WALKING BETWEEN WORLDS

Working Effectively with LGBT People from Faith Backgrounds

“I relate to most of what you say here…a few times I have thought it would be easier to kill myself and have tried hard to do this, ending up in hospital more than once…there has to be a better way“
“Do I live a life of torment and accept that's the price I have to pay. I chose to marry and have children. I have too much to lose; too many people will hurt if I leave. That price is too high. Is there a way in the middle? It’s doing my head in. I can see why guys commit suicide - the conflict just destroys you inside. I have prayed for God to heal me for so many years, and he won't. I'm stuck and I'm lost.“
“It's hard enough to be gay to begin with, let alone being a gay Christian. Many people outside the gay community don't or won’t accept those of us that are Christians. They tend to ridicule, mock and judge us. When you’re a gay Christian, you’re not accepted in the straight community nor the gay community and even worse the church itself. “

Background

LGBT people of faith and religion exist in/or have experienced two worlds; often intensely opposed to each other. They experience the usual issues of resolving their sexuality, coming out, finding their place in the community and learning what it means to live authentically in a predominately straight world. However, they often experience these with greater intensity and have additional issues to deal with.

What are the impacts of faith/sexuality conflict?

  • Intense cognitive dissonance because the acceptance or rejection of their sexuality has eternal consequences.
  • Suicidality. Research shows this group have either thoughts of, or attempts to suicide more often than those from non- faith backgrounds.
  • Mental health issues. The dissonance created by the perceived conflict of faith and sexuality causes anxiety, stress and depression.
  • Self destructive behaviours. When people leave religious backgrounds, they are often left with strong feelings of failure and shame.
  • Obsessive behaviours and addictions. Unhealthy behaviours develop when people suppress or deny their sexual orientation.
  • Trauma and grief. Extricating oneself from the religion can be traumatic and the loss of family, friends and faith devastating.
  • Internalised homophobia. Even after coming out, years of negative conditioning and self-hatred continue to have impact.
  • Loss of purpose and self esteem.  The new gay identity, initially, may not be as profound as the previous Christian identity.
  • Inability to connect.  Leaving the church means entire social network is lost and the new LGBT world difficult to negotiate.
  • Higher risk of HIV & STI infection. People from church backgrounds rarely have access to safe-sex education.
  • Discrimination. LGBT people of faith experience discrimination not only from their churches but also within the LGBT community.

Why special training?

Understanding the LGBT faith person’s background, worldview, beliefs systems as well as the unique personal and mental health issues they face enables community workers and service providers to work more effectively with their clients.

Who should attend?

  • LGBT community workers
  • Social workers
  • Mental health professionals
  • School counsellors
  • Chaplains
  • Telephone counsellors
  • LGBT liaison officers
  • Church workers
  • Health care workers
  • Youth workers

Learning outcomes.

This practical training program provides an in-depth look into the world of LGBT people of faith by understanding their contexts, identifying their issues and giving you tools that will assist them on their journey.

  • The complexities, various layers and how to separate issues of faith and sexuality
  • Identify specific issues faced by LGBT people of faith and how to resolve them
  • Why people LGBT people of faith and religion are an emerging group
  • How to create non-judgmental, safe spaces for LGBT people of faith
  • Strategies and models to work with an unresolved belief system
  • Understand ‘ex-gay’ ministries philosophies and practices
  • The do’s and don’ts working with LGBT people of faith
  • What additional support mechanisms are available
  • Approaching safe sex issues