#AskingforAFriend, Episode 59
Real responses from LGBTQIA+ people on the questions you're curious about.
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 LGBTQIA+ 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.
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Meet Our Panelists
John Backman (she/her) is a writer, spiritual director, and monastic associate who also goes by Janelle. Some of her personal essays explore what it’s like to be bigender—a gender within the Q of LGBTQIA+—while others relate to contemplative spirituality and the ways it collides with postmodern life. John’s book, Why Can’t We Talk? Christian Wisdom on Dialogue as a Habit of the Heart, describes how the inner transformation wrought by the Spirit can empower us to listen to all people with curiosity and an open heart. John welcomes the chance to answer questions about gender identity that you’ve had but weren’t sure who to ask.
Carson Sotelo (he/him) 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.
Kelly Crouch (they/them) is a bisexual and genderqueer Christian from Southwest Ohio. Kelly wrestled with questions of faith and sexuality at an early age, having grown up in a rural community with fundamentalist perspectives on queer people.
Kelly holds a Master of Arts from Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York with a Social Ethics concentration. They are currently in the process of becoming a recorded minister in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Currently, Kelly is attending the London School of Economics while residing in London, England.
Aaron Munson (he/him) 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.
Liz Munson (she/her) has been on a journey of reconciling her faith and sexuality over the past decade. She is in what the side B community calls a mixed-orientation marriage and is passionate about helping other couples with similar stories know that they don't have to walk through the joys and challenges of marriage by themselves. While she felt compelled by God to enter into her marriage, she firmly believes God moves in other people's lives in very different and equally beautiful ways. We are all welcome at God's table. Liz identifies as a nonbinary lesbian who can often be caught reading, loves to travel, cooking new recipes, and going on adventures with her family.
Marissa Adams (she/her) is a Christian intersex woman who has been involved in intersex advocacy and support for 8 years. She has been a volunteer youth advocate at interACT: Advocates for Intersex Youth since 2013 and is currently the communications coordinator at the InterConnect Support Group which is the largest and old support group for intersex people in the United States. She participated in Dr. Megan DeFranza and Lianne Simon's documentary Stories of Intersex and Faith and currently serves as the board treasurer for the organization Intersex and Faith. She is passionate about advocating for intersex rights and using her story to support and inspire other intersex people.
Melinda Garza Moran (she/her) is an advocate and volunteer with the LGBTQ+ community. Her advocacy work began with Affirmations, Michigan's largest LGBTQ community center. As a Christian mother of a gay son, she has seen the heartbreak of many teens and young adults who have been rejected by their biological and church families. Melinda is a dedicated volunteer for LOVEboldly and volunteered with GLSEN, and Safe and Supported. She has a B.S. in Leadership and is currently studying for a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Justice and Reconciliation at Luther Seminary. Melinda will be seeking ordination in the ELCA (Evangelical Church in America). She is an active member of Prince of Peace Lutheran church, where she serves as a Council Leader. Melinda resides in Lebanon, Ohio and enjoys spoiling her grandsons.
Tyler Chernesky (he/him/his) is a storyteller, writer, placemaker, and friend who currently works with the Six Word Memoir project and helps lead a hyper-local, neighborhood nonprofit named Community Happens Here. He also partners with various community-centered organizations as a grant writer. Tyler’s pastored at two urban churches, and received his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Chicago, IL. He loves musical theater, sunny beaches, and creates one collage each week.
Dr. Ben Huelskamp (he/they) is the Executive Director of LOVEboldly and an openly Queer Christian public theologian, author, pastor, and host of The Christian Bear podcast. A lifelong church geek, Ben appreciates a stirring sermon as much as he loves a well-executed liturgy. He earned a BA in philosophy, a MEd in higher education and student affairs, and an EdD in leadership with a focus on religion and ministry. He wrote his dissertation on the leadership of LGBTQIA+ people in the Church. Ben is a voracious reader, avid Star Trek nerd, and an alumnus member of Phi Mu Delta fraternity. If he ever got a tattoo, it would be of the Oxford Comma.
Dr. Ben Huelskamp