Dr. Michele Angello, Ph.D. works with gender-variant youth. You might have seen her on Larry King Live, The Dr. Phil Show, or Tyra Banks. Today she brings a very important message to queer Christian youth. In support of the IDentity Kit, Dr. Angello wants you to know that all of the different parts of you—your faith, family, religion, gender, orientation, and talents—matter. No part of you was a mistake. It was all intend by grand design. As a sexologist and educator Dr. Angello says these things in her own words which will appear as the forward in your IDentity Kit. She writes:
Have you ever discovered something that initially felt really amazing, but when you told other people about it, they laughed, told you it was absurd, ridiculous, or even a sin? Tragically, a lot of young people experience this after they recognize and share with others that the feelings they had of “being different” were actually because they were gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. Rather than share in the enthusiasm, some parents, friends, and spiritual affiliations attempt to convince them that this fantastic awareness is inauthentic and that they should deny themselves the opportunity to be happy and healthy within their own skin. Worse yet, many youth are bullied, kicked out of their homes or are asked to refrain from attending religious services until they agree to renounce what they spent months or even years understanding about a very core part of who they are.
The truth is, coming out as anything other than heterosexual or gender-normative takes a lot of guts. And, considering the recent epidemic of young people committing suicide because of their orientation or gender identity/expression, we need to begin talking more openly and honestly about ways to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ). This is where Your IDK let’s you hit the ground running! Since it’s a fact that people of all ages rely heavily upon their faith when making major life-changes, it makes perfect sense that individuals coming out will look to see what their spiritual home believes about LGBTQ people. Some groups have made much more progress than others with regard to explicitly stating that they are welcoming and affirming congregations. For people who aren’t able to find such a statement from their religious leaders, the IDK can support them in understanding that it isn’t unfathomable or unacceptable to be LGBTQ and a person of devout faith. As a matter of fact, the IDK allows you to see yourself or your loved ones as multi-dimensional.
There are countless LGBTQ people with successful careers, political affiliations, and religions. The book is augmented with a fun card game to bring this point home even more clearly. It’s intended for youth, families and anyone looking to better understand the complexity of orientation and gender identity/expression. The truth is, we all have both a sexual orientation and a gender identity but unless one or both of these fall outside of what people understand as typical, they are usually taken for granted. The IDK reinforces the fact that every young person deserves an opportunity to be happy and be able to worship in a place that not only tolerates them, but loves them for being so courageously authentic! I hope that, like me, you’ll read the Kit and be compelled to spread the word to others who may not have the support that they need and deserve as they reconcile these very critical components of identity and faith!
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