On Tuesday 5th February, St Mary’s was delighted to welcome Dr Susannah Cornwall, Senior Lecturer in Constructive Theologies at the University of Exeter. Her lecture on 'What is Queer Theology?' gave us an insight into issues facing the LGBTQ+ Christian community, and the ways that people have sought to overcome such issues. The question of how one can be a Christian and Queer is more frequently asked then I previously would have imagined. In the lecture we discussed the different meanings of the word 'Queer', how this has changed over time and the implications of this for 'Queer Theology'. Fascinatingly, Dr Cornwall not only presented many interesting facts in her talk (such as that there are now an estimated half a million people in the UK who identify as transgender), but gave a great overview of different contextual theologies and different theories and interpretations of the Bible that Queer theologians have put forward. TT, Year 13
Dr Cornwall’s lecture had particular relevance for our Year 11 and Sixth Form girls, whose recent studies have involved grappling with the issue of homosexuality and the various ways in which Christianity has responded to it. Many girls (and adults) wanted to contribute to the discussion afterwards, and were rewarded by Dr Cornwall’s thoughtful deliberation and response. There was a general consensus that the church as a whole had not served the needs of LGBT Christians, and it was refreshing and important to see their voices represented and their views taken seriously. We were especially interested in the presentation of ‘contextual’ theologies, and debated the extent to which our understanding of God and the Bible is shaped by our own specific cultures, ethnicities, gender or sexuality. There were a few raised eyebrows at the idea that God must be in some way ‘queer’ in order for queer people to relate to Him. Some audience members worried that this would lead to an overly individualistic theology, whereas others agreed that our context will inevitably shape our beliefs.
This was an engaging and provoking lecture, and we are enormously grateful to Dr Cornwall for sharing her expertise with us. It has led to many interesting discussions, both in and out of the classroom, and was a memorable and enriching evening for all. Mr Andrew Colquhoun, Religious Studies Teacher