When God is Not Enough
Alternative ways QTBIPOC reconcile spirituality, cultural identity, and queerness.
by Robbie Ahmed
Author’s note: I initially wrote this article to explore queer people’s fascination with tarot, and other ways our communities find alternatives to organized religion. However, upon my interviews I landed on something deeper that motivated folks’ spiritual journeys — a strive for cultural reclamation and affirmation. I hope you enjoy this interactive piece.
According to resilience researcher, Michael Ungar at Dalhousie University, spirituality and a strong sense of identity are integral in building resilience in youth across cultures. For queer and trans people, the relationship with organized religion can be strained, especially when teachings are often used as a basis of prosecution against the LGBTQ community.
As an increasing number of LGBTQ members start identifying as atheist, their people of colour counterparts struggle to remove religious practices from their cultural identities entirely.
Self-identified terms such as “Muslim-Atheist,” signify that religion plays a strong part in cultural practices, with certain religious traditions/clothes such as headcovers being an integral part of traditional clothing whether the person is practicing of their religion or not.
For others, religion is still integral to their sense of community and acts as a source of strength.
So, how do QTBIPOC find a sense of spirituality outside of organized religions, that does not divorce them from their cultural identity?
While some queer people of colour have learned to find more progressive sects such as United Churches and Mosques, other queer people of colour in North America have found alternative and decolonized ways to reconcile their spirituality and queerness. These practices brought them even closer to their cultural identity and roots.
Explore some of their accounts below by clicking on different sections of the room!
Of course, spiritual and religious practices extend far beyond the ones listed. In understanding the unique ways queer people seek spirituality that is simultaneously connected to their roots and identities, we create alternative narratives to the way we can exist and survive in the world. Even if organized religion is not an option for some, there are many ways in which folks still find strength in their spiritual practices and connect to their cultural identities and practices.