Jacob Clifton Albritton

Co-chair, Commission on LGBTQ+ Ministry, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta | All Saints’ Episcopal Church | Atlanta

If you don’t love yourself, can you do good and share with others?

Seeking an answer, Jacob Clifton Albritton ended up co- chairing The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Commission on LGBTQ+ Ministry. They are a genderqueer nonbinary Christian who attends All Saints’ Episcopal Church and strategically shares their struggles with self-acceptance and faith.

“The diocese is very clear that gender identity and sexual orientation should not preclude you from participating in any aspect of ministry,” they said. “I want to make sure that that’s actually happening.”

At the 2023 Pride Eucharist sermon at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Albritton described themself growing up Catholic with plans for the priesthood. Coming out shook their faith.

“How could God be okay with me being gay, but not okay with me fully living into my identity?” recalled Albritton. “I became angry at God, the church and myself. How can I love God with all my mind and love my neighbor as myself, when I couldn’t love myself, and how can I ever love myself when the church told me that being myself was intrinsically disordered? Was I not of God? Was I not worthy of love and compassion? Did God put me on this earth to suffer and be alone? Where was my mercy?”

They found acceptance in The Episcopal Church, but continued numbing their pain through alcohol. In rehab, Albritton came to realize that their purpose was to manifest God’s glory just the way they were, and shining their inner light could liberate others. Relationships motivate their work today as a major gifts officer for the Movement for Black Lives, and their dream that the diocese will create a mentor network for LGBTQ+ Episcopalians.

“It is essential for you to put yourself first so that you can truly love your neighbors as yourself,” they said at the Pride Eucharist. “A lot of us grew up with shame around who we are and who we love. We grew up scared of living our lives with integrity, the way God created us to be. I’m here to tell you that you are perfect as you are and that God loves you. Your life is purposeful, and it has meaning. You are here because the world needs you.”