Religious Trauma in the LGBTQIA+ Community
Y’all, hey! So, it’s been three months since I’ve made a blog post, and for me, that feels like forever. Because it’s been so long since I’ve written, I’ll start this post with a few updates. I recently finished the first year of my Ph.D. program in Mind-Body Medicine and started my second year this week. I’m preparing to add two new skills to Revitalizing Inner Self Essence service offerings. These include Pranic Healing and Alchemy singing bowls. Lastly, I’ve been thinking about relaxation, specifically how to use Mind-Body Medicine tools to create more space for these in life. More to come on these topics very soon, but I’m working y’all.
For now, let’s transition to what it’s been on my mind and in my spirit. For the past three months, the LGBTQIA+ community has been heavily on my mind. I’m a Black, queer therapist, for those who don’t know. I think about our community often, but lately, I’ve been thinking about trauma and resilience. I love that the world has increased communication about the difficulty of identity-based trauma in the LGBTQIA+ community. So much so that I want to add to this conversation by discussing a source of trauma within the LGBTQIA+ community.
Religion and Religious Dogma
The thing about religious dogma is that it identifies right and wrong. Identification of right and wrong is created by labeling certain behaviors as sinful. For queer folk, there is a clear hierarchy of sin that puts queer relationships above things like robbery. It’s as if society can forgive theft, and maybe it is understood that the robber’s past was traumatic, but let your child be queer; now the world is coming to an end. When this happens, queer folk are not only told that loving whomever they love is wrong, but that who they are is wrong. So wrong that they will be punished for their sin(s) with eternal damnation or persecution. For Christians, religious dogma says that this internal damnation means that they will burn forever in a lake of fire. A lake of fire. Forever.
Did that comment create a visual for you? If so, this visual is the picture that queer folk have about the outcome of their time on Earth. This visual is not only devastating, but it is traumatizing.
A Black Queer Therapist’s Take on the Impact of Religious Trauma
We don’t talk about the depth of loss with religion for some queer folk. Religion and religious dogma have been used as justification to deny LGBTQIA+ folks basic human rights. These human rights include respect, autonomy, safety, food, shelter, gender-neutral language, intentional misuse of pronouns, denial of employment, and more. Religious dogma has also been used as a metric to determine salvation. Being queer is not something from which queer folk need saving, but we do need support.
Also, in many ways, religion, for some, is the first loss they experience. Most often, a queer person knows or is questioning their queerness before they share it with others. A queer person that has been raised with a religious upbringing is very well aware of the teachings of religious works and the viewpoints of their family members. Considering this, before a queer person “comes out,” they are often grappling with their religion and spirituality. They know that religious dogma teaches persecution, and their choice to be true is also a choice to separate from religious dogma. This separation, for many queer people, is their first loss.
Religious dogma, sinful labels, and an invisible hierarchy of sin create a myriad of issues, one being dissonance. This dissonance is between how queer folk see themselves and how we show ourselves to the world. For many, these are two different selves, thus creating dissonance.
Examples of Loss
Religious trauma has a reverberating impact for some, especially queer people of color because it’s filled with loss. These losses may include:
- Loss of family and friendships
- Decreased social connection
- Lower self-confidence
- Increased isolation
- Identity Confusion
- Loss of Self
- Increased self-doubt and unworthiness
- Decreased spiritual connection
- Detachment from religion or spirituality
- Increased feelings of dislike, anger, or hatred for religion.
- Feelings of guilt and shame
The impact of religious dogma is deeply felt and is seen in feelings of guilt. Oxford Languages defines guilt as “having committed a specified or implied offense or crime .”In other words, guilt is a feeling that something you did is bad, wrong, or unacceptable. When you create a hierarchy of sin, you imply that everything on the list is bad but that the things or actions at the top of the list are very bad. Many queer folks have wrestled with the idea that engaging in and with their queerness is bad. Many have tried to resolve these feelings by fixing them. This fixing could take many forms, such as increased privacy, changing dating partners, exploring other religions, or punishing themselves.
Shame and guilt are often discussed interchangeably but are very different. Oxford Languages defines shame as “a feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness or wrong or foolish behavior .”In other words, guilt is “I did something wrong/bad,” while shame is “I am wrong/bad .”Shame is an internal destructor. It is a feeling that causes the questioning of your identity, core, purpose, capability, and worthiness. Many queer folks experience shame because we live in a world that sends messaging that existing as ourselves is wrong. This messaging leads to worthiness, self-belief, identity, anxiety, and depression struggles.
Religion and religious dogma are a source of trauma for many queer folks. Trauma, at its core, creates disconnection. This disconnection creates emotional turmoil and mental confusion. I see it. I see you. No longer can we as a community sit by allowing the impact of this trauma to reverberate. We deserve the tools to heal. This is how we take our power back.
Show up as your authentic self in Trauma Therapy with a Black queer therapist in Baltimore, MD
Being queer is being brave enough to stand up as your authentic self in a world that judges you. This bravery deserves support and empowerment. LGBTQIA+ voices must be amplified. The truth is, writing this blog post was difficult. But suffering in silence in this painful world is even more difficult. The truth is: queer folk don’t have enough welcoming spaces, let alone a welcoming space to truly heal from trauma. Counseling at our Baltimore, MD therapy practice is a safe space for you, created by one of you. As a Black queer therapist, I understand you. I hear you, and I journey with you.
You have spent too much of your life feeling lost. You’re not lost. You’ve been intentionally misled. Now, it’s time to take your power back and pick your path with intention. You don’t have to do this alone. I’ve helped other folks reach healing at Revitalizing Inner Self Essence. It would be an honor to help you, too.
If you are ready to get started, follow these three steps:
- Questions? Reach out to me using the contact form.
- No questions but ready to get started? Connect with me, Christina, by scheduling a consultation appointment to see if we are a good match.
- Start working through the pain and freeing yourself from the past.
Other Therapy Services in Baltimore, MD
As a Black queer therapist in Baltimore, MD, I am passionate about advocating for Black and LGBTQ+ folks. I use a variety of holistic skills in trauma therapy, including Mind-Body Medicine and EMDR therapy. And I have extensive knowledge and experience working with survivors of homicide and domestic violence.