An Announcement

Whosoever is embarking on an exciting new phase of its existence. After a four-year hiatus, the website that was founded by Rev. Candace Chellew-Hodge 22 years ago as the online version of her groundbreaking LGBT-positive Christian magazine is undergoing a transformation.

The first step in this journey is that I am answering the call to serve as Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever in partnership with Rev. Chellew-Hodge, who is assuming the role of Editor Emeritus. Our goal is to relaunch Whosoever in 2019 with fresh content aimed at today’s seekers while preserving the rich archives of original content that have characterized Whosoever to date.

The initial phase of this transformation will involve a great deal of behind-the-scenes work, but we intend to post updates along the way on our Facebook page.

I am thrilled and humbled to take this journey and, I welcome your presence alongside us.

God bless,
Rev. Paul M. Turner
Editor-in-Chief

The Courage to Be a Whosoever

“Thank you for your magazine. You’re so courageous to do it.”

Those words were spoken to me by a young man who emerged from a crowd of people at the first gay and lesbian Christian conference I ever attended — the Witness Our Welcome conference in 1998 in Dekalb, Illinois.

He took my hand and shook it as he said those words, and he melted back into the crowd as quickly as he had emerged, but his words have stuck with me all these years.

“Courageous” was the word that rattled around in my head, and still echoes from all those years ago. Whosoever had been born just a scant two years earlier and was, for many years afterward, the only online magazine available for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians. The magazine was, indeed, pioneering and groundbreaking, but courageous? It didn’t feel that way to me. For me, Whosoever was an outlet for my own burgeoning journey toward reconciling my spirituality and sexuality, which made it empowering and joyful for me

Perhaps in a world where just about every Christian denomination still forbade “practicing” LGBT people from serving in pulpits and other leadership positions and marriage equality was a laughable, if not impossible notion, Whosoever was an audacious act of courage on my part. Honestly, it just felt like a ministry, a calling, something I couldn’t NOT do.

Over the years, Whosoever has given me the courage to do a lot of things I didn’t think I could do. I became a spokesperson, both locally and nationally, for the LGBT Christian movement, traveling the country to deliver workshops and lectures. In 2008, I published a book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for LGBT Christians, that served as the culmination of my thoughts and writings over the course of the life of Whosoever.

Along the way, I have gotten to know many people who both support, and oppose, the movement for complete acceptance of LGBT people in both the church and society at large. Most rewarding, however, have been the many letters I have received over the years from people who found hope, love and reconciliation within the pages of this magazine. I know that Whosoever has literally saved the lives of people who believed the lie that God hated them and would send them to hell if they lived into their authentic identity as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.

That, frankly, has been reward enough for doing this magazine over the years.

A New Kind of Courage

Now, the time has come for me to again act with courage as I shut down Whosoever. I do this with great sadness and trepidation. I do not wish to abandon those who have come to rely on Whosoever for support, but I find that my personal theology has shifted so drastically over the years that I no longer can proclaim to be a Christian in any orthodox, or traditional, sense of the word.

I have always been a member of the more progressive spectrum of the faith, this is true, but over the past year, especially, I have discovered another line of theological thinking that has so completely captured my heart and transformed my life in a way that even progressive Christianity had not been able to do. Through the spiritual thinking of scholars such as Bishop John Shelby Spong, Course in Miracles teacher Marianne Williams, Catholic writer and theologian Richard Rohr, Unity Church leaders Charles Fillmore and Eric Butterworth, Bishop Carlton Pierson and others, my beliefs have been turned on their head.

While I can no longer claim to be a Christian in the traditional sense, I am still an ardent follower of Jesus. I believe Jesus’ true message to us — a message of transformation not just for ourselves but for this world — has been covered over by millennia of useless theology and dogma.

I recall having this kind of uneasy feeling even back in seminary when professors would talk about grand councils of rich, white men convening around Europe to argue the great theological points of the day, which usually had something to do with whether or not each other’s Christology was high enough or not. While they argued whether Jesus was the same substance of the Father or not, I thought to myself, people were starving. People are still starving today while we argue the finer points over whether or not God loves LGBT people.

I can’t live with that kind of religion anymore. I need a faith that puts practical action out into the world, a faith that feeds not only me, but prompts me to get out in the world and feed others as well.

In short, I still need the courage to be a “whosoever” in this world — someone who still believes that Jesus came to show us the only way to save ourselves and everyone else, by cultivating our own Christ consciousness so that it leads us to a place of selfless love and service to ourselves and others.

That seminal quote from John 3:16, which once meant to me — even as a more progressive Christian — that Jesus was the only way to get to God, has new meaning to me now as I read it through this new more metaphysical lens.

This passage meant a lot to me in the beginning of Whosoever, because to me it was a signal of Jesus’ unconditional welcome to anyone who “believed” in him. That, I figured, meant the LGBT believer. We, too, are “whosoever.” While that still remains very good news to LGBT people who continue their journey in orthodox Christianity, those words hold even more hope for me now as I continue a journey of courage to truly become a new kind of “whosoever” — a person who recognizes their own inner divinity and seeks to cultivate that Christ consciousness within myself and encourage others to do the same.

Charles Fillmore writes this about John 3:16 in his book Mysteries of John: “In love God gave His only-begotten Son, the fullness of the perfect-man idea in Divine Mind, the Christ, to be the true, spiritual self of every individual. By following Jesus’ example of recognizing and acknowledging the Christ in our every thought, word, and deed, thus unifying ourselves with His completeness, the outer will become as the inner; we shall be like Christ; we shall know Him as He is. He who truly believes ‘cometh not into judgment, but hath passed out of death into life.'”

When we understand that Jesus came to call us into our own higher Christ consciousness, we do not “perish,” which in Greek means we are not lost, destroyed or made useless. Instead, we become alive with the abundant form of life that Jesus promises we all can find in our lives.

This abundant life is the one I have found as I have put on this new way of thinking and believing about Jesus. It is congruent with my True Self and, just like Whosoever, it feels like a calling — a ministry — that I now must pursue with the same vigor and excitement that propelled this magazine.

Passing the Torch

Since Whosoever began in 1996, more and more ministries aimed at LGBT people have sprung up, led by young, charismatic leaders who have pushed the envelope and have advanced our progress as a faith community much further than I had ever dreamed. The Evangelical Network, the Gay Christian Network led by Justin Lee as well as newcomers such as Matthew Vines and his Reformation Project and Brandon Robertson at Evangelicals for Marriage, are continuing to do amazing work and serve as models for those still struggling to reconcile their sexuality and spirituality.

By stepping away from Whosoever, I am, by no means, turning my back on the LGBT Christian community, but it is time for me to pass the torch to a new, dynamic generation of leaders in our movement. As an elder in this movement, however, I still intend to serve as a resource and as a source of support for anyone who struggles to live authentically into their sexuality or gender identity. This will always be a core piece of my ministry and I hope people will continue to reach out to me when they need that kind of support. I will always be here.

I extend my thanks and gratitude to everyone who has supported Whosoever over these many years, including the writers who gave their work freely to be published, to donors who helped us pay the bills to keep us online and for every reader who stopped by, whether they agreed with what they read or not.

I am grateful for even those who wrote hate mail to me over the years, because those are the people who challenged me the most to continue to grow my faith and continue to act with courage in the face of their hatred. In the end, they are the ones who made me a more gentle, loving and generous person because they pointed out the places where I was still being violent, hateful and selfish.

For now, access to the archives of Whosoever will remain available, but I plan to take the site down completely this summer, so if there are articles or resources you need, please download and save them now.

Again, thank you all for your love and support over the years. I begin my new journey with a new Web site called “Spiritual Apocalypse.” Come on over and join the party there.

Blessings, Love and Namaste,

Candace Chellew-Hodge
Founder and Editor of Whosoever Magazine

Whosoever Wins 2009 Pride Choice Award

2009 Pride Choice Award
2009 Pride Choice Award

Posted by: Candace Chellew-Hodge

Whosoever has won a 2009 Pride Choice Award for the best LGBT non-profit in the Southeast region!

We’re thrilled to have this award and hope that you will visit the Great Nonprofits Web site and check out all the award winners.

Whosoever, founded in 1996 when the Internet was powered by a hamster on wheel, has been working tirelessly to provide safe space for LGBT Christians and people of faith and to assure our community of God’s unconditional love for us just as we were created. With this award and your continued financial help, Whosoever will continue is mission for many years to come.

Thanks to everyone who reviewed Whosoever and helped us win this award!

The “Scoop” from Amazon

I sent a note yesterday complaining about Amazon’s de-ranking of my book Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians.

The story has been all over the Web: here, here, and here, just to name a few.

The note sent to me from Amazon made this lame excuse:

This is an embarrassing and ham-fisted cataloging error for a company that prides itself on offering complete selection.

It has been misreported that the issue was limited to Gay & Lesbian themed titles – in fact, it impacted 57,310 books in a number of broad categories such as Health, Mind & Body, Reproductive & Sexual Medicine, and Erotica. This problem impacted books not just in the United States but globally. It affected not just sales rank but also had the effect of removing the books from Amazon’s main product search.

Many books have now been fixed and we’re in the process of fixing the remainder as quickly as possible, and we intend to implement new measures to make this kind of accident less likely to occur in the future.

Thanks for contacting us. We hope to see you again soon.

Not bloody likely, but thanks for putting the sales ranking back on my page, Amazon.

Bulletproof Faith “De-Ranked” by Amazon

My book, Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians has been de-ranked by Amazon.com. Apparently, Amazon has decided that gay and lesbian books are “offensive” and are “adult” material and they don’t want them turning up in searches and offending anyone who might innocently be searching for books and one of our filthy, outrageous, titles should pop up.

Amazon.com has been called on this – and over at Twitter.com the #amazonfail group is alive and calling for Amazon’s head over this – and Amazon has responded by calling it a “glitch” that is going to be fixed.

That “glitch” comment, by the way, came after an admission from an Amazon PR flak that removing the sales rankings from gay and lesbian books was intentional because they were “adult” titles and would be considered offensive.

But, if you search for sex toys on Amazon’s site – these “adult” devices still have their sales rankings:

Remarked all-around swell poet Mark Doty across the disorganized sprawl of Facebook, “If you go on Amazon and type in butt plug in the search window, you’ll see a number of them for sale, with sales ranking attached! So, it’s okay to rank butt plugs but not books?” Alas yes. One only finds erogenous things as butt plugs (and whips too!) when specifically searching them out.

Whosoever has been an Amazon associate for years now – but if this situation is not rectified, and soon, we will be disassociating from them and moving on to another bookstore.

In the meantime, I suggest you head over the Indiebooks.org and check out their selection. It’s time to get serious about supporting our independent bookstores instead of the homophobic box stores and online stores.

Update: Some books have had their sales ranks restored, but Bulletproof Faith is NOT one of them. We haven’t won this battle yet.