Religion & Sexuality | First Person #17 | PBS Digital Studios


Today we are here at church — St. Luke in
the Fields Episcopal Church be specific. This church is historically LGBTQ
affirming and we’re going to be talking to the Reverend Broderick Greer all about
sexuality, gender identity, faith and religion. So, let’s got o church! My name is Broderick Greer. I am
Curate at Grace St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Memphis Tennessee, and I am gay. Tell me about you coming to understand your sexuality and your identity. II would describe that is the most difficult question of my life. I grew up in a very devout Black Missionary Baptist home. Church was always a very important part of my life. I was in church about 10 every Sunday morning to one every Sunday afternoon
and we’d be in church on Wednesday night for Bible study and on Thursday nights
for choir rehearsal. Church was just as much a part of my life as eating Frosted
Flakes was every day. I remember when I was 6, there was a
gospel musician that came through Fort Worth, Texas where I was born, and my
grandmother took me up to her to meet her and the woman said, “You are going to be a minister.” And so I had that sense from a very early age. I realized that I
was gay when I was about five years old and when I was nine I decided that I
needed to tell my parents but of course that didn’t happen until I was 21. I knew
that I loved God, I knew and distant way that God loved me — I mean I was told that all the time. And I knew that we had a gay man in our church but basically he
was invisible. And in the ’90s when I was growing up, there was a string
of musicians and church choir directors who died from AIDS. I just remember as a
child going to funeral after funeral and thinking, since I’m attracted to other
boys, this will be my fate. I certainly wasn’t in the same position, but I, from a very young age, was told this was wrong, this was bad, God would not be okay with it. My experience was that I never believed it, and so I wonder what yours was — did you believe it at first? Oh absolutely. And I actually ended up
being baptized four times because I was convinced that if I couldn’t
pray away the gay, then I could wash away the gay. But that did not work.
I accepted that I was gay when I was about 19 and in that moment I realized that I
needed to find a way of being faithful to myself and my I authentic identity and
also to the church in whatever form that took. I had the sense that like if God wanted me to be straight, then God would
make me straight. Right. How is your family during this process?
– My family has been supportive and it’s very interesting, kind of the intersection of
being black, religious, gay. There are lots of perceptions that black people are
more homophobic than white people. I have heard people say things and make those assumptions explicitly. Yeah, which is an interesting thing to me, especially given the fact that the gay man that I mentioned earlier, in our church, he and his partner are close friends of our
family. When my grandmother died last year, they were listed as special sons
of my grandmother. To think, you know, that this “inherently homophobic” black family
has room, not only for me, but for these friends of our family, these sons of our family, is a telling commentary on, kind of, the state of what it means to be an LGBT person of color. Just as diverse as creation is with various colors and hues so is the diversity and beauty and
complexity of our individual gender and sexual expressions. I can’t imagine knowing that one of the leaders in my faith was LGBTQ. It is important for me to make it
very clear that I am gay and I am a person of faith and those two things are
not in conflict at all. Yeah, I think that it’s boundless in how
helpful it is. I mean for young people certainly, but also for families, for
parents. You know, I mean my mom would have not even known what to do with herself if she could have reconciled my sexuality with
our faith. For so many years, so many of us were demonized, silenced, erased. And now we are leading flourishing communities of faith. Basically, we’re at
the center of the story like we always should have been. Have you seen push back from within LGBTQIA communities when you say what you do, when you say that you’re a person of faith? Yes, and rightfully so. The church has wounded lots of LGBTQIA people. A lot of people will ask, “So does your church know that you’re gay?” And I’m like, “Yes, they do, how can they not?” And a lot of that is just the one-on-one
contact with people, letting them know that our church is a place of safety and
a place of affirmation and love. For people who are struggling with their
sexual or gender identity, my only message is that they are wholly and
completely loved by God and that their sexual and gender expression and
identity are… beautiful. It’s like a very emotional thing for me to think about that process, of what it feels like to actually be told that you’re welcome and you mean it when you’re saying it, and the church is meaning it when they say it. I know of a lot of Episcopal communities
that have ads that say, “All are welcome, no asterisks.” Usually, you know, when churches say things like that there’s fine print. You know, if you’re transgender, if you’re
queer, if you’re non-binary. It is a great thing to be able to say that
and not have any qualifiers. Thank you! Thank you so much!
– Oh, of course, of course! Everyone at home you can find Broderick, he’s written for The Guardian, Huffington Post, Links are down below. You should follow him on Twitter because he’s awesome and always spreading really incredible words. And, of course, subscribe to our channel, we are coming at you with new videos every week. Yeah, have a great week! Bye! Subtitles by the community


33 Responses

  1. AddictedToMusic95

    September 21, 2015 2:41 pm

    Another wonderful video examining an important intersection of identities it was lovely to feel the love coming off this video – thank you so much for making this! (Also, props to Rv. Brodrick for including the A in the acronym and for mentioning nonbinary identities!)

  2. Tess

    September 21, 2015 2:52 pm

    This was such a beautiful thing to watch – I was raised without a faith, so I don't know a huge amount about the intersections between faith and sexuality/gender identity. Knowing that there are accepting congregations and churches will probably make it more likely that one day I will come to identify with a faith – since I've accepted and worked out my sexuality, religion has been the most recent thing I've been confused about. I find different faiths and religions really interesting, and I think I'd like to find one that accepts me and reflects my beliefs. It's nice to know that there more than likely is somewhere that I can be a part of that reflects that. 🙂 Great episode as ever, and am looking forward to the next one! xx, Tess

  3. Becca Bailey

    September 21, 2015 4:24 pm

    I'm so happy that you made this episode because I'm Christian, gay and gender questioning, but people stereotype Christians as non-LGBTQA+ accepting. It's great to let people know that we love and accept them for who they truly are! I'd love to find a church with a vicar like Broderick where I can be accepted by everyone there and these issues are actually discussed 😀

  4. Echo Jardini

    September 21, 2015 7:01 pm

    Oh my gosh, this made me cry. I am still trying to reconcile my gender and my faith. I've been without a church or even a chosen religion for three years– since I came out as trans. It's hard to imagine ever belonging to a church where I don't feel less-than for being non-binary, but I hope that one day I may find a spiritual community that understands and supports who I am as a person.

  5. Billie Potts

    September 21, 2015 8:10 pm

    This is cool. It is nice to know there are real churches that are LGBTQIA+ friendly. I'm a proud atheist myself. The sex negativity of churches (slightly ironic considering the fact that I am a homoromantic asexual) combined with the homophobic attitudes has in many ways influenced me to leave Roman Catholicism. Conservative political beliefs intermixing with religion has also played a role in driving me away. Obviously, the biggest thing for me was that I simply stopped believing. I love science, logic, and reason and dislike faith. I was quite religious through my childhood, devoutly going to church every Sunday and attending CCD. There was a short time I was religious to hedge my bets.

  6. Mary O'Shaughnessy

    September 22, 2015 2:27 am

    Deacon Greer is terrific.

    Anyone and everyone who would like to check St. Luke's out, is welcome! Our Sunday morning services are at 8:00 (quiet, no music) , 9:15 (lots of families of all kinds with kids) and 11:15 (20s/30s, professional choir)–and Monday through Thursday at 6:15 pm, Fridays at 12:45 pm.

  7. The Doctor

    September 25, 2015 5:26 am

    I'm so so happy to see a video about the lgbt+ community and religious faith! His testimony was wonderful and really made me feel emotional as a queer teen from a devoutly Christian family and community. I love these videos, thank you all at First Person so much!!

  8. Maeve Higgins

    September 25, 2015 7:59 pm

    I have worked as a service worker, for youth in foster care with developmental disabilities, at the same agency for the last 3.5 years. I have had an excellent reputation with all my clients and their families. Unfortunately, since being open about expressing my gender identity, I have experienced many difficulties with the business aspect of the job (i.e. not being paid, no supervisions). It was recently brought to my attention how vocal my direct supervisor is about his anti-LGBTQ* beliefs in and out of the workplace. As of last week, I was terminated from my job without any explanation, and without the opportunity to say goodbye to kids and families I have been working with for 3+ years. I want to pursue a complaint/case, but I do not want it to turn into an attack on my supervisors beliefs. However, the timing of all of this is just too ironic, and correlated to ignore. But because trans* discrimination is still legal in NY, I do not know how to approach opening a case without sacrificing my identity. I don't want this experience to happen to anyone else who may be in my position. My main concern, however, is the lives and experiences of my kids. I work with an enormously diverse population who have already had to endure an enormous amount of trauma and opression and I don't want them to have to face the same hate I have had to endure. Any advice on how to go about making a change?

  9. Lainie Allen

    September 27, 2015 2:38 pm

    So well-spoken, Broderick. You give me and countless others such hope for what the Christian community can continue to become if we can truly welcome ALL (no asterisk!)

  10. jertyuiophello

    October 5, 2015 12:34 pm

    I really like this video, I am a Christian and I'm also gay, and my church friends were some of the first people I came out to and they were all really supportive. It is always sad to see Christians hating on gays and gays hating on (all) Christians, so I'm glad that there are people who speak out about these things. Thanks for the amazing videos. First Person! 😀

  11. katie roy

    October 5, 2015 11:32 pm

    This is so beautiful! Thank you for the work you all are doing. Being gay and Christian has always been a difficult thing for people to accept. But videos like these really give me a sense of hope. So just thank you!

  12. Sara Perry

    October 6, 2015 12:42 am

    This is an amazing video. Many people don't want to even have this conversation, and to be able to totally agree with everything that was being said makes life so much easier. Great job!!

  13. Vivi Addams

    October 14, 2015 10:53 am

    I haven't been to church in a while, since before I came out to myself probably. I hope I can find one in my community that is accepting of LGBTQIAP+. Also, hearing the A included when you were both speaking, that was a really great feeling, thank you for that.


  14. Casual Observations

    October 29, 2015 8:58 pm

    Great video! I recently started attending an Episcopal Church, greatly in part because of it's stance on these issues.

  15. Anastasia Elissa

    December 20, 2015 4:01 am

    I'm questioning my sexuality but still finding it hard to reconcile my faith and also sexuality 🙁

  16. Steed Films

    June 1, 2017 1:25 am

    I love what Broderick says here. I was raised an evangelical, have recently walked away from my childhood faith but I don't want to give it up. I would love to hear why Broderick says that homosexuality is good when the Bible says (over and over and over and over and over and over again) that it's bad. Not because I'm a Bible thumper or anything like that, but because biblical doctrine has maintained Christianity since its birth. So I wonder what his reasons are for going against what doctrine has said over and over again.

  17. firewolf222

    February 19, 2018 7:52 am

    when i fist came out i was so afraid god hated me. so i told god that i was sure i was gay. when i did i got this shivering tingle from my head down my spine that was a lovely warm comforting feeling. since then i knew i was OK .fun fact sense then that tingling warm feeling comes whenever i need reasurence of my path or when i need a direction.

  18. mvmlego1212

    August 3, 2018 1:47 am

    It would have been nice to hear about the theology aspect of this. It's very strange to say have a 7-minute interview with a Christian minister on a topic that most people perceive the Bible as condemning, without even quoting a single Bible verse. Furthermore, the advice given at 6:15 is patently unBiblical. A central premise of Christianity is that no one is holy, and it's extremely unwise to tell a wide audience that their sexual expression is beautiful when you don't even know what their mode of expression is–which is a big problem for a movement that is so unspecific that it usually needs a "+" at the end of its name.

  19. Tucker Weinmann

    April 24, 2019 7:55 am

    Greer is an SJW – And SJWism is completely antithetical to the profession of priest, but also to the Christian Church.


Leave a Reply