Most mainstream congregational education programs that affirm lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people focus on sexual orientation identity and diversity to serve the goal of inclusion. This approach is clearly helpful for sexual and gender minorities struggling against the oppressive assumptions of a “straight” majority.
That kind of approach, however, neglects the multiple layers of marginalization experienced by Asian and Pacific Islander (API) people who also identify with LGBT sensibilities. This is also the case for any community facing the overlapping identities marked by race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and gender. LGBT people of color frequently experience profound conflicts in trying to navigate those multiple identifications, especially in Christian congregations where racial/ethnic belonging provides a communal space not only to survive but thrive.
This curriculum focuses on the API experience of, and commitment to, extended family in community. API families are often extended families in both blood and community, which differs significantly from the dominant model of the nuclear family in the United States. Given this experience of an extended family, it is quite likely that an API individual will be vaguely aware of at least one family member who identifies as LGBT, be it a cousin, an aunt, a niece, an uncle, a nephew, or a long-time neighbor.
This curriculum can be helpful for other racial/ethnic, regional, rural communities that value the extended family as well. In these materials, the educational process does not rely on questions of identity and difference but rather on questions of relationship and connection. How then do we treat each other properly like family members? All other aspects related to LGBT concerns – what it means to be a Christian community, how to use the Bible responsibly, how to think ethically about human sexuality, how to face changing communal realities, and so on – will be addressed from that foundation of relationship and connection.
In that light, all of the sessions in this curriculum involve both “nurturing” and “nudging.” The goal of this program is thus two-fold: to nurture the familial bonds of faith in Christian communities and to nudge those same communities toward an even more expansive view and embrace of faith family relations.