By Amy Sutton /// Staff Writer
Religion and the LGBTQ community aren’t often associated with one another. More likely, they are seen as oppositional forces. However, Nicole Calande (’16) de- fies these assumptions. She recently joined up with United Sexualities and Interfaith Council to create “Spiritual Que(e)ry,” aimed at introducing members of the LGBTQ community to spiritual organizations that welcome them.
“Spiritual Que(e)ry is oriented toward LGBTQ and questioning students who want to explore the intersections of sexual and gender identity and spiritual identity,” Hil- ary Martin-Himan said, an intern at the office of Religious and Spiritual life who helped Calande create the group.
Spiritual Que(e)ry is a new organization on campus. There are no weekly meetings or obliga- tions, rather, they periodically host speakers and field trips that all students are encouraged to attend. Calande and Martin-Himan started the group this semester, and while they are still finding their footing as a club, they have already brought speakers to campus and organized field trips to spiritual groups in town. This weekend, they are plan- ning a retreat to Camp Adams in Molalla.
The retreat is open to anyone interested in exploring spirituality within the LGBTQ community, regardless of religious affiliation. Activities will focus on participants getting to know each other, medita- tion, movie nights and hiking. The goal of the retreat is to get people comfortable thinking about spiritu- ality within the community.
Calande says she wants Spiritual Que(e)ry to focus on outreach and venturing off campus through such retreats and field trips. She be- lieves that Lewis & Clark can have an anti-religious sentiment, and she hopes the group will help change students’ perspectives by “getting them out of the LC bubble.”
Not only that, but Calande hopes it will also help LGBTQ students explore new spaces.
She thinks that members of the LGBTQ community tend to stick to familiar spaces, but hopes the club will break that trend. “There is an assumption that you can’t feel comfortable in spiritual spaces if you’re queer,” she said. “We have to stop having bubbles of queer spaces.”
So far, the group has esplored this by attending a sermon at the Metropolitan Community Church on March 16. Started in Califor- nia in the 1960s, Metropolitan Community Churches are a series of nationwide churches that are accepting toward the LGBTQ community and strive to make a comfortable place for them within the spiritual community. In Port- land, the Metropolitan Community Church is led by Pastor Nathan Meckley, who is gay. “The Metro- politan Community Church was one of the most queer-inclusive places I’ve been in my life,” Ca- lande said. The church is Christian affiliated and most people involved are queer, but it is an inclusive space where everyone is welcome to worship.
In addition to the field trip, Spiritual Que(e)ry brought Rever- end Tara Wilkins on March 17 to speak on campus. Wilkins is the executive director of the Commu- nity of Welcoming Congregations, an interfaith ministry based in Oregon and Washington aimed at providing inclusion and equality for LGBTQ people. In addition, she is an out lesbian and a member of the United Church of Christ.
Upcoming events will include other faiths as well. The group plans on going to a Passover service on April 19 at P’Nai Or, a local synagogue with a bisexual rabbi. Then, they are going to Dharma Rain Zen Center, a Bud- dhist temple with a lesbian priest, on April 23. Calande wants the group to explore groups of many different faiths, and wants to orga- nize field trips to Muslim mosques, Hindu temples and Pagan organi- zations.
Calande’s Catholic background encouraged her to find welcoming spiritual spaces after feeling unwel- come in traditional atmospheres. “It’s important to have that area of expression available to you,” she said.
So far, Spiritual Que(e)ry has been well-received in the LC community, though some people were confused by the collaboration between religion the LBGTQ com- munity. They are still trying to get the word out, but attendance has been rising for each of their events. If you are interested in joining Spiritual Que(e)ry on one of their field trips, email United Sexuali- ties at US@lclark.edu to be put on their mailing list.