Jamaica: Lesbian minister in training reaches out to anti-LGBTQ Christians

Angeline Jackson of Jamaica, an LGBTQ rights activist/author and now Unitarian Universalist intern minister, tells how she learned that a part of her ministry is to reach out to anti-LGBTQ Christians.

‘With Wonder’: A Jamaican premier

Reprinted with permission from AngelineJackson.com.

By Angeline Jackson

I pursued ordained ministry for many reasons. By my presence, I want to say “yes, I am a person of faith, I am a lesbian, and I am a minister.” I want LGBTQ people to see that so much was possible – because it is so easy to feel limited by what we see in our world. And, honestly, I want to join a protest wearing my collar and holding one of my cheeky signs.

At some point, I realized that I would also need to engage the friends and family members of LGBTQ folks who could be anywhere from openly hostile to queer folks to fully supportive and all positions in between.

These were all plans for the future — after seminary, after the internship, after my ordination. However, if my life has taught me anything, it is that things hardly unfold the way I plan. So I need to be ready to go when opportunities arise. Such was the case on Friday night [Aug. 19].

Flyer for the Jamaican premier of the documentary “With Wonder”. 

Friday night after the screening of the documentary, “With Wonder”, I was invited to be on a panel with The Right Reverend Garth Minott, Suffragan Bishop of Kingston. [Veteran LGBTQ rights activist Maurice Tomlinson also attended — and provided moral support.]

While the film “With Wonder” addressed the question of being Christian and Queer, I particularly appreciated that the film was not asking IF it was possible. Rather it showed the lives of those who are living the answer, ‘yes, one can be Christian and Queer’.

As I listened to Bishop Minott’s opening remarks, I sat frantically wondering what the heck I going to say. Bishop has years of experience, and the advantage of age (gender and heterosexuality for the Christian brethren in the room). And here was me, a 3rd-year seminarian and woman. Oh right – a lesbian. Also, I am a Unitarian Universalist, not exactly Christian by my fellow country folk’s standard.

The Right Reverend Garth Minott, Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, and Angeline Jackson on the panel after the screening of "With Wonder". Photo by Jalna Broderick.
The Right Reverend Garth Minott, Suffragan Bishop of Kingston, and Angeline Jackson on the panel after the screening of “With Wonder”. (Photo by Jalna Broderick)


A clip from Angeline Jackson’s remarks following the screening of the documentary “With Wonder”. (Video by Jalna Broderick)


Angeline Jackson sharing at the beginning of the panel discussion. (Photo by Maurice Tomlinson)

Yet as I began sharing, I allowed myself to breathe, and as Maurice had whispered, to focus on sharing my personal story in a way that weaved in the documentary. Though I had purchased my collar for the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) training I will begin in the fall, I’m happy I wore the collar to this event as it was a moment for public witness and happened to be the start of realizing the dream of why I came to ministry.

With members of the Love March Movement (a conservative Christian youth NGO) in the audience, I expected the Q&A to include some anti-gay Christian rhetoric and they did not disappoint: Bible verses being flung, the removal of a participant, rewording of the tired “love the sinner hate the sin”, and the possible removal of a second participant.


Angeline Jackson diffusing a situation with an anti-LGBTQ member of the audience. Photo by Jalna Broderick.
Angeline Jackson diffusing a situation with an anti-LGBTQ member of the audience. (Photo by Jalna Broderick)

When I was last in a space with these persons, five years ago, I terribly wanted to kick them out, as they were disruptive and rude. Five years later, my thought was different. Yes, we may have to (and did) remove folks, but suppose we did not have to? As such, when another anti-gay Christian participant began to get disruptive, I was moved (mi spirit tell me seh) to intervene and try to find a solution that would work for everyone.

That moment of deescalation gave me a first-hand experience and reminder of why part of my ministry is to anti-LGBTQ Christians. Not to change their minds, but to see if we could get to a mutual agreement on the inherent worth and dignity of ALL PEOPLE including LGBTQIA people.

Angeline Jackson in her clergy collar at the screening of the documentary “With Wonder”. (Photo by Jalna Broderick)

Sometimes, when we’re low on faith or need a reminder of why we’re doing our work, the Divine will give us just what we need even when we don’t know how to articulate it. Friday night, I saw friends, allies, and fellow activists I had not seen in years. As I shared my story, fielded anti-LGBTQ Christian questions alongside my esteemed colleague Bishop Minott, and deescalated a potential confrontation between Maurice and a member of the Love March Movement, I felt the vibrancy that activism brings move through me. I got a practical example of how my faith as a Unitarian Universalist, my current ministry, my future ordination, and my LGBTQ rights advocacy and expertise all come together to form a coherent picture.

Unitarian Universalist Necklace with rainbow colors
Unitarian Universalist Necklace with rainbow colors

Angeline Jackson is an author, life coach, inspirational speaker, LGBTQ expert witness, seminarian (Christianson Family Scholar at Meadville Lombard Theological School), and intern Minister at Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church.