When Winnie Varghese first entered the ministry, she noticed something almost immediately: she did not have any queer Indian role models among her peers.
“I came from a church that was very apolitical, very much about spirituality, having the right values, not being overly consumeristic in this culture, remembering simplicity and where we came from,” Varghese recently told HuffPost while describing the Indian Christian churches she attended growing up in the 1990s. But while her church was rooted in tradition, the Episcopal Church in Texas was having about whether feminism and LGBT people had a place in the faith.
“I had a really profound sense that I’m known and loved by something that was called God,” Varghese said. “So in practice, it didn’t occur to me that I could be anything but a Christian.”
Now the director of justice and reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City, Varghese told HuffPost that one of the proudest moments in her career came when she addressed a group of Christian leaders in India about the impact of homophobia and bigotry on LGBT people.
Varghese has said in other interviews that she sees herself as a resource for other LGBT Christians, particularly those of South Asian descent. I have talked with Indians living in the U.S. and U.S.-born Indians who are gay or lesbian …about their struggles within their families and communities to both indicate the respect they have for their families and their heritage and live freely as who they are,” she told Outlook India in 2014. “The challenges are not truly unique, but as a minority community in the U.S., it is a comfort to talk with people who have some shared understanding of the inner conflict we might feel about making choices that are difficult for our families to accept.”