One of the last memories I have of church growing up is not going. Suddenly, after years of mastering my routine of sitting on the couch, crying and begging my parents not to make me go to church or catechism, we stopped. For years I never knew why and didn’t bother to ask.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when my mom told me that the reason why we stopped going to our church in St. Vital is because they passed around a petition against same-sex marriage. This was well before I was out—a testament to the fact that not everyone who’s faithful is homophobic.
In February, my girlfriend and I were in St. Paul, MN walking by a bar when we heard this amazing band. We stopped, listened and had to go inside. We sat down and a guy named Mark came up to us to make casual conversation. We asked him the name of the band and he said they were a church group that practised at the bar every Sunday and later played at the church service, which would also be at the bar.
Curious to see what a church service in a bar with a great band would be like, we stayed. It turned out that Mark was the minister. When the service began, he stood at a podium and told us a story. A recent father, he talked about what it would be like to have unrealistic expectations of his newborn daughter. For example, he said, it would be unrealistic for him to expect his daughter to do his taxes, make him food and clean up. Same goes for the Bible. He said that it’s unrealistic for people to read the ancient text and expect it to mean the same thing today that it did decades ago. In that moment, for the first time, I felt like the church wasn’t against me—a sentiment that has stuck with me since.
From protests at funerals to conversion therapy, the church has been a nightmare for GLBT* people. It’s no wonder that religious and queer
communities are divided. But are they still? And should they still be?
As local freelance writer Alana Trachenko shows you later in this issue, the two communities that have historically been at war with each other are starting to reconcile. Some local church leaders, such as Pat Stewart from St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, are even leading important GLBT* resources in our province.
The rise of affirmative churches is a good sign—it means that more and more, GLBT* people can be themselves in a welcoming space that provides tons of benefits, including face-to-face contact, hope and in the case of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, housing. When we consider how many GLBT* people face loneliness, mental illnesses and homelessness, a welcoming faithful community might actually do them some good.
Being out at church is just one way our community has evolved. Elsewhere in this issue, OutWords catches up with several people to
get a pulse of what it means to Manitoba’s GLBT* people to be proud today.
Along with our community, OutWords is also evolving. We’ve been asking our readers for feedback and found out that although we have roots as a loud, proud and political publication, that’s not necessarily what our readers want today.
After much thought, we’ve decided to make OutWords a quarterly magazine focusing on Manitoba’s GLBT* lifestyle and entertainment.
We’re always interested in your feedback. If you have comments on the magazine, email them to editor@ outwords.ca. We’re also always looking for new interview subjects and writers.
Stay proud, Manitoba.