A-Slay-ing Grace supports LGBTQ+ community

Although meetings are moved to a virtual setting, Marshall’s UKIRK campus ministry continues the support group, “A-Slay-ing Grace”, to provide support and LGBTQ+ representation through media and biblical acknowledgment to members and allies.  

The group, created in spring 2018, talks about rejection from family and faith communities, queer biblical figures of faith, media representation and resources during biweekly one-hour meetings.  

Leader of the support group and Marshall UKIRK minister, Chris Bailey, said he wants people of the LGBTQ+ community to be comfortable with their faith journey and he “understands the church has done a lot of harm to the community.” 

“Unless you grew up in a progressive church, the church you likely grew up in is just now having these realizations about sexuality and gender identity,” Bailey said. “There is most likely a LGBTQ+ member in your church, so if you are waiting until you know that they are it might be too late.” 

Emma Rau, sophomore geography major, said they were “lucky to have a pretty accepting church,” but was not open about their sexuality.  

“I think there is this idea that all true Christians are conservative and close-minded, but I think that a true Christian is actually very open-minded and accepting,” Rau said. 

Bailey said he “relies” on LGBTQ+ members and books about queer faith to provide appropriate information to the support group.  

“As a straight ally, I know there is a limit in terms of me telling other people stories,” Bailey said. 

“My queer colleagues talk about their personal experiences directly to the students.” 

Bailey said he always starts the new semester with the discussion of Acts 8:26-40, the story of Philip who told an Ethiopian eunuch [a castrated male] the gospel of Jesus – which led to a baptism. 

“For the LGBTQ+ community, especially those that are still actively people of faith, it is such an important story because it is one of inclusion and acknowledges the reality of the pain that they experience,” Bailey said. 

Bailey said identity is also available through media representations – one example being superheroes. 

“Many superheroes are straight white males and have been considered the ideal hero for a long time,” Bailey said. “Wonder Woman, a member of LGBTQ+, is making it apparent to youth and young adults that their stories are worth being told.”

Xena Bunton can be contacted at [email protected]