For Pride month, I’m highlighting a few books by LGBTQ+ authors about faith, spirituality, and human thriving. Add them to your reading list or gift them to a friend!
Worth It by Brit Barron
Brit Barron grew up in an Evangelical megachurch in the ’90s, trying to fit neatly inside the boundaries her church and its narrow view of God had placed around her. She was boxed in by her fears, unable to realize her full potential. All that changed when she met a girl named Sami, fell in love, and chose to leave behind those narrow boundaries in favor of a fuller and more vibrant life.
In Worth It, Brit tells her story to inspire all of us to overcome our own fears–the kinds of fears that keep us from evolving beyond the narratives that have been handed to us by others. We can’t avoid or outrun these fears, but if we face them, we’ll find out that it was so worth it!
One Coin Found by Emmy Kegler
Emmy Kegler has a complicated relationship with the Bible. As a queer woman who grew up in the church, she knows too well how Scripture can be used to wound and exclude. And yet, the stories of Scripture continued to captivate her. So she set out to fall in love with the Bible, wrestling with the stories inside. Kegler shows us that even when we feel like lost and dusty coins, God picks up a broom and sweeps every corner of creation to find us.
United States of Grace by Lenny Duncan
Today Duncan, who inspired and challenged audiences with his breakout first book, Dear Church, brings us a deeply personal story about growing up Black and queer in the U.S. In his characteristically powerful voice he recounts hitchhiking across the country, spending time in solitary confinement, battling for sobriety, and discovering a deep faith, examining pressing issues like poverty, mass incarceration, white supremacy, and LGBTQ inclusion through an intimate portrayal of his life’s struggles and joys. United States of Grace is a love story about America, revealing the joy and resilience of those places in this country many call “the margins” but that Lenny Duncan has called home. This book makes the bold claim that God is present with us in the most difficult of circumstances, bringing life out of death.
In 1991, when he was 13 years old, Lenny Duncan stepped out of his house in West Philadelphia, walked to the Greyhound station, and bought a ticket–the start of his great American adventure.
#ChurchToo by Emily Joy Allison
When Emily Joy Allison outed her abuser on Twitter, she launched #ChurchToo, a movement to expose the culture of sexual abuse and assault utterly rampant in Christian churches in America. Not a single denomination is unaffected. And the reasons are somewhat different than those you might find in the #MeToo stories coming out of Hollywood or Washington. While patriarchy and misogyny are problems everywhere, they take on a particularly pernicious form in Christian churches where those with power have been insisting, since many decades before #MeToo, that this sexually dysfunctional environment is, in fact, exactly how God wants it to be.
#ChurchToo turns over the rocks of the church’s sexual dysfunction, revealing just what makes sexualized violence in religious contexts both ubiquitous and uniquely traumatizing. It also lays the groundwork for not one but many paths of healing from a religious culture of sexual shame, secrecy, and control, and for survivors of abuse to live full, free, healthy lives.
Beyond Shame by Matthias Roberts
We all carry sexual shame. Whether we grew up in the repressive purity culture of American evangelical Christianity or not, we’ve all been taught in subtle and not-so-subtle ways that sex (outside of very specific contexts) is immoral and taboo. Psychotherapist Matthias Roberts helps readers overcome their shame around sex by overcoming three unhealthy coping mechanisms we use to manage that shame.
Beyond Shame encourages each of us to determine our own definition of healthy sex, while avoiding the ditches of boundaryless sex positivity on the one hand and strict moralistic boundaries on the other. Define your sexual values on your own terms, overcome your shame, and start having great, healthy sex.
Welcoming and Affirming by Leigh Finke
Welcoming and Affirming: A Guide to Supporting and Working with LGBTQ+ Christian Youth is a handbook for pastors, youth workers, church leaders, educators, and other adults in Christian settings. The book provides answers to the most pressing questions about sexuality, gender, mental health, safe sex, and more.
Written by a team of LGBTQ+ adults, Welcoming and Affirming features first-hand, personal testimonials from queer young adults who have experienced the joys and hardships of being queer and Christian. You’ll walk away with a lot of insight, prepared to love, affirm, and accept the LGBTQ+ teens in your community the way God does–exactly as they are.
Outside the Lines by Mihee Kim-Kort
Mihee Kim-Kort is a wife, a mom, and a Presbyterian minister. And she’s queer. As she became aware of her queer sexuality, Mihee wondered what that meant for her spirituality. But instead of pushing her away from God, her queerness has brought her closer to Jesus and taught her how to love better.
In Outside the Lines, Mihee shows us how God, in Jesus, is oriented toward us in a queer and radical way. Through the life, work, and witness of Jesus, we see a God who loves us with a queer love. And our faith in that God becomes a queer spirituality–a spirituality that crashes through definitions and moves us outside of the categories of our making. Whenever we love ourselves and our neighbors with the boundary-breaking love of God, we live out this queer spirituality in the world.
With a captivating mix of personal story and biblical analysis, Outside the Lines shows us how each of our bodies fits into the body of Christ. Outside the lines and without exceptions.