Finding Faith is a new, experimental group that runs for six weeks at OUTMemphis. Finding Faith was created to serve as a safe place for individuals to freely discuss their experiences within their religious or spiritual environments. The group will be moderated by David Grant.
“Growing up in a religious home environment provided me with many challenges. Through the challenges, I have seen that there are several people who experience issues with their religious institutions,” Grant said.
“With support from others, I do believe that it is possible to make it through the difficult times. For me, I am thankful for the support that I receive from my fiancée, Thaddeus, and from my friends. I hope Finding Faith serves as an inspirational group for individuals to not give up,” Grant said, “and to remember that life does get better!”
The support group is a place for all to feel welcome and where thoughts can be shared with one another, without judgement. The core of the group will focus on how religion can serve as the core of many LGBT lives, and yet LGBT people experience the highest amount of negative backlash for their sexual orientation. While the support group runs, there will be an open discussion about how to overcome the negative reactions caused by others and how through self-care, LGBT people may be able to find a new relationship with their Higher Power.
892 South Cooper
Memphis, TN 38104
Topics that will be discussed:
COMING OUT Several researchers in the past have defined coming out as one of the most spiritual components in a LGBT person’s life. Coming Out is viewed as the moment when an individual begins to connect with their authentic self. Coming out can be a challenging time for several people in the South. The group can serve as a safe haven for individuals who have come out or who are thinking about coming out. People who have come out can share their experiences and what they wish they could have done differently. People that have not yet come out can ask questions about how to come out and other relevant questions. The hope is for the message to help people learn how to come out in a comfortable atmosphere.
SEEKING OUT RELIGION; THE NEGATIVE REACTIONS TO LGBT THAT COMMONLY OCCUR When trying to find their religious identity, LGBT people tend to experience more negative reactions based on their sexual orientation. Despite the negative reactions, LGBT people are still proactively searching out a church home.
LGBT FRIENDLY CHURCHES IN MEMPHIS The churches can be broken down into different denomination, congregational demographics (age group, racial ethnicity, etc) and if the individual is looking for a church that has more outgoing social groups. Depending upon the preferences that a LGBT person has, the group can help them determine which church home might be a good fit.
COPING MECHANISMS In response to negative reactions, LGBT people have found coping mechanism that can alleviate the hurt that they have received from religious institutions. Coping mechanisms can include reading gay affirmative literature, LGBT interpretations of the Bible, listening to LGBT religious podcasts, and meditation. The group can educate individuals on each coping mechanism so that they can find a coping mechanism that works for them in their life.
Grant’s recommended reading list:
“Some of Us Are Good, God-Fearing Folks”: Justifying Religious Participation in an LGBT Christian Church by J. Edward Sumerau
Forgive Me Father for I Have Sinned: The Role of a Christian Upbringing on Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identity Development by Jessica Lapinski and David McKirnan
All the Pain Along with All the Joy: Spiritual Resilience in Lesbian and Gay Christians by Kirk A Foster, Sharon E Bowland Anne Nancy Vosle
At the Intersection of Church and Gay: A Review of the Psychological Research Gay and Lesbian Christians by Eric M Rodriguez
Que(er/ry)in Christianity: Questions, Answers and More Questions by Christina L Ivey
Helping Gay and Lesbian Students Integrate Sexual and Religious Identities by Hannah Barnhill Bayne