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Qu(e)erying Religion creates supportive and healthy space

University of Toronto program tackles contradictions and difficulties of being both gay and of faith

At the Qu(e)erying Religion Interfaith Panel on Queerness and Education, at University of Toronto’s Multifaith Centre. Left to right: Lali Mohammed, Kelly Colwell, JP Catungal, Pallavi Suresan and Ralph Carl Wushke.

Queer students of faith have been getting support for the past 10 years thanks to the Ecumenical Chaplaincy at University of Toronto (ECUT).

In 2005, ECUT chaplain Ralph Carl Wushke launched the Qu(e)erying Religion (QR) program at U of T with a group of LGBT students. Since then, QR has sponsored interfaith film festivals, dinner discussions, support groups and panels exploring the complicated intersection of gender identities, sexual orientations, faith, religion and spirituality.

Dr JP Catungal, a key QR leader during his student years, says, “As a Roman Catholic gay man, I became part of QR because I embody and experience the contradictions and difficulties of being both gay and of faith — an uneasy position given that there are not very many spaces where I can be both, at once, in a supportive and healthy way.”

In 2013, ECUT launched the Fund for Gender, Sexuality and Faith in Campus Ministry to secure QR for future generations of students with a gala launch featuring guest performers Vivek Shraya, Farzana Doctor and Kwame Stephens.

ECUT is supported by the Presbyterian Church in Canada and the United Church of Canada.

For more information, visit utoronto.ca/ecut.