In spring 2013, I was waiting: for the Vatican to announce a new Pope, and for the U.S. Supreme Court to announce its landmark rulings regarding same-sex relationships. The news media showed a bitter divide between the religious right and LGBTQ people. But in my heart, I tried to reconcile both: hope for legal recognition for queer relationships, and hope for a new pope who would give spiritual approval.
We read about religions condemning homosexuality, and homosexuals condemning religion, but what about those in between? What about the LGBTQ people in our churches, mosques and synagogues — and those who have been rejected by them? How are they living in this intersection?
In the middle of a sleepless night, I realized that I needed to hear how others were negotiating this apparent chasm. As a writer, a spiritual seeker, and a queer person, I knew that this was the next project in my life. Early on I stopped asking "Why?" and instead have asked, "Why not?" That question took me into 16 cities and nearly 90 life-changing conversations.
It is now 2018, and I am working on a book-length manuscript based on what I learned in these conversations. I look forward to sharing more about that in the months ahead.
The Queerituality Project is the work of Mandi Rice — a queer-identified person with a Catholic dad, a Presbyterian/Methodist mom, a Jewish step-dad, and a Quaker education. Mandi recently completed a Master's degree at Harvard Divinity School where she wrote her thesis about Queer Spiritual Genius.
Mandi decided to record the stories of queer people of faith more than a decade after she came out when she was a middle school student. As a young adult, she was closely involved both with her religious community and with LGBTQ activist causes in her area. She lobbied the state legislature, school board officials, and principals of local schools for greater protections for queer people, and received the Ernest Jones Humanitarian Award for that work. She also taught at her church's Vacation Bible School, sang in the church choir, served as an acolyte, but refused to be confirmed into the United Methodist Church because of its stance that "homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."
Mandi is the kind of person who just can't help talking to you in line at the grocery store. She has reported for Saint Louis Public Radio, served as news director for WECI-FM, and held online media positions with newspapers and non-profits. She has reported in Montréal, Canada; St. Louis, Mo.; and Richmond, Ind.
When she is not driving around the country, Mandi lives with her partner in greater Boston.