Words by Tess Becker
Since the beginning of 2023, there have been over 460 bills targeted at LGBTQ+ rights, including bathroom bills, banning or restricting gender-affirming care, blocking teachers from speaking on queer issues, and much more.
Many of the arguments against LGBTQ+ causes stem from religious roots. That’s something that Brian Nietzel is trying to change.
Brian shares an interesting perspective, as a gay man who actively participates in the church and still actively practices his faith. He stands at the intersection of an identity that is often ostracized by his faith.
“Since ‘coming out’ over 10 years ago as a gay man committed to my Christian faith, I’ve been compelled to keep one foot in two seemingly opposed worlds: the Christian church and the LGBTQ+ community,” Brian says. “My Rolodex remains full of Christian and LGBTQ+ friends alike (with some fascinating hybrids) representing various angles on faith and sexuality – from conservative to liberal, from curious to adamant.”
To repair the relationship between the queer community and help educate the people in his faith, Brian started Making Things Right.
Making Things Right is an organization that Brian uses to share his own experiences and host resources to teach people from both sides of the aisle so to speak about each other.
Brian has been doing this work informally for over 15 years but in the last few something changed for him to want to do the work more officially.
“I've been seeing a lot more readiness, especially in the conservative churches,” Brian tells Smiley News. “And so just about two years ago, we started planning it, and just about a year ago, we launched a website with a handful of resources, podcasts, et cetera so that people could consume some information to reexamine how to think about LGBTQ+ people in their church and not theologically as much as in practice.”
“How are we going to serve and care for and welcome and include LGBTQ+ people irrespective of our theology?”
And while Brian has done a lot of his own work, he says that he serves as a curator more than anything, helping make resources and educational materials more available.
“There are so many good people out there, behind the scenes doing good work here,” Brian says. “So I do a combination of we did do some making things right resources, and that includes a white paper I wrote.”
Brian’s white paper is a 15-page thesis about the work that he’s trying to do.
“It just explores how do we want to think about this stuff, right? Do we want to perpetuate an old debate? Or do we want to pivot to thinking about a group of people that have been marginalized by the church,” Brian says. “That's all the invitation is, it's not forcing people to change their theologies, but more their practices. So the white paper was sort of the foundation.”
In general, Brian just wants to bring people together and inject an often toxic conversation with a little positivity and understanding.
“Most of us are somewhere in the middle, trying to figure out how to do life better, how to love people better, how to make a good impact, et cetera,” Brian says. “And so just choosing to believe that until it becomes reality is kind of how I encourage people and when you really look under the hood.”
At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article.
American Civil Liberties Union. This is one of the largest civil liberty defense organizations in the US. Find out more and support them here.
Human Rights Campaign. This is one of the largest equality-focused organizations in the US. Find out more.
The Trevor Project. They focus on suicide prevention and mental health support for queer youth. Support them here.