Welcome to the Gayborhood: Jason Brown on This New Era

The following is an exclusive excerpt from Kaleidoscope, a podcast featuring conversations on religion with the people often left out of conversations on religion and politics hosted by Deborah Jian Lee. As each new episode is released, Religion Dispatches will be featuring special remarks from the show’s guests that reveal how their worldview has changed in this new era.

In 2013, Jason Brown was a queer student at Biola University, a conservative evangelical college that prohibits “homosexual behavior.” For a time, he co-led an anonymous LGBTQ club called the Biola Queer Underground (now Biolans’ Equal Ground). Back then, Deborah interviewed him for her book Rescuing Jesus: How People of Color, Women and Queer Christians Reclaimed Evangelicalism.

One late afternoon, Jason and Deborah had a conversation in Jason’s pickup truck that would stay with Deborah for years. It would inspire Kaleidoscope’s tagline (Let the world see you. When they do, they’ll never be the same.) This episode reveals how the tagline comes from an unrequited queer love story, all set against the backdrop of an anti-queer campus.

You can subscribe and listen to the entire interview on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Deborah caught up with Jason recently and asked him the same question posed to all of Kaleidoscope’s guests (read the other responses here):

What is one of the biggest transformations that has occurred for you in this new era?

In the last presidency, as much as we were still living through these really harsh realities as LGBTQ people, I think that we had a lot of hope. We thought we were going in a positive direction and making legal victories.

After the election, I just felt like I was going into a state of anger or depression. But what has actually come about in the last year is a desire to engage and come together with my community.

I’ve moved a lot in the last few years. But in the Trump era, this is the first time where I’ve actively sought out a “gayborhood.” I’ve lived, you know, like, among the straights. So when I moved to San Diego it was like okay, I’m going to I’m going to live in the gay area. I’m going to reach out to gay people and to gay Christians.

In the gayborhood, (my partner) Josh and I don’t worry about being in public together. Like, holding hands, we don’t have so much fear of doing it. We don’t get looked at. We’ve certainly shed any sense of guilt that that we might have had about offending someone. This is a protected area for us. It’s absolutely awesome.

In this odd way, I really feel like this new era has made us stronger. It’s made me so proud of my community. We will survive and we will be stronger after this.