Religious Toxicity & Its Impact on The LGBTQ+ Community

A dive into how religious organizations continue to negatively impact the queer community both directly and indirectly.

HomoCulture Triston Brewer

This article was published on April 8th, 2021

Despite the significant strides made by the LGBTQ+ community in recent years, there are still many more to overcome, with the freedom of religion remaining a rights issue that continues to be a serious dilemma as it negatively impacts those that live under the umbrella. All too often in religious organizations, the rights of minorities are particularly ignored or discarded by the majority, with exemptions sometimes included to accommodate beliefs or practices that are antagonizing to LGBTQ+ people.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

The weaponization of scripture by churches has done tremendous damage for centuries and the psyches of generations of queer people are still reeling from the effects. Conversely, the many scandals in the church – from priest molestation charges in the Catholic church and the subsequent coverup and more – have torn families apart and created a divide that may never be bridged. 

“All anybody is trying to do is live their lives and be given the service, be treated with respect as anyone else is treated. All we want is equality.”

Religion and Mental Health

In North America, religion has been associated with better mental health outcomes. Research has proven this connection, so it is should come as no surprise that members of the LGBTQ+ community have higher internalized homophobia due to the major religious organizations’ official stance on homosexuality. The majority of religious denominations have enacted strict policies and guidelines against sexual minorities that bar them from leadership positions, condemn same-sex behavior, and refuse to sanction gay marriages.

The effects of these efforts go far beyond the pulpit, reaching into and throughout families and affecting social interactions within communities. Currently the Roman Catholic Church, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the United Methodist Church – which combined represent more than 35% of Americans – endorse such positions, putting them at odds with a huge swath of people both inside and outside of their denominations. 

The disparities in treatment between heterosexual and LGBTQ+ communities has resulted in greater stress and negative health effects that are far reaching and have still yet to be properly addressed. These factors have led in recent years to a mass exodus from religious institutions by the queer community, who are more likely to sever ties than heterosexuals as they receive less support.

Alternately, there has been a sharp rise in the formation of more inclsuive churches that are welcome to non-traditional people and households. This option is just one of the ways in which the LGBTQ+ community has sought to maintain a religious connection without compromising their own beliefs. Although many religious organizations continue to be viewed as major opponents to LGBTQ+ human rights, the hope is that continued discussions will lead to churches becoming allies that advocate for inclusion in the future. 

How Toxic Religion Affects LGBTQ+ Youth

The ramifications of the church on children is particularly devastating, and Pink Planet TV is exploring the effects of toxic religion on youth with the release of the video Growing Up Gay and Catholic – “My Parents Thought Being Gay is a Demonic Cult”.

In the video, Andres Cardenas provides commentary on how growing up as a gay youth in a Catholic home resulted in childhood years filled with confusion, shame, and overwhleming guilt. Cardenas shares stories of self-harm due to Biblical scriptures that condemned who he was: 

“I was looking at gay porn and masturbating to images of the male form and I was actually considering chopping off my hand or chopping out my eye.”

The videos intent is to create dialogue that delves into what the church is doing, what can be done to confront inequality, and the resources available to end this serious problem affecting the LGBTQ+ community.

Have you seen the clip? HomoCulture would like to know your thoughts on this important subject matter by commenting below. 

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