Female pastors are leading the way for LGBT+ equality within mainstream Protestant churches across America.
People can feel at times torn between their faith and their sexuality and gender identity due to restrictive beliefs still ingrained in the Church ethos. As part of VICE Magazine’s Borders Issue, this new wave of pastors speak about the importance of creating an open space for queer people to express their faith.
In Ireland and Northern Ireland, the LGBT+ community has faced discrimination at the hands of the Church for many years. By creating an inclusive space for the community, the female pastors are paving the way forward in America and setting a shining example for everyone to follow.
Let’s meet the women changing religion to create a safer place for the LGBT+ community:
Reverend Rhina Ramos
Rumours began to spread of Pastor Ramos’ sexuality following her divorce and subsequently, she stopped attending church services. However, she refused to lose her faith, as she said, “I grew up with a very Catholic grandmother, and the story of Jesus was always very beautiful to me. I couldn’t see it as a thing I was just going to leave behind.”
In 2012, Ramos was ordained as a minister in the UCC with a mission to start Ministerio Latino as a way to help the community. Since then, she has supported queer Latinx Christians, some of whom have been victims of anti-LGBT+ violence and are seeking asylum in the United States.
Ramos has performed baptisms on trans people for their new names. Over her time in the position, she has built a platform to help people live as their true selves and celebrate their diversity.
Reverend Kyndra Frazier
In 2016, Reverend Frazier came out to congregants at First Corinthian Baptist Church. Stepping up to the pulpit, she said, “This is a gift to be present with you all. There was once a time when suicide was better because I could not imagine being openly gay and a pastor.”
Throughout her adolescent years, Reverend Frazier struggled with her sexuality due to the persistent narrative that her queerness was ‘digusting’ and ‘evil’. Speaking about conservative Christian belief, she highlighted how sexuality in women and LGBT+ people “is often seen as a threat and as something to be controlled. You have to be celibate, and if you can’t do that, then you’re bad. There’s something inside that’s sinful.”
At the Hope Center, Reverend Frazier helps people struggling with religious trauma syndrome. She provides support for people who have experienced the same pain she has.
Reverend Frazier said, “I want them, and I want us, to know that there is life beyond the voice that says you’re an abomination.”
Reverend Vicki Flippin
Due to the United Methodist Church stance forbidding same-sex unions, Reverend Flippin refused to marry the first LGBT+ couple who approached her. The encounter left the pastor feeling guilty, as she said, “I knew I couldn’t be a part of this denomination unless I was actively working to change the laws and stance of the church.”
Reverend Flippin is currently a pastor at First and Summerfield UMC in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2016, the highest governing body of the UMC, the General Conference, asked her to deliver a greeting at its quadrennial meeting to establish church policies. However, she was removed because she refused to omit a welcome to LGBT+ attendees in her address.
In February 2019, Reverend Flippin opened the doors to protestors as a special session of the General Conference upheld the UMC’s ban on LGBT+ civil unions and marriages.
Reverend Flippin said, “Every day I have to be brave and not care what people think. Until people get used to you and the idea of you, you just have to wade through and find your inner confidence.”
Through diligent work and care, these female pastors are creating positive alternatives to mainstream religion. Each one has helped to build a more welcome environment within the Church, a space which supports and celebrates the LGBT+ community.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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