When I decided to start a podcast about queer spirituality, the first challenge I faced was in defining exactly what made a particular spiritual path queer. I don’t think that just because a LGBTQ+ person follows a particular spiritual path, it makes that path a queer spiritual path.

One place that I could look, of course, is history. For example, the goddess Inanna had a priesthood in ancient Sumeria that wore women’s garments and was believed to have practice homoeroticism. Is that authentic queer spirituality? Perhaps. The challenge in looking to history for our queer spiritual roots is that the labels LGBTQ+ people use today didn’t exist. There really wasn’t a concept of queer identity and without queer identity can you truly have queer spirituality?

How then, do we identify an authentic queer spirituality in modern times? In essence, queer spirituality is how LGBTQ+ people understand and develop a connection with their own higher power. But modern queer people do this in a myriad of ways, some of which are more queer affirming than others.

It seemed that there should be some hallmarks or clues that a spiritual path can rightfully claim to be an expression of queer spirituality. Here are the hallmarks I came up with.

Celebrates queerness as special

There are spiritual paths that accept LGBTQ+ people but should we set our aim higher? It seems to me that the ideal here would be a spiritual path that celebrates our queerness and views it as a gift. Perhaps even going as far as to say that LGBTQ+ people have a special role to play in the spiritual development of humankind. How much more empowering is that view compared to being merely accepted?

Sex Positivity

Let me be super clear here. Giving up sex as a condition for connection with a higher power is simply not acceptable. An authentic queer spiritual path would be one that honors sex and creates the conditions for it to be a sacred act, regardless of context. Having said that, I think the participants in said sex could do more to make it a sacred act as well. One-night stands can be part of a sacred and special moment if the parties to it approach it that way.

Queerness reflected in the Divine

I think this one is really important. It’s a relative recent development that LGBTQ+ people have even seen themselves reflected in movies, on television or in ads. Being able to see yourself reflected in the Divine is crucial to spiritual well-being. If god creates us in his image, then LGBTQ+ people need queer gods.

Reveals the sacred in everyday living

For many people today, spirituality is an afterthought or compartmentalized to a certain time or day. Some queer people likewise partition their real selves away from everyday life. An authentic queer spirituality should encourage both queerness and spirituality to be woven throughout the fabric of life. In this type of approach, we’d see the sacred revealed in living our lives because we’ve brought our spirituality out into the open.

This is a short list of some of the hallmarks of queer spirituality that I’ve come up with. While there are some paths that hit all of these, there are also some that fall short. Just as queer identity is something we’ve created in modern times; we can now go about the work of creating our own paths to a higher power that has all of these hallmarks. We can invent our own queer spiritual paths to meet our needs.

About the Author, Julian Crosson-Hill

Julian Crosson-Hill, ACC is an ICF certified spiritual life coach and human design specialist. He coaches gay and bisexual men in living a life of purpose, meaning, and connection.

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