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The Resurrection’s Lessons for Doing Intersectional LGBTQ+ Ministry

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Today’s reflection is by Bondings 2.0 contributor Yunuen Trujillo.

Today’s liturgical readings for the 3rd Sunday of Easter here.

“Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.”
—Luke 24:38-39 

A few years ago, I was invited to give a presentation to LGBTQ ministry leaders. They shared that they had difficulty having women join their ministry—almost all the ministry members were men. When I asked, “Why do you think that is?” the response was, “They’re too angry.” I couldn’t help but giggle; I knew they did not mean to trigger the stereotypical image of the “angry lesbian” in my head, and I knew their answer was not ill-intentioned. They truly felt they could not deal with the frustration and sense of urgency that women (lesbian and non-lesbian) brought to their ministry.

More recently, I attended a Catholic Female Spirituality Ministry that focuses on female inclusivity in the Church. This ministry is open to all women and is not specifically an LGBTQ Ministry. As an opening activity, we were all invited to share our stories. When it was my turn, I hesitated, thinking: “Should I share the fact that I’m a lesbian? That I’m queer?” I decided to share my story without leaving anything out. My sharing triggered a very productive discussion on the need to be more inclusive of LGBTQ people in all ministry efforts. Then, somebody asked, “Do you think there is a risk of watering down the mission of women inclusivity by talking about LGBTQ issues?” My answer was, “Absolutely not; both struggles are absolutely interrelated.”

During his keynote presentation at the 2022 Outreach LGBTQ ministry conference, Fr. Bryan Massingale, a Fordham University theology professor who is well-known for addressing the need for intersectionality in LGBTQ Ministry, mentioned that people in power who target LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable groups are themselves intersectional: they discriminate equally against all of these people. Their strategy has been extremely successful: by hating everyone equally, they pit us against each other in our fight for our “piece of the pie.”

Why is it then, that LGBTQ ministries sometimes struggle in their efforts for intersectionality?

We all are born with some level of privilege and some level of vulnerability. As members of the LGBTQ community, we are already a vulnerable group. Yet, some of us belong to multiple vulnerable groups. Queer women also deal with a myriad of injustices that only women face. In the case of the ministry mentioned above, located in a country where femicides are commonplace, it’s no wonder queer women want to burn it all down.

Many queer women have to deal with microaggressions, even within their LGBTQ ministries. What if the person is also a queer woman of color? How does racism affect her sense of belonging in  often mostly white ministries? To add a further layer of complexity, what about a queer woman of color who is undocumented? How about an undocumented trans woman of color? I think you know where I’m going with this.

In today’s Gospel, we learn of a resurrected Jesus who reveals himself to his disciples on the road to Emmaus, where they recognize him through the breaking of the bread. Later, he reveals himself to his disciples in a locked room, where they recognize him by the wounds in his hands and feet. He already revealed himself to Mary Magdalene and other women at the tomb, and he is yet to reveal himself to others. Just like a coming out process, he had revealed himself more than once to different people. To be recognized in his entirety, he had to show his wounds.

For LGBTQ people who are part of other vulnerable groups, we live a life of constant coming out, revealing ourselves and our wounds, not just at one level of vulnerability, but multiple. It is often hard to reveal one’s pain and hurt in each layer of vulnerability, even to others within our ministries. Sharing such pain puts us in a very vulnerable place, and depending on the sensitivities of the ministries we belong to, we might not feel comfortable doing so. In the worst cases, those ministries don’t seem welcoming enough. In the best cases, we choose which wounds to reveal and which ones not to reveal.

Do our ministries see the resurrected Jesus in all LGBTQ people? Do we stand in awe and appreciation when somebody shares their intersectional pain? Do we seek to learn more about the hurts beyond an LGBTQ identity? Do we acknowledge that the wounds not resulting from an LGBTQ identity are real and equally, or sometimes more, painful? Do we understand that the more wounds one has, the more sacred ground we are on? It is not a matter of who hurts most: it is a matter of being there for all the wounds, not just the colorful ones. It’s about not reacting with startle and terror, but with humility and curious awe.

We don’t have to fight for a pie, we have fish and loaves, we have the bread of Emmaus, and there’s plenty for all.

Yunuen Trujillo (she/her), April 14, 2024


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