Founded in 2022, The Catholic Roundtable is the newest roundtable at The Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies in Religion (CLGS) and joins the Center’s African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Jewish, Latinx, and Transgender Roundtables in engaging in the work of “advancing the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, and transgender people and transforming faith communities and the wider society by taking a leading role in shaping a new public discourse on religion, gender identity, and sexuality through education, research, community building, and advocacy.”

The Catholic Roundtable brings together leaders (lay and ordained), scholars, artists, educators, and activists to engage in strategic thinking with the goal of creating culturally-appropriate programs and coalitions that affirm the dignity and human worth of LGBTQ Catholics and our allies.  Rooted in a variety of Catholic traditions, the Catholic Roundtable promotes LGBTQ Catholic leadership; develops educational, spiritual, and liturgical resources for Catholic individuals and communities; and fosters the exchange of best pastoral care practices with Catholic and allied faith communities.


Queer and Catholic: A CLGS Oral History Project

In July of 2022 the CLGS Catholic Roundtable launched its first program: Queer and Catholic: A CLGS Oral History Project

Project Description: Catholic individuals all over the world identify as LGBTQIA+ and have since the beginning of Catholic traditions and movements, including those not connected to Rome. For those connected to Rome, however, as well as other movements that separate themselves from LGBTQIA+ identity and continue to not bless same-sex unions and affirm transgender and nonbinary identities, this can lead to a crisis of faith. Now is an especially critical time to record the stories of Catholic LGBTQIA+ individuals, including advocates, activists, and allies, both lay and religious, for future researchers and to increase representation.

Despite continued pushback from the Roman Catholic Church against acknowledging nonbinary and transgender individuals and the relationships of its LGBTQ+ members, there is growing acceptance of lesbian and gay individuals among Catholic membership, especially in the United States and Europe. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, the majority or 61% of Catholics in the United States are in favor of allowing gay and lesbian individuals to marry, and 76% say society should be accepting of homosexuality. As Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry explains to John Bacon for USA Today, “Catholic people recognize the holiness of the love between committed same-sex couples and recognize this love as divinely inspired and divinely supported.”

As the broader Catholic laity suggest, along with the growth of national organizations like DignityUSA, Fortunate Families, New Ways Ministry, and the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry in the past decade, there is growing public pressure to recognize the diversity of those identifying within the Catholic faith. Given this recent push, especially in the last fifty years, it is important to document LGBTQIA+ individuals who identified and continue to identify in the Catholic Church and catholic religious communities both in the past and present. Not only will this establish a historical record for future researchers to study how current LGBTQ+ individuals identify, but it will also serve to affirm the existence and uplift and celebrate representation of LGBTQIA+ individuals in catholic communities in the U.S. and abroad.

Emma Cieslik

Project Director: Emma Cieslik (she|her) is the founder and director of Queer and Catholic, A CLGS Oral History Project. She is a cradle Catholic queer woman, who grew up in the northwestern Chicago suburbs with a passion for activist-oriented public history and museum work. She has over five years of experience conducting oral history and ethnographic research at the intersection of religion, gender, and sexuality. She has worked in the past with the Muncie LGBTQ+ History Project and the Ball State Honors College Oral History Project conducting oral history interviews and has also assisted with the curation of religion at major museums, including the National Museum of American History. She is eager to document faith in every shape and form it takes.

Who is eligible to be interviewed for the project?: Individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+ who have identified as Catholic in the past or identify as Catholic today, individuals who are part of organized and ordained religious life who identify as LGBTQIA+, individuals who were raised within catholic communities or come from families where Catholicism has a dominant and discernable presence on their lives, individuals who were raised in ethnically Catholic communities, particularly in immigrant communities, and individuals who identify as culturally Catholic, in any manifestation that this culture takes form.

Are you interested in participating in an interview?  As a first step, please complete the interview interest form linked here.

You can also reach out to Emma at eocieslik@gmail.com with any questions.


For more information on the CLGS Catholic Roundtable contact, please contact Bernard Schlager (he|they), our Catholic Roundtable Coordinator, at bschlager@clgs.org.