One cool thing about the IDkit is that it highlights DVD’s, organizations, and books that shed light on common issues queer teens encounter when growing up in faith based communities. This month we have a special guest interview from author Jallen Rix, EdD, author of Ex Gay No Way. Along with being an award nominated writer (Rix is among 5 Lambda award finalists in LGBT Nonfiction) Rix is also a sexologist and he has been open in an exclusive interview about teens, faith, and sexuality. Over the span of three posts we will read his unique and encouraging words on queer-Christian issues.
Sex, Taboo, and Growing Up
Q: Crystal Cheatham
A: Jallen Rix EdD
Part 3: ON CHURCH
Q: A 2009 publication in Newsweek titled The End of Christianity predicted that due to dwindling church membership, Christianity will be obsolete in America in our lifetime. Do you see a correlation between the church’s denial of queer believers and this statement? In other words, do you think that the church is basically cutting off the hand that feeds them by denying that there is legitimacy (biblically and literally) to queer orientations?
A: Yes. As the saying goes, if all the LGBTQ people one day stopped doing their work and ministry in the church, all of Christendom would come to a stand still.
Q: Having grown up in the church what can you say about dwindling church membership? What do you think Christian churches are missing out on by ignoring and even rejecting their LGBTQ parishioners?
A: I don’t understand how the church can be so blind, but they still seem totally oblivious that they have become the modern day Pharisees – those who abandon the unconditional love of God for the power of an institution and legalism. God’s love excludes no one, and yet it is those who say they “know” God that proudly cast LGBTQ people out of their churches. Why they can’t see it is beyond me.
Q: If you had had someone to affirm both your orientation and your spiritual development, what life hardships do you think you would have avoided.
A: I think I would have become my own person at an earlier age. Because I felt that the voices in my head were so often my parent’s voices, or the church’s voice, or my “rebel’s” voice (asking questions and fighting against these authorities), that it felt as though they all completely drowned out any developing voice of my own. It was not until late in my 20’s (while in regular therapy) that all the noise finally quieted and I began to recognize my own unique personality.
Q: What did you hope to accomplish by writing and publishing “Ex-Gay No Way?”
A: I tried to write my story in such a way that anyone could read it and relate to some of my experience growing up gay in the American church culture. The message seems to be effective since I am occasionally receiving emails from straight people who might not “get” the gay thing, but they sure can relate to abusive kinds of religion. This has made me feel incredible. Most of all, I wrote Ex-Gay No Way for those who have gone through the ex-gay movement, found that not only did their sexuality stay gay, but the ex-gay practices truly damaged them, and now, they don’t know what to do to pick up the pieces. This book and my story can be a support and guide for them.
Q: How does it feel to know that you have been nominated for a LAMBDA award?
A: Wow! It was a total surprise. I believe there were 38 books in the non-fiction category and to be selected as one of the top 5 for 2010 was so far beyond anything I had expected. It was a great honor (and it don’t look bad on the resume, neither).