Child, Youth, and Family Studies, Department of



Christi R. McGeorge

Katelyn O. Coburn

Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Feminist Family Therapy 34 (2022), nos. 3–4, pp. 343–369.



Copyright © 2022 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Used by permission.


When a loved one comes out as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), families often seek the assistance of a trusted professional. For many families that involves seeking the consultation of a religious leader. This queer theory informed qualitative study sought to explore how Christian pastors work with LGB individuals and their families. Additionally, this study explored how pastors’ approaches to working with LGB individuals and their families varied based on the degree to which families were accepting or rejecting of their LGB family members. Twenty-one mainline Protestant Christian pastors were interviewed. Thematic analysis identified three themes and a number of subthemes that provide new insights for family therapists by highlighting that pastors engaged in theological conversations with families to encourage acceptance, walked with families in their journey of navigating external discrimination, and provided resources such as connection to community services and referrals to family therapy.