Queer stories aren’t just about surviving trauma

How a trans, non-binary youth minister is creating safe communities for teens within the church.

By: D.W. Waterson, director of Devout + Out: Cormac

Devout + Out is a three-part series about openly LGBTQ leaders in the church. Devout + Out: Cormac tells the story of Cormac, a queer, trans, non-binary youth minister in Toronto.

I’ve encountered countless stories about how hard it is to be queer — the struggles we’ve endured, the torment. Most stories conclude with an individual rising out of the suffering.

But queer people aren’t limited to being survivors of trauma. I’m not interested in hearing more about the struggles of what it means to be queer; I believe that endless exposure to these traumatic stories will actually deter queer youth from coming out. This is why I made a deliberate choice that my episode of Devout + Out would not solely revolve around the damage a person experienced in their life.

Cormac is a queer, trans, non-binary youth minister in Toronto who is working to turn a church space into an LGBTQ2-supporting space that acts as an inclusive community for teens. Meeting Cormac and learning about their life offered me an outstanding model of what a queer story can look like when we peer beyond the anguish.

Cormac’s journey sets an example of how religious organizations (and society as a whole) can reduce the trauma that young people experience when coming out to their community. Cormac’s work as an ally, mentor and support system for queer youth within religious spaces was profoundly important to capture on film.

In the episode, Cormac’s wife, Claire, says, “Not only was there no space for [Cormac’s] queerness in the church, but there was no space for the church in [Cormac’s] queerness.” As a queer person, that resonated deeply with me, as our community has been specifically oppressed by Christianity. I didn’t want to alienate queer audiences with overwhelming Christian rhetoric. So instead, I centred our focus around Cormac and their positive influence on the queer and Christian community. It was through Cormac’s discovery that their unwavering faith and immeasurable support for queer people could result in having these two groups intersect.

Some of my favourite moments in my episode of Devout + Out were when Cormac and Claire shared their story. They are both hilarious and have an admirable relationship, which was another key component that I felt was necessary to showcase: a healthy, non-binary, queer relationship. This is something that’s rarely seen in media and is critical in normalizing queer love to the cis-gender, heterosexual masses.

Cormac and Claire, looking at each other and smiling

Capturing Cormac’s love for their faith and passion for uplifting young people and queer youth was absolutely incredible. I feel honoured to have been a part of their journey. Most of Cormac’s work with youth has gone largely unnoticed, and it’s my hope that through sharing their story with audiences of Devout + Out that they receive the widespread recognition, respect and support from their communities that they deserve.

Watch Devout + Out: Cormac now.