Young, Gay and Christian?
It’s not going to throw anyone for a loop to hear that Christianity and homosexuality don’t exactly mix an ideal spiritual cocktail, but writer Crystal Cheatham is on a mission to teach local youth that the combo can actually be quite intoxicating. Taking up residence this week in Rittenhouse’s Church of the Holy Trinity, Cheatham’s non-profit, the Identity Kit Project (IDK Project), is a hub of education materials that inform “on topics of gender identity, expression, orientation and spirituality in religious atmospheres.”
“I was raised in the fundamentalist background,” says Cheatham, whose pedigree boasts a long line of pastors, “and when I came out [a youth leader told me] I had to choose between my faith and sexual orientation.” But then she moved to Philly, where she found that, even when immersed in a thriving queer community, “the principles she grew up with were still true to me.” So she began to find ways to help make the two worlds meet and combat negative stereotypes that Christianity can sometimes attach to homosexuality.
The Identity Kit Project revolves around Cheatham’s IDentity Kit: For Queer Christian Youth, a “community center in a box” that contains a booklet, “discovery cards” and a host of games that are meant to “spark discussions about faith … and other socio-economical issues that inhibit a young adult’s ability to view the their personal identity as positive.” The colorfully designed kits are meant to be utilized in two ways: They can be individually mailed to kids growing up in churches that don’t accept gay culture, or distributed to teachers, youth pastors or community centers that want to host gay-youth-empowering workshops of their own. In fact, The Attic Youth Center kicked off a six-week workshop this week.
You can visit the IDK Project website for info on upcoming workshops — which are taking place all over the country — details on how to order a kit or to make a donation.