“Queerness, and our capacity to find God within it, is exactly the thing which begins the revolution of our vibrant, colourful, everyday lives.” – Vivian Gietz
For one weekend in July I was honoured to attend Spirit Pride: An LGBT Spirituality Conference here in Vancouver, BC at St. Andrew-Wesley’s United Church with amazing and inspiring people including Jennifer Knapp, Matthias Roberts, Michelle Douglas, and many other significant feminist Christianity advocates and activists.
In both formal sessions and side conversations throughout the weekend, core themes emerged again and again. One such theme was the importance of celebrating and embracing queerness as a way of becoming closer to God. The world needs the bright, colourful spirits of LGBTQ+ Christians and the gifts that we offer.
Fittingly, the overall theme of Spirit Pride was Celebrating Our Gifts. Keynote speaker Matthias Roberts brought the idea of queerness as spiritual gift and talked of the gifts that LGBTQ+ people bring to Christian space. From my seat in the second pew, beaming ear to ear, I soaked up every word of Matthias and the other speakers, fully at home and blessed to hear aloud what God has been teaching me over the past few years: queerness is a spiritual gift. I know it is true; I am consistently a better and happier Christian and person, closer to God and able to more fully love and appreciate those around me, because I am bisexual.
This weekend was a reminder that queerness allows us to access our deeper spiritual selves, frequently in moments and places we least expect. With deeper awareness, the lessons, ideas, and people which formed our lives in the past can reappear in unexpected, important, and more beautiful ways. In the same way, queerness can bring forth gifts in mundane, unplanned moments, not structured or surrounded by talks, work days, panels, or systems.
Where these binaries break, where spirituality is queered, it is made more beautiful, more imperfect, and more a reflection of God’s holy love. The structure program was excellent, but perhaps the spaces where I learned the most were the liminal, unfiltered spaces: conversations with speakers like Matthias, Jennifer, and Michelle, when they were just my friends and fellow humans, when I was expressing my gratitude for the work they had done, and aware that I was already engaged with similar work in my own life and writing.
The weekend was full of bright colours and good conversation, many references to the hit Netflix show Queer Eye, and an abundance of drinks and conversation with good friends, both new and old. Saturday night’s spectacular fireworks show on the beach unified the weekend in joy and reiterated the lesson of the weekend, that our queerness, our diversity, and our capacity to find God within these identities is exactly the thing which begins the revolution of our vibrant, colourful, everyday lives.
With our current political reality it can be difficult to find that hope, and to cherish those parts of ourselves that risk oppression, a theme that Michelle Douglas and Jennifer Knapp shared. It is for such moments of despair, confusion, and self-doubt that we must have these experiences of joy and solidarity which bring forth acts of our own revolution, intersections of our own contradictions, and growths of our own spirits. It is there that we can find and break these binaries and cling to each other in these messy, sandy, imperfect spaces. Only then we can, and must, remember and care for our souls and find joy and togetherness in each other. The revolutions that we carry within us, as I am reminded by speakers, panelists, friends, and the cast of Queer Eye, are like the fireworks of that beautiful, warm Saturday beach night: loud and gorgeous and I am right in it.
Vivian Gietz is a 22-year-old bisexual Catholic woman, writer, feminist, and activist. She graduated from the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Gender and Woman’s Studies. She is primarily interested in exploring queer and feminist perspectives as they relate to Catholicism and Christianity through her blogging, poetry, and everyday life.
Through her work, she seeks to raise awareness about the positive intersection of faith and sexuality while creating more affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ people within Christian churches and spaces. Vivian’s other interests include fashion, coffee, and Taylor Swift. She currently resides in Vancouver, BC with her beloved cat, Baby.
Vivian blogs at viviangietz.com.