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Black, LGBTQ and female: An examination of womanist queer theology

A day before her convocation Wednesday detailing her experiences in Ferguson, Mo., the Rev. Dr. Pamela Lightsey presented a talk in the Massey Boardroom on a different subject entirely.

As a black woman who identifies both as queer and as a Christian, Lightsey is imminently familiar with binaries which seem to be opposed, yet still somehow intersect.

Binaries, in this case, is a word used to describe absolute, opposite categories, such as male/female, gay/straight, rich/poor, and the societal baggage associated with those categories.

The word “queer,” then, is used by many in the LGBTQ community who don’t identify fully with the given labels associated with gender or sexuality.

“It has been reclaimed from its pejorative use,” she said. “‘Queer’ is now part of the language of the day.”

In her convocation, “Say It Loud! I’m Black and I’m Queer!”, hosted by the sociology department, Lightsey dealt with those binaries while also outlining in brief what womanist queer theology is.

“Womanist theology is the rational study of God in light of the faith of oppressed black women and/or the possible spirituality of black women who self-identify as non-believers,” she said.

Consequentially, she has made it her life’s work to minister to and educate those who find themselves caught in the crossfire of seemingly irreconcilable ideologies.

“It’s only been since 1965 that Jim Crowe has been repealed,” she said. “It is very difficult for some in the black community to hear the word ‘queer.’”

Lightsey is an associate dean at the Boston University College of Theology and a member of the board of directors for Reconciling Ministries Network.

RMN is an organization within the United Methodist Church which seeks to “create full inclusion of all God’s children regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” according to its website.

Her religious background and education were evident as she deconstructed the notion that the Bible is the only means through which we know God, likening that mentality to idolatry and as an enabler to the bigotry which the Bible has historically allowed.

“The Bible is not the word of God, but the inspired word of men about God,” she said.

But beyond the labels of black or queer or even female, however, what Lightsey was ultimately advocating for was a voice for the oppressed.

“Until the lion has its own storyteller, the hunter will always be glorified,” she said.

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