Creating Affirming Spaces For Queer People in the Church
We speak with Pastor Laura Browder about approaches to creating space for the LGBTQIA+ community within religion. Laura’s lifelong aspiration had always been toward church leadership—until she realized she was gay and felt she was “disqualified” from that future. However, after being directed to a queer-affirming church (New Abbey in Los Angeles), Laura has cemented her drive to create a safe space for the queer community.
She notes that within churches there is a significant difference between being “gay tolerant” and being “gay affirming.” For her, finding an affirming church made all the difference. One key aspect of being an affirming church is having not just queer members, but active queer leadership throughout all levels and as public faces. For her personally, being able to “integrate both [her] faith and [her] sexuality was huge.”
New Abbey’s main intention is to forge a new path outside traditional frameworks and create a safe, inclusive place of worship for all who need it. They aim to challenge the widespread notion that you can’t be both gay and Christian, and provide hope for those who have also felt spiritually disqualified. One way they do this is by offering identity-tailored small groups to help with inclusion and build community (something Laura herself benefitted from soon after joining).
Laura leaves us with this bit of advice: “Do what you can to recognize that there is queer, Christian community out there.”