I received an ARC of this book through Netgalley
Unashamed by Amber Cantorna
Paperback, 160 pages
CW: Christianity based homophobia and transphobia, abuse
On a daily basis, author and LGBTQ advocate Amber Cantorna receives emails asking the same question: How does one reconcile their sexuality with their faith? Depression, despair, and thoughts of suicide often haunt LGBTQ Christians as they feel unable to imagine the possibility of living a happy, fulfilling life as an LGBTQ person of faith.
As the gay daughter of a thirty-plus-year executive of conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, Amber lost everything when she came out as gay in 2012. However, her journey to embrace her authenticity brought her fulfillment and wisdom to share. Unashamed serves as a guide for Christians considering coming out, tackling tough subject matters such as demolishing internalized homophobia, finding an affirming faith community, reestablishing your worth as a child of God, navigating difficult family conversations (especially in cases where family is involved in church leadership/ministry), and healing from the pain of rejection. Unashamed encourages LGBTQ Christians to embrace their unique identities and to celebrate the diversity placed inside them by God.
I read Unashamed on the way to drop my brother off at Bible camp so while I am no longer Christian, I still had to come to term with my queerness as a Christian and I had to come out to my Christian family.
When I was first figuring things out I wasn’t aware of any resources on being queer and Christian and coming out was way outside the realm of possibilities. A book like this one would have been a godsend for 14 years old me. It’s a great starting point for respectful discussions in the church and to tackle the challenges of being queer around Christians.
This book does a great job of showing the reader how to build a strong and affirming support system in a Christian community. It goes over the different levels of acceptance you can find in a church and gives tips on how to find a church that is not only accepting, but affirming.
There is a good balance between terrible, medium, and great coming out stories. The book is realistic in its portrayal of Christian responses to queer people, without portraying either extreme as the only possibility.
The focus stays on the physical, emotional, and spiritual safety of the person coming out. I particularly enjoyed the chapter on dealing with conditional love.
I wish there had been more examples of coming out scripts or conversations in addition to coming out narratives.
A lot of the advice doesn’t apply to people who don’t have any queer affirming Christians around them or who can’t decide what church to attend. There is also a real lack of advice specifically for teens, which are the group most likely to be forced to stay in non-affirming spaces.
I wish the book would have directly challenged common anti-queer biblical arguments instead of only recommending other books. It’s important for queer people to be able to be able to present that information to family when needed.
Because the author believes that scripture isn’t anti-queer, the reader must also share that belief to really benefit from the book. There are not many affirmative arguments that do not rely on the Bible.
Would I recommend it?
To adult queer Christians who want to come out, absolutely. For teens and ex-Christians it’s a good start, but it shouldn’t be your only resource.