Elizabeth M. Edman is an Episcopal priest and a lesbian. These two aspects of her identity are stitched into her very soul; they are vitally important, essential aspects of who she is as a person and how she moves about in the world. In Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity, Edman argues that Christianity is inherently queer: it “ruptures” the binaries of life and death, human and divine. Edman also argues that the queer path and the Christian path are not so different from one another. In fact, they are incredibly similar. Both paths involve the discernment of an identity; the reaching out to others and forming of community, despite the risks involved; and the navigation of scandal. Both paths also require that we participate in supportive communities, fight for justice, and “look to the margins” to help those who are less privileged than we are.
As a lesbian who was raised Catholic and who struggled to merge these two identities, Queer Virtue really resonated with me. In this book, Edman affirms, validates, and lifts up queer people. She celebrates queerness; her pride in and love of the queer community is palpable on every page. I loved this. Reading Queer Virtue was an absolute joy. It left me with a sense of hope and several ideas to ponder.
It was refreshing to read about the ways that queer people can benefit Christianity, rather than the other way around. Edman proposed several strategies that progressive Christian communities might adopt in order to become more authentic and hospitable. She advises progressive Christians on how to have healthy pride in their Christian identity and on how to come out as Christians. Most of all, she impresses upon the reader that identifying simultaneously as Christian and as queer makes absolute sense.
Queer Virtue is intelligent, well written, and heartfelt. Edman is honest and forthcoming about her experiences and shortcomings, and she speaks with compassion and a deep understanding of the ways in which queer people have been and are still being hurt by Christians. Queer Virtue is an excellent read for LGBTQ+ people struggling with their faith, for Christians wishing to open up their community to all people, or for anyone interested in Christianity or queerness.
Note: I received a copy of Queer Virtue through a LibraryThing giveaway in exchange for an honest review.