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 in 2013 — 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.
As I lay awake in West Philly, in the humid July darkness of a friend’s apartment, a few days into my 1,600-mile research trip, my grandmother’s face appeared before my eyes: pale white and gray, warmly spectral against the black night. My esteemed Rabbi’s face appeared next. I can’t remember whether my eyes were opened or closed. For a few minutes, face after face swirled through my vision: teachers, inspirational friends, relatives. That night, I saw a cloud of witnesses. Their presence reminded me that, although I journeyed alone, I was not unaccompanied.
Nearly 100 queer sisters, brothers and siblings offered their time and wisdom to this project, from Boston to Little Rock. You are the face of queer religiosity: young and old, Muslim and Mennonite, immigrants and indigenous, atheist and observant. I continue to hear your individual voices. Thank you, first and foremost, to you knowledge-bearers and truth-tellers. This work would not be possible without your courage.
My mentors at Earlham supported this project from its earliest days with both intellectual and spiritual encouragement: Rabbi Rachel, Kelly, Trish, and Michael. I also thank my yoga teachers, especially Peter; my priest, Rev. Gretchen; and the extended communities at Down Under Yoga and the Episcopal Parish of St. Paul. My most profound thanks to Karen, who helped me learn to hear my voice and follow this guidance. To digest and interpret this research to this stage has taken me more than five years. I have had the love of extraordinary friends and colleagues during this time, especially my peers at Earlham College and Harvard Divinity School. God willing, you know who you are.
My deep thanks to Todne Thomas and Nick Mendoza for graciousness and guidance as I wrote about Queer Spiritual Genius. I am indebted furthermore to all my teachers of English, journalism, and Portraiture, especially Nancy Menchoffer, Katie Meyers, Judi Hetrick, and Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot. For a gentle introduction to theological studies, I thank Mark D. Jordan, Rev. Cameron Partridge, and Rev. Jonathan Walton.
Thanks to my family of origin: Katie, Rob, Steve, Jim, Nancy, and Richard, and to the families I chose, including RDL, Adele, Nate and the Judge; and John, Laurel, Rose and Myke.
E.B., thank you for blooming beside me.