"Believr," a new app, seeks to provide a safe haven for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Christians who embrace their LGBTQ identity.
Adam Evers introduced Believr on Thursday, June 3. Their website states that the app intends to help LGBTQ Christians find "belonging, connection and love," Religion News reported.
"The heartache of the LGBTQ+ Christian community has been accumulating for generations," states their story section. "We have felt placeless - being too gay for the Christian spaces and too Christian for the LGBTQ+ spaces. After coming out, that heartache became real when Adam was removed from a fundamentalist church and when Brandon returned from an evangelical missions program without a spiritual home."
How it started
Evers, who identifies as a "gay Christian," was inspired to create the app while attending a conference put on by Q Christian Fellowship, an organization that serves LGBTQ Christians. Bothered that there was no app to connect with LGBTQ people who identify as Christians in his area, he and co-founder Brandon Flanery started working on Believr approximately two years ago.
Evers said that it began as a dating app in his quest to find a companion, but it soon evolved into a larger community when its early supporters convened for weekly Zoom meetings throughout the first year of pandemic.
What the app does in a nutshell
As a dating app for persons who identify as LGBTQ, the app features "values-based matching" where users will choose the 5 values that are most important to them from a list of 72 options, and are matched accordingly.
It also has "community spaces" where users may connect over a variety of themes, including faith, location, and gender identity.
Additionally, the group has launched a podcast featuring LGBTQ Christian leaders and has sponsored worship evenings on Facebook. "Spectrum," a premium membership with extra features such as communal areas and premium memberships, is also available.
Evers said that Believr is all about making connections, whatever that may mean.
"If that means friendship, that means romantic relationship, that means something else, great. But ultimately, we want to connect people together," he said.
The need for the app
"I believe the LGBTQ+ Christian space is much bigger than people realize or think," Evers said. "It's much bigger than myself. There's a community, and there's a need."
He cited a 2020 survey from the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, which indicated that over half of all LGBTQ individuals in the United States identify as religious. According to the survey, more over 4.1 million of those people claim to be Christians.
On a personal level, Evers told RNS that he's "either too gay for Christian spaces or too Christian for gay spaces or queer spaces."
He often felt torn between two worlds as a homosexual Christian. He shared that his faith profession was often an impediment in LGBTQ settings, since so many people in the community had been injured by churches who think same-sex relationships are incompatible with Scripture.
On the other hand, he has been ostracized from Christian settings. He said he was kicked out of John Piper's Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis because of his sexuality while he was in college.
Being "Christian" and being "gay" at the same time
Evers's new platform is different from other groups that refute Bible verses "condemning homosexuality." It describes itself simply as a safe space for Christians who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ demographic to belong, where they can establish connections, friendships and even romantic relationships with fellow LGBTQ+ people.
It's important to note that Believr was created to meet a "need" its founders personally had. Evers indicated that he himself was looking for a "partner" but couldn't find one because there's no "space" where that partner could be. "How am I supposed to find a husband if I don't create this space?" he said.
That said, Believr is not for Christians who are struggling with same-sex attraction. It is very different from other groups or platforms such as Equipped to Love, which was found by a former gay man named Ken Williams.
Real intimacy that only Jesus can give
When he was eight years old, Williams noticed that he wasn't like the other boys his age. He didn't like sports or the typical rough activities boys liked. This often led to his being bullied and being called a "gay wad" or "shrimp." His own father, responding to the bullying, enrolled him in activities such as soccer, karate, baseball, and Boy Scouts, but he still failed in them. Instead, he preferred "deep conversations" with his mom and her friends.
Eventually, Williams was exposed to pornography, which led to various feelings, such as being "so damaged" and "dirty" over something that had been "awakened." Years later, he started acting on his feelings and became physically engaged with fellow boys in the hopes of getting "attention and connection."
Eventually, Williams wrote a letter expressing his anguish over his struggles and shared it with his youth pastor who "lovingly committed" to help him, along with his parents. He received Christian counseling for five years and eventually realized that changing one's sexual desires is actually possible.
Williams wrote a book detailing how Christ set him free and restored him to his true identity. In the book, titled "The Journey Out: How I Followed Jesus Away From Gay," he shares how "God's best plan for us is not to pursue homosexuality," and how Jesus offers "real inner healing and intimate relationship," which is something that gay "pride" can never give.
He also founded two ministries, Equipped to Love and the CHANGED Movement. The first aims to "show the truth of Biblically-defined sexuality to the LGBTQ community" and the second aims to provide support to those who left their LGBTQ identities to embrace who they are in Christ.