate speech – even when religion is used to attempt to justify it.

Watch the videos here

One Queer Body Prayer: Transgressing Through Movement to the Forbidden Androgyny and Sensuality, Leaving Patriarchal Oppressors Behind

Presentation by Monika Pensar

This workshop will partly consist in guiding participants into silence and movement, partly in co-creating a safe space of body prayer movements for broken hearts and flesh. Monika will talk about her work trying to develop a body-friendly rainbow mass in the Helsinki area and invites you to think with her about embodiment and spirituality. Welcome!

Art and Activism: Challenges and Opportunities in Change-making Through Art

Panel discussion with Ilar Gunilla Persson, Leena Julin and Peik Ingman

Photography artist Ilar Gunilla Persson and composer Leena Julin present some of their work and are then joined by Peik Ingman, project coordinator in the project From burden to resource, to talk about practical challenges and experiences in using art to bring about change.

GADESTREGER 

Poetry Presentation by Elias Sadaq

Join prize nominated author and poet Elias Sadaq for a monologue reading of his poetry collection ”STREETLINES” and a conversation of queer muslim poetry as art and activism.

Curing Homesickness among LGBTQ+ Christians in Sweden

Presentation by Robin Paulonen

Robin Paulonen is on the board of EKHO (Evangelical Christian groups of LGBTQ-people) in Sweden. In his presentation, Robin will talk about how EKHO, a non-profit organization, endeavors to implement social responsibility and sustainability among Christians in Sweden towards the (Christian) LGBTQ-community. His work in EKHO has included developing a mentorship program 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 (The Rainbow Key).