‘The Congregational Music of a Queer Christian Youth’Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth (2011-13)http://queerreligiousyouth.wordpress.com/Yvette Taylor, email@example.com @YvetteTaylor0RiaSnowdon, firstname.lastname@example.org @RiaSnowdon
Participants • 38 participants (Newcastle, Manchester, London) • 17-34 years old (mean age 24) • 19 participants identified as female (19), male (15), gender-queer (2), gender-queer and transgender (1), and transsexual female-to-male(1). • 15 participants identified as gay, lesbian (13), bisexual (5), queer (4), and asexual (1).
Participants • CofE (6), Methodist (3), Catholic (2), Quaker (2), Charismatic (1), Ecumenical (1), Evangelical (1). • 2 Unitarians (Pagan and Buddhist leanings). • MCC (15 participants): within which some identified as CofE (3), Catholic (2), Greek Orthodox (1), Methodist (1). • 5 did not attend a church, attended a non-denominational church (other than MCC), did not know or did not identify with the denomination of their church.
Tradition versus modern … I’m not an organist, I’m a pianist, and it’s the first time they’ve had someone who’s not an organist, so it’s quite a lot of change anyway, for them. I think they are coming round but it’s just about taking it slowly and making sure everybody knows what you’re doing all the time, which I didn’t do at first, I was quite immature when I started the job so it was just sort of like, I leapt right in and I’ve had to take it back and get people gradually used to things. (Tom, 20, Manchester)
Tradition versus modern I’m supposed to be trying to play some more contemporary worship music to encourage students to come, and the first time I tried to do it, like, three of the older people in the congregation came up and complained afterwards… now they’ve said that they understand and they don’t complain so much about me doing it, but they still complain about it in general, but they think that’s okay because they think that I won’t mind if they say, ‘Oh well, the songs aren’t very good but we understand why you have to do that’ but it’s a bit annoying. (Tom, 20, Manchester)
Tradition versus modern They had a whole youth programme that we went to and people spoke in tongues, and fell over on the floor, and the music was like proper rock music and it was just really different from any experience of church I’d ever had. (Claire, 24, Newcastle)
MCC … like some of the ways the songs were rewritten, so that there wasn’t this insistence on God being ‘he’; that was very alien to us, at first. I think now we’re used to it and we forget that that might still be alien to people. Just the use of inclusive language can be quite confusing - not confusing but strange when you’re used to hearing God being described as ‘male’ and ‘father’ all the time. We really liked it, we had a really good experience. (Claire, 24, Newcastle)
MCC … it’s like all of the people who have been thrown out of churches, making their own churches, if that makes sense, so you get people like me who like really loud music and singing in spirit and very kind of evangelical things, and then you’ve got Catholics and Protestant and Mormons and people from everywhere that do things in such traditional, non-traditional, sometimes a little bit traditional but it’s not the end of the world, it’s like a really eclectic mix, it’s really exciting but also weird because you’ve got to fit it all in… (Nicola, 21, Newcastle)
MCC I hate worship bands, because I’m a classically trained singer so worship bands to me are hell (Laughter). Like I want a bit of Thomas Taliss, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’ and all of that sort of stuff, not a 4-chord piece that goes on for 8 minutes and doesn’t do anything. (Laughter). (Rebecca, 22, Newcastle)
Choirs and bands For a start it’s very physically helpful to me because I have asthma and it helps regulate my breathing, posture, and it helps my mental health as well because we’re always joking in our choir and there are some very dirty minds in there, as well! But no, I have a lot of fun with it and I’ve always loved singing. And it also helps me work my mind a bit which I don’t get a lot of chance to do since I haven’t been working. (Tracey, 26, Manchester)
Choirs and bands I feel like when I sing it’s the easiest way for me to talk to God. It’s a really important thing for me and if I got to a church and maybe don’t like the music then it does have an impact on how I feel. If I was to go to a church and the music wasn’t the sort that I like then I wouldn’t be very inclined to go back. (Stephanie, 29, Newcastle)
Choirs and bands … I would probably say I’m not a Christian because I don’t think I’m going to Heaven… Basically, God gave me the choice: he says ‘you can either stay with your girlfriend… and sort of outwardly gay and act like that or you can kind of push that part of you out and take me in, make space for me and in that case you would be very Christian’. And I said ‘no, I love my girlfriend and I want to be with her and if that means I’m not going to do what you think’s right so be it’. I don’t think it’s wrong but I understand that he thinks it’s wrong. (Susan, 19, Newcastle)
Choirs and bands ‘Pretty privileged really, I was able to have music lessons and things, so we weren’t too short..’ (Andrea, 24, Newcastle) ‘I did a lot of music, my sister did a lot of art, neither of which are cheap things to do, and I do come from a well off...it is a well off family.’ (Neil, 27, Manchester) ‘I think another part of, like, my parents being in the sort of upper middle-class society is that it was normal for your child to learn an instrument.’ (Tom, 20, Manchester)
Making Space for Queer Identifying Religious Youth http://queerreligiousyouth.wordpress.com/Yvette Taylor, email@example.com @YvetteTaylor0Ria Snowdon, firstname.lastname@example.org@RiaSnowdon