A queer-inclusive message for LGBTQ+ Christians this Christmas

Christmas can be a difficult time for LGBTQ+ folk, let alone queer Christians. Rejection, deadnaming and not having relationships recognised by family and church communities are just some of the issues they can face at this time of year.

In 2021, research carried out by PinkNews – as part of our All I Want For Christmas Is To Be Myself campaign – found that a shocking 82 per cent of readers said they have to hide their LGBTQ+ identities during the Christmas period. A further 10 per cent said they planned to spend the holiday period alone.

This year has been particularly tough for queer people who hold religion close to their heart, mainly because of the intense debates within the Church of England over whether it will bless same-sex relationships.

In response, we reached out to Anglican priest Sarah Jones, the vicar at St John The Baptist city parish church, in Cardiff, and an honorary canon of Llandaff Cathedral, to write a special queer-inclusive Christmas message for LGBTQ+ people.

Jones was ordained in 2004 and was the first person to have transitioned to then be recommended for training for ordination by the Church of England.

“Christmas can be especially difficult for LGBTQIA+ folks. Some of us have been rejected by our families because of our sexuality or our gender; others have to hide their queerness or tone it down or leave their partners and friends out of family settings. 

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“I am a happy member of the LGBTQIA+ community. I am also a transgender Anglican priest. 

“I’m sad to say that the Christian church is not known as a beacon of inclusivity and diversity. Folks argue whether women can be priests and of course there’s no guarantee of a warm welcome to anyone who isn’t strictly heterosexual or for anyone who blurs the gender lines.

“I meet many people who feel that they would not be welcome in church at Christmas. The Christmas message seems to be  ‘Good news for all – but not for you!’

“Sadly, there are churches where this is true. They’d say that you are welcome but we all need to reject our sin. . . and yours is your sexuality or your gender expression. Come on in and stop being queer.

“However churches can be more LGBTQIA+ friendly than you think. There are queer folks in many congregations. There are queer clergy and queer musicians.

“If you are feeling excluded or wondering whether you would be welcome, here are a few tips which I hope might be helpful.

  • Jesus loved the marginalised and taught that everyone has the same dignity as a child of God. If a church does not welcome you, you are being rejected by humans, not God. God still loves you.
  • The bible is a queer book. The rich and powerful are overturned and the downcast are lifted up. There is gender non-conformity; Deborah is a strong woman and the only female judge (Judges 4,5); there are plenty of eunuchs (e.g Acts 8) and many people argue that the love between King David and Jonathan (Samuel 18-20) is much more than friendship. Queer lives are represented in the bible, though many straight people fail to see us!
  • The Church of England has agreed to bless same sex couples. The Church in Wales has been doing this for a while. The Methodists, the United Reformed Church and the Quakers were doing it before us. Last week the Pope declared that Roman Catholic priests could bless same sex couples! 

“So please don’t feel shut out. You are welcome. Go where you are wanted and loved. And if you really want to treat yourself check out Jay Hulme’s poem ‘Jesus at the Gay Bar’.”

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