Queer Sacred Music?
If queer sacred music sounds like something that would lift your spirits, strengthen your hope, and inspire you to transform both yourself and the world for the better, read on! I encourage you to start with the "Start Here" page to get your bearings, then head to the subpages for free scores, broadcast-ready and scratch recordings, YouTube videos, comments on language use in the hymns and songs, and information about me. One subpage explains that all of the music is free-use and no-licensing; another breaks out the hymns, worship songs, and rounds by musical style, while yet another discusses the fact that I write in African American musical idioms sometimes and reflects on how I seek to be accountable when I do so. You will also find a message from another inclusive worship material writer in the United Kingdom and a page with information about the Progressive Christian Artists Network.
If queer sacred music sounds like an oxymoron, a sacrilege, or a mockery, consider the following:
1) Queer people (broadly defined) have had a relationship with the holy, the ground of our being, our ultimate concern, or whatever other term you prefer for the Mystery since time immemorial and sometimes we write music (songs, hymns, and rounds) about it - to celebrate, to worship, to give thanks, to mourn, to secure ourselves for hard times ahead, to connect with others, and because both music and queerness are wonderful things.
2) The idea that queerness - homosexuality, bisexuality, various forms of gender creativity - is inherently profane or the antithesis of holiness was dreamed up by people who either didn't know any LGBTQ+ people or didn't know that some of the gifts that blessed their lives came from LGBTQ+ people.
3) Heterosexism, homophobia, biphobia, sexism, cis-sexism, and transphobia have caused us queer people a lot of harm and still do today. Some of us have responded to this harm, which is especially visited on us by conservative religious people, by rejecting any and all forms of religion. This is a healthy form of self-loving. And some of us have refused to reject religion or have sought it out in order to better wrestle with social messages about whom God does and does not love. For many of us, struggling against social inequality has deepened us spiritually regardless of our religious affiliations or lack thereof. And for some of us, that spiritual deepening is expressed in sacred music.
4. Sacred music by and for queer folks is not intended as a mockery. Far from it: it is what we do with our devotion, our joy, our gratitude, our mourning, our righteous anger. Queer sacred music comes from our deepest selves. Even when it is playful, it is absolutely a serious project.
5. Queer sacred music is for everyone, not just for queer religious people. All of my hymns and songs can be sung by heterosexual people who consider themselves part of religious traditions that are fully inclusive of queer people, or who belong to traditions that are not so inclusive but who worship in inclusive congregations.
6. While I compose queer worship music out of my queer (bisexual) sexuality and androgynous gender identity, there are many ways to be queer beyond sexuality and gender identity. Anyone who belongs to social groups devalued by the culture, institutions, and interactions of our society is queer in a certain sense even if they would not find the word helpful. This includes members of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of color) communities, women, poor people, religious minorities, undocumented immigrants, and many others. The music on this website is for anyone who is socially marginalized, culturally devalued, and/or institutionally punished for any reason. And the music on this website is for anyone with power, status, and privilege who wishes to live in solidarity with the oppressed, devalued, and threatened. Hopefully, that includes most of us one way or another!