As we celebrated some time off of work or school and relished time with our family, adoptive family or friends, some couldn't escape the clutches of being homo for the holidays. More than likely, you were trying to keep your holiday cheer with that sometimes homophobic, less than tolerant, really non-affirming, bible-thumping evangelical, Christian family member. If you visited family, and perhaps sipped a bit more eggnog than usual, there is a gift for the occasion that will speak to the heart.
These are 5 gifts to get your sometimes homophobic Christian family.
Emily Reaves, a straight Christian female blogger and author, recounts her experience from opposition to advocacy. Her best friend came ou,t and it rocked her world. Raised in conservative Christianity, his being gay forced her to question everything she believed about homosexuality, and why. In order to try and find the answers to these questions, Emily spent three years talking to people in the LGBT community, listening to their stories, and experiencing things that challenged and stretched her. The book is surprisingly really funny, completely entertaining, intentionally honest, and has numerous wow moments. This is the best book I've read from an Christian ally's perspective, and it's a must have for the gay Christian world.
Winner of 2010 Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year Award winner, Leadership Book Award winner Relevant Magazine, Top 20 Best Overall Books of 2009 by Englewood Review of Books, and numerous other awards, Andrew Marin's life changed forever when his three best friends came out to him in three consecutive months (funny how the ally paradigm shifts when it becomes relational huh?). The book shares how to successfully have a bridge-building, peaceful, reconciliatory conversation with someone in a conservative Christian community. Reframing the dialogue, Marin doesn't speak to the theology behind homosexuality, as interpreted in modern day scripture, but works within the current theological framework -- where LGBT people should be loved like brothers, sisters and those who have yet to decide -- to show we can dialogue, love and accept regardless of our pre-existing theological worldview. An ally himself, Andrew Marin is the Executive Director of the Marin Foundation, and has dedicated over a decade of his life to advocating for LGBT people.
If you want to dive in to some of the theology behind homosexuality as interpreted in modern day scriptures -- this is the book for you! James Brownson provides the best "pro-gay" theological argument I have seen in this field. Completely reframing this dialogue, Brownson starts with gender, patriarchy and gender complimentarily, to change the basis on how we interpret those "six verses". What many theologians are calling a "game-changer," this book just came out this year, and has yet to receive the worthy praise it deserves. This book is a must for those who want to have intellectual, academic arguments for same-sex relationships.
Justin Lee is a Gay Christian that could be considered a pioneer in this generation, advocating in church's for LGBT folk. As a teenager and young man, Justin Lee felt deeply torn. Nicknamed "God Boy" by his peers, he knew that he was called to a life in the evangelical Christian ministry. But Lee harbored a secret: He also knew that he was gay. In this groundbreaking book, Lee recalls the events -- his coming out to his parents, his experiences with the "ex-gay" movement, and his in-depth study of the Bible -- that led him, eventually, to self-acceptance. Justin is the Executive Director of The Gay Christian Network, which has a fantastic conference that I'll be attending in January 2014.
Being queer and Seventh-day Adventist, this film has had the biggest affect in my life, and in the lives of my conservative loved ones. If I may call myself their biggest fan, I've seen this film more than any other person besides the director and producer themselves (which are this absolutely fantastic straight family of three) attending screenings in nine different states. Following the lives of three gay couples, in the extremely tight-knit, and conservative community of the Seventh-day Adventist church, this film shares the stories of the gay couples and shows the affects of religious homophobia. I had such a pivotal moment of healing at one of the screenings -- there was this one time when a redneck loved a queer.
I've read, watched, experienced and met every single one of these people behind these five incredible projects. Each of them has dedicated their lives completely to advocating for LGBT inclusion in churches, and conservative Christian communities. Whether you were homo for the holidays, or were alone with your holi-gays, I do hope your experience was one of inclusion, love and grace. Education is key, and when the main contention point in this entire conversation is religion, it's good to put these gifts in your shopping list! Whether you buy one, none, or all of the gifts, engaging on this level can change hearts and minds.