Student establishes safe haven for LGBTQIA+ Christians


Symiah Dorsey

Junior music major Taleya Jordan stands inside the Southeastern Wesley Foundation’s Methodist Church, the location for the weekly Queer Communion meetings. Jordan created the group as a safe space for queer Christians to come together for bible study every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

With the largest Christian population in the world, the United States is home to nearly 250 million people pursuing the Christian faith.

The pursuit of faith in America has proven to be as diverse as its people. Christianity has taken on many faces, and in recent years, two groups have been at the forefront of faith-based conversations: progressive and conservative Christians.

While both terms can be deemed too broad to accurately represent all Christians, many individuals lean towards a progressive faith that emphasizes social justice and emulating the love of Jesus, while others lean towards a conservative faith that emphasizes traditional values informed by a more strict interpretation of biblical teachings.

As a rift between progressive and conservative Christians continues to grow, some faith-seeking individuals have begun to fall through the cracks, feeling misrepresented or unseen by society.

Taleya Jordan, a third-year music student, has embarked on a long journey of reconciling her Christian faith and her identity as a bisexual woman.

Jordan grew up in the church. Her father was a pastor and her mother was a worship leader. As Jordan entered her teenage years, she began to form questions on topics that were suppressed inside her Southern Baptist community.

“At that point, I wasn’t coming to terms with my own sexuality. I was a ‘straight, Christian ally,’ that’s what I would say. I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I might not be straight. I felt like I couldn’t have a relationship with God and be gay or bisexual. It took one of the girls in my youth group coming out for me to say ‘maybe this is okay,’ because I’d never seen someone gay in the church,” Jordan said.

One particular instance moved Jordan to further explore faith and sexuality.

“Another girl came out, and she was unfortunately refused baptism because of her sexuality. She came out to the youth pastor and wanted to get baptized, and he said ‘You can get baptized, but only if you are straight,’” Jordan said.

With more time on her hands during the pandemic, Jordan began to watch livestreams from other churches. She soon found gay-affirming churches, ones with LGBTQIA+ pastors and clergymen.

Although Jordan’s views often align with progressive Christianity, she said ‘affirming Christian’ is the best way to describe her faith.

“I believe in God. I know there is a God. I still want to go to church. I just want to go to a church that is an affirming church. Not necessarily a progressive Christian church, but just an affirming church that isn’t afraid to be like ‘yes, gay people are being mistreated in the church, but that’s not going to happen here,’” Jodan said.

Jordan experienced her own heartbreak along her journey, which she often soothed with her love for music. In August of 2021, Jordan released her first album titled “Suffer in Silence.”

“I have a song ‘Your name is not a weapon.’ It came out of my prayer journal. In my prayer, I said ‘God, your name is not a weapon.’ I pray for these people who use your name as a weapon. Conservative, progressive, whatever – there are a lot of people who use God’s name as a weapon to dehumanize people. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, God’s name is not a weapon,” she said.

To build the safe space she often felt deprived of, Jordan founded Queer Communion, a bible study group that meets at the Wesley Foundation every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“For people who can’t find a space like this in a church, I want them to find it here. There are some people who will not even step in a church because of church trauma or religious trauma, and they won’t even give church a chance. This could be a very good opportunity to let them know it’s okay to be yourself within a church and have a relationship with God,” Jordan said.

Queer Communion’s first meeting was held last Wednesday, on Oct. 6 inside the Wesley chapel.

Katherine Buffington, a sophomore chemistry major, attended the gathering and said she felt grateful for a community that validates her experiences.

She said, “It’s definitely important to have a space where you can still be queer and also be able to grow your faith because in such a religion where ‘gays are going to hell’ is preached so heavily, it’s really good to have a place where you can hear ‘God loves you.’ People say there’s no hate like Christian love, but I truly believe that in some places, Christian love is all you can have.”