Religious, Young and Queer?

A new project helps LGBT youth accept their identity and spirituality in a new way

Courtesy of Crystal Cheatham

Is it okay to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer – and be a Christian? Crystal Cheatham‘s new book IDentity Kit: For Queer Christian Youth, which was recently released as an e-book, is a guide to help discuss this question and others surrounding gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation. Cheatham, a Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter, not only answers tough questions about sexuality, but also addresses religious questions specifically for teen and young LGBT readers.

Cheatham first launched an initiative to help promote the book called The IDK Project this summer – and now she and fellow performer J Mason III are holding workshops and special trainings this month in Philly. While the workshops are targeted toward young adults, the trainings are designed to educate adults and professionals about how to reach young people who may be struggling with sexuality, gender identity and spirituality.

Some of the major topics? How to come out and start a Queer-Straight Alliance at a school – and how to seek out more affirming churches.

“I wished someone in my youth had given me information on my identity,” says Cheatham, who admits she was inspired to write the book because of her own coming out experience as a queer Christian in her 20s. “It was like going through a second puberty. On top of it all, my church wasn’t there for me – the community I had grown up with as support.”

The first series of IDK Project workshops are being held at the William Way on Sept. 20 and continue through Nov. 29. The IDK Project will also be joining Soulforce, a national nonprofit that focuses on ending the political and religious oppression of the LGBT community, in California to hold workshops for students of La Sierra University, U.C. Riverside and California State College on November 17.

Any questions? Contact the William Way at 215-732-2220.