Students connect religion with LGBTQ identity

Students connect religion with LGBTQ identity

Natalie Valdes

The intersection between faith, spirituality and gender can sometimes be hard to grapple with Unbounded Wholeness allows LGBTQ students embedded in their faith to discuss their experiences.

One of the LGBTQ Center’s five discussion groups, Unbounded Wholeness, creates a safe space for students to discuss the intersections between faith, sexuality and gender.

“Each discussion group is designed to be a specific safe discussion space for students that identify with the topic or the community we are talking about,” said LGBTQ Center program coordinator Kayla Lisenby.

Increased from only two discussion groups to five, the LGBTQ Center discussion groups aim to offer a community to students of different identities. Each discussion group creates a safe, positive space for students to share their experiences with other students of similar identities.

These discussion groups include Bi the Way for students who identify as bisexual, pansexual, queer or fluid, QWake for LGBTQ students at any point in the coming out process, In the Life for LGBTQ students of color, and Trans/Action for trans and gender non-conforming students and those questioning their gender.

All discussion groups aim to aid students by allowing them to discuss issues and experiences with trained facilitators and other students. These discussions also give students the opportunity to be vulnerable in an affirming space.

Each group allows individuals of the different communities to share their experiences with other undergraduate and graduate students. The discussion groups are held monthly and will continue into next semester.

All discussion groups vary by topic each month, and are held in the LGBTQ Center located in Benson 311. Specific discussion group dates can be found on the LGBTQ Center’s website.

Unbounded Wholeness is geared towards interfaith LGBTQ identified students. Facilitated by Kevin Garrity and Amanda Kerr, these discussions allow students to speak to other graduate and undergraduate students about their experiences without fear of judgement.

“Unbounded Wholeness is an innovative space for people to come together and reckon with all parts of their identity in a faith or non faith based setting,” Garrity said.

Introduced in fall of 2015, the group aims to help students discuss intersections that are often not spoken of in faith settings. The last group meeting touched on the gender constructs within Hispanic culture.

Discussion topics have varied throughout the semester and once touched upon what Unbounded Wholeness means. “It depends on each individual,” said sophomore Dani Benitez.

Benitez, who began attending Unbounded Wholeness last year, values the intellectual conversations about religion that they are able to have in the space that are not always welcome in faith based settings.

Through Unbounded Wholeness, students are given a space where the common negative association between the intersection of faith, gender and sexuality can be discussed and redefined.

Unbounded Wholeness is an interfaith group, and next semester will focus on more world religions and how gender and sexuality are portrayed within other religions. These discussions will focus mainly on how the sacred texts of the religions discuss gender and sexuality and how the religion views them.

“Unbounded Wholeness helped me find a community where I can talk about being queer and my religion because a lot of times it’s one or the other” Benitez said.