#AskingForAFriend

Real responses from LGBTQ+ people on the questions that trouble you.

Do you have questions regarding faith and sexual orientation or gender identity, but avoid asking them for fear of saying the wrong thing, sounding insensitive, or coming across as unloving?

 

By #AskingForAFriend you can anonymously ask your most pressing questions, and one of our carefully selected LGBTQ+ Christian panelists will respond. Our panel consists of friends of LOVEboldly who we know, love, and trust. They are committed to providing sensitive and respectful answers.

Meet Our Panelists

David

David works in community mental health and has served as a pastor, a church planter, and a pastoral educator. He shares a uniquely divided heart on matters of sexual orientation and gender identity, finding it difficult to fall on a hard “side”. His story includes being a transgender man who is married to a cisgender, straight wife. They both work to facilitate conversations on hard things without diminishing each one’s individual story and experiences. David desires to share in the lives of others and their stories of transition and experiences in the world and church, as well as, walk with families and leaders who may be encountering frustration, isolation, and educational disconnect between LGBTQ+ experiences of life, faith and the church

John Backman

What do you mean, there are more than two genders? What do you do if you don’t see yourself as male or female, but something else, something unique? What is there to gender beyond what your body looks like? I’ve been asking questions like these for most of the 45 years I’ve followed Jesus. As a result, I identify as both Christian and gender nonbinary—a gender within the Q of LGBTQ+—and I’d be delighted to discuss either, or both, and how they work together. As a writer and spiritual director, I’ve spent more than a decade focusing on contemplative spirituality and the unexpected ways it collides with postmodern life. This includes a book (Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart) about talking—and more important, listening—to all people with a spirit of curiosity and an open heart.

Siobahn Boyd-Nelson

Siobhan Boyd-Nelson is a native of Columbus, OH and is Director of Development & External Relations at Equality Ohio, the statewide advocacy and education organization for LGBTQ Ohioans. She is a graduate of Liberty Christian Academy, Howard University and OSU. Until early adulthood, Siobhan believed that her same-sex attractions, Black identity and Christian faith could never be reconciled. After being exposed to the examples and writings of Bishop Yvette Flunder (City of Refuge UCC, Oakland, CA) and others, Siobhan began to seek what she never thought she could have–a spiritual home that could be shared with her spouse, Maritza. Today, Siobhan and Maritza call Move United Church (UCC) home. Siobhan serves on the board and Maritza plays in the band.

Alex Shanks

Alex Shanks is Rachel’s husband, Ella Marie’s papa, and a transman. He considers himself a thinker, woodworker, storyteller, servant leader, and spiritual seeker. After studying Organizational Communication, Religion, and Entrepreneurship at Ohio Northern University, he held various vocational ministry roles. Most recently he worked for Equality Ohio where he developed their faith organizing initiatives, and for Reconciling Ministries Network as North Central Regional Organizer. Currently, he is serving the LGBTQ+ community as Associate Director of Prevention for Equitas Health.

Carson Sotelo

Carson Sotelo is member of New City Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, Spanish, and International Studies from Saint Louis University. Carson seeks to pursue what it looks like for a gay Christian to live out a life that honors God, and believes that includes upholding a traditional sex ethic. He currently teaches English as a Second Language and leads a community group through New City. He resides in Cincinnati, OH.

After coming out as bisexual in 2016, Stephen stopped calling himself a Christian because he could not reconcile the harm that LGBTQ+ people have suffered because of the actions of the church. After much soul-searching and becoming connected with LOVEboldly, Stephen has re-engaged with Christianity as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Stephen is currently attending Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York where he is studying social ethics.

Stephen Crouch

Gregory Coles is the author of Single, Gay, Christian: A Personal Journey of Faith and Sexual Identity (InterVarsity Press, 2017) and No Longer Strangers: Finding Belonging in a World of Alienation (forthcoming in 2021). He holds a PhD in English from Penn State and lives in central Pennsylvania, where he works as a writer, speaker, editor, baker, and worship leader. You can follow his authorial activities on Facebook or at gregorycoles.com.

Gregory Coles

Rachel Dew

Rachel Dew cares deeply for those on the margins and has always valued building bridges of learning, understanding, and friendship between diverse groups of people. She credits her children with giving her the courage and motivation to develop her voice as an everyday advocate for inclusivity, equity, and justice in her community.
Her journey of acceptance with her transgender child, and the subsequent hurt she experienced in the church, has given her a heart for coming alongside Christian parents of LGBTQI children to provide a safe space of love and support. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Ohio University and a certificate in Leadership and Theology from the Vineyard Institute.

Lianne Simon

Lianne was born intersex and began telling her story and the stories of other intersex people through her novels. A devout Christian, she nevertheless experienced rejection in church and was asked by her pastor to remain silent about her intersex body. She co-founded the non-profit Intersex and Faith to “support, advocate with, and educate others about intersex people to help faith communities welcome those born outside the male/female binary.” She is Co-Producer of the documentary Stories of Intersex and Faith, and author of Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite and A Proper Young Lady. Learn more about Lianne at intersexandfaith.org and liannesimon.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Aaron Munson

Aaron Munson is a licensed school counselor and a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) who provides virtual counseling for people who are struggling to reconcile their faith and their sexuality/sexual orientation. Aaron also leads a parent group for parents of LGBTQ+ kids to support them on their faith journey as they seek to love their kids well. This work is important to Aaron because he identifies as gay. In light of his traditional 
sexual ethic, Aaron responded to God's prompting to enter into a mixed orientation marriage to his favorite human, Liz, and they have two incredible and curious children. Although Aaron has a traditional sexual ethic, he doesn't push others to believe the same, as he recognizes every encounter with God is different, and every person's story is unique. To that end, Aaron and Liz are both passionate about helping the church love those in the LGBTQ+ community, and making churches safe places for queer people.  

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