Queer Faith: Beyond the Gender Binary
June 22 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
This year we’ve witnessed a cavalcade of outrageous legislative assaults against trans and non-binary youth in this country. While we can’t singlehandedly roll back this legislation, what we can do is proclaim the fundamental blessedness of trans and gender expansive people—how deeply God delights and revels in your living into the fullness of who They created you to be. But we wanted some help, so we reached out to an incredible group of trans and non-binary leaders from a variety of faith traditions, and asked them to offer words of comfort, hope and love. The resulting video, Queer Faith: Beyond the Gender Binary, will premiere on the YouTube channel of Middle Member Georgia Bridgers at 7:00 p.m. ET on Thursday, June 22. Georgia will be joined by Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis for an opening blessing, but the remainder of the program will feature community voices, reflecting on how they understand their own faith and gender identity, and proclaiming that fierce, expansive love into a world that too often uses religion to lie about God instead. So if you need a healing balm—if you yearn to hear divine promise gloriously proclaimed—please, join us!
Ray Buckner (they/them) is pursuing their PhD in Religious Studies at Northwestern University. Ray’s current research focuses on two areas of study, first exploring the intersections of Buddhist philosophy and sexual violence within American Buddhism. Ray is also interested in conceptualizing transgender Buddhism, investigating questions of gender dysphoria, corporeality, memory and trauma, and trans desire. In 2020, Ray received their M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from The Ohio State University where they wrote their master’s thesis on sexual violence within an American Buddhist community. Ray is a contributing author at Lion’s Roar Magazine and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, where they write on Buddhism, queer and trans embodiment, mental health, and racial injustice.
Seyi Adebanjo (they/them) is a Queer Gender-Non-Conforming Nigerian MFA artist, who raises awareness around social issues through video, ritual, photography & writing workshops. Seyi’s work exists at the intersection of art, imagination, ritual and politics. Seyiwas recently awarded a residency with The Laundromat Project, NYSCA Individual Artist Grant ,received the BRIO Award and 1 of the 8 Exciting Filmmakers Shaking Up Hollywood by IndieWire. Seyi was nominated for the 2020 Art Matters Fellowship. Seyi’s project’s include Honor Black Trans Womxn! a call to center, protect and celebrate Black Trans Womxn. I AM! We Are Here! illuminates the vitality, spirit & joy of LGBTQ People of Color in the Bronx. Seyi’s powerful short Justice for Islan Nettles has screened on PBS Channel 13, Brooklyn Museum and continues to screen globally. Seyi’s award winning documentary Ọya: Something Happened On The Way To West Africa! is screening globally with a speaking tour.
Ray Buckner (they/them) is pursuing their PhD in Religious Studies at Northwestern University. Ray’s current research focuses on two areas of study, first exploring the intersections of Buddhist philosophy and sexual violence within American Buddhism. Ray is also interested in conceptualizing transgender Buddhism, investigating questions of gender dysphoria, corporeality, memory and trauma, and trans desire. In 2020, Ray received their M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from The Ohio State University where they wrote their master’s thesis on sexual violence within an American Buddhist community. Ray is a contributing author at Lion’s Roar Magazineand Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly, where they write on Buddhism, queer and trans embodiment, mental health, and racial injustice.
Jay Hulme (he/him) is an award winning transgender poet, performer, speaker and educator from the UK. He writes for children and adults and has written a number of books on a broad range of topics
Harmeet Kaur Kamboj (they/them) is a Sikh American interfaith organizer, writer, educator, and the editor of Faith in Full Color. They are a candidate for the Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. Harmeet’s scholarship centers the experiences of marginalized communities of faith in the United States and the ways that these communities organize politically. Their public writing has been featured in the Religion News Service, Sojourners, and Interfaith America. Prior to pursuing an STM, Harmeet worked at America Indivisible, the Public Religion Research Institute, and the Campaign for Youth Justice. They hold a Master of Arts degree from Union Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary. Harmeet teaches South Asian folk and classical dance with the Moksha Arts Dance Company.
Eliana Kayelle (they/them) is a nonbinary/genderqueer rabbinical student, theater maker, and community organizer. They are studying at Pluralistic Rabbinical Seminary and will be ordained this coming December. Along with studying and creating Eliana is also on the steering committee of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action Long Island. Eliana believes in the power of art and self-expression as a way to connect to our ancestors and the world around us. Queering Torah, Judaism, and Spirituality is at their core. Eliana is extremely grateful and honored to be included in this project with Middle Church!
Alesha Borbo Kilayko (she/they) is a storytelling arts educator who is the Children’s Education Specialist at Middle Collegiate Church. Every Sunday, she teaches Christian Bible stories to kiddos aged 5 to 10 with lesson plans that age-appropriately dismantle Western Eurocentric colonialist understandings of Christian faith and amplify the multiethnic, queer theologies of radical social justice work. At the core of her work is to always nurture a space for the kiddos to explore their faiths and lives with curiosity, compassion, and joy. In her downtime, she pursues research that explores theatre as an early intervention tool to mental illness in youth; in 2020, her research conferred her as a Semi-Finalist for the Fulbright Study Grant in the United Kingdom. (She chose not to complete this process due to obvious external reasons.)
Taylor Amari Little (she/he) is the owner, diviner, birthkeeper and artist of (Un)Veiled Divine Technologies, a business primarily rooted in Hoodoo and Islam that exists to reconnect Black lineages and fight for Black Indigenous power. Here, Tay works with her spirits and that of her clients to create handmade prayer blankets, provide prenatal security and care for spirits of Unborn babies, offer a range of divination systems, create writings, Tay in the Water Podcast, talisman art, and operate other spirit-led projects. All work is geared towards serving the spiritual needs of the community and esoteric classes of African-descended peoples. All work she performs, as well as her mere presence, goes to unambiguously Black communities first. You can read more about Tay through tayloramarilittle.com.
Myles Markham (he/him or they/them) is a graduate of Columbia Theological Seminary, the Impact Producer at Multitude Films, an LGBTQ women-led independent documentary company and a Mission Specialist for Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the disaster and refugee response ministry of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Previous to these roles, Myles served as a faith organizer, educator, and consultant on LGBTQ inclusion and racial justice in evangelical communities and maintains a passion for building cross-identity coalitions and other solidarity networks.
Semler (all pronouns) recently became the first openly queer artist to hit number 1 on the iTunes Christian music charts with their EP, Preacher’s Kid. The project explores Semler’s experience growing up as a queer person of faith. Semler has been featured on NPR, The Washington Post and Apple Radio. Preacher’s Kid was recorded independently by Semler on a USB mic and received over a million streams in just a few months.
Lily Solochek (they/them) is the rabbi at Adas Yoshuron Synagogue in Rockland, ME. Rabbi Solochek has been a Jewish educator for more than a decade with a focus on integrating social justice into communities of faith. They are passionate about LGBTQ+ inclusion, workers rights, food justice, and environmentalism. Rabbi Solochek holds degrees from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, The Jewish Theological Seminary, and Brandeis University. Rabbi Solochek lives in Maine with their wife Lanni and adorable ginger cat.