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“We Are All Made In the Divine Image”—PRIDE Month Ends With Queer Youth of Faith Day

Acknowledging an often too-hostile climate for LGBTQIA+ youth of faith, Beloved Arise, a movement dedicated to LGBTQIA+ youth of faith set aside June 30, the last day of PRIDE month, as Queer Youth of Faith Day (QYFDAY). Though strides have been made along the religious spectrum in opening doors and welcoming queer young people, a significant number of houses of worship have imprinted as part of their dogma the outright dehumanization and exclusion of LGBTQIA+ human beings.

The statistics are discouraging. Religiosity has been associated with significantly higher rates of suicide attempts among gay, lesbian, and questioning youth. The widespread practice of conversion therapy—the attempt to “de-queer” an individual through psychiatric techniques, shock and other barbaric methods—still legal for children and minors in many states—has resulted in 27% of the suicide attempts by LGBTQIA+ youth in 2020.

Yet, despite antagonism and antipathy, one in five LGBTQIA+ youth consider spirituality an important part of their life. Beloved Arise takes the position that mandated enforcement of a heterosexual identity is not a workable answer for the marginalization, exclusion and resultant angst of LGBTQIA+ young people; but that support and community is.

The goal of the organization was for 1.8 million people to unite in prayer, corresponding to the 1.8 million projected young LGBTQIA+ people who will seriously consider suicide in the next year.

“When you’re queer, it’s hard to be able to step into a church without worry of judgment from those around you,” Beloved Arise youth ambassador Sid High said. “Having a safe space to do so when so many of us are desperately seeking a space to belong is truly beautiful.” 

High, who is a transgender Christian, said Queer Youth Day of Faith is an opportunity to bring together other queer people of various faith backgrounds under the same mission: to spread love, regardless of one’s individual religious teachings.

“Being queer and religious are not mutually exclusive; they are a part of each of us,” another Beloved Arise youth ambassador, Sabrina Hodak, a bisexual Modern Orthodox Jew, said. “We have a place in religion just as much as everyone else. We can’t choose who we love, but we can choose our faith, and people need to respect that, regardless of their understanding.” 

Beloved Arise, as the first national organization for queer young people of faith,  takes a mosaic of approaches and has a multitude of support and empowering resources in keeping with the varied communities it serves: Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu.

Through youth groups, ambassadorships, essay and storytelling contests, campus groups and initiatives such as Queer Youth of Faith Day the organization seeks to help young LGBTQIA+ people find a place to build relationships, find support, and be inspired to embrace their true selves.

As Jacob Feldan, a youth ambassador who identifies as a bisexual Jew, says, “Queer Youth of Faith Day is an opportunity to engage with our whole selves, all aspects of our identities, and remind ourselves that we are all made in the divine image.”