31 Days 31 Trans Voices | Day 12: Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson, What Heaven Looks Like

Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson is the pastor of Linden Hills United Church of Christ in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a writer, and digital evangelist. He uses multiple online platforms to advocate for social justice, express relevant content, and communicate inspired information. When he is not blogging and ministering, Richardson spends his time enjoying nature, practicing yoga, and being an active presence in both the Transgender and Progressive Christian communities.

Becoming Minnesota’s first black transgender pastor was the pot of gold at the end of the proverbial rainbow.

Watching his alcoholic father abuse his mother, enduring physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, surviving more than one bout of homelessness, and sent to live with his paternal grandmother while in the third grade might have broken any human.

During his time with his Southern Baptist grandmother, Richardson found comfort in the church and passionately embraced the philosophies of the church.

“God is love and you are the manifestation of love in the world.” – Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson

But his relationship with the church would change. Richardson came out publicly in high school, but still had to fight for acceptance. It was there that he learned about sexual orientation and gender identity – there’d been no exposure to either at home or church. The message, “don’t do it, and don’t be gay,” was so strong that when his grandmother saw him holding hands with another gender nonconforming teen, she believed he’d been possessed by the “demon of homosexuality” and Richardson was subjected to an exorcism.

Reverend Lawrence T. Richardson

Sent to the streets again, this time for nine months, the teen eschewed the idea that God didn’t like him and instead turned to God and strengthened that relationship.

Richardson moved back to his grandma’s. She was strict and expected her rules followed. The first member of his family to attend college, Richardson was depressed and alone his sophomore year at St. Catherine University. He tried to overdose on pills.

His suicide attempt was a turning point for his grandma, who then apologized and accepted Richardson. Unfortunately, she died a year later of lupus; then his lupus-stricken father killed himself less than a week later. Richardson was left to care for his two teenage sisters.

Richardson received a master’s degree from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University and things began turning around for him. It was around the same time, that he first heard the word “transgender.” Everything made sense; hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery came in the following years. “My spirit just exhaled,” he says.

After his transition, all along Richardson knew he had his faith. It was just about finding the right church. “To be queer, to be black, to be trans, and to be homeless, there’s not a lot of opportunities for people like that,” Richardson said. And then in 2014 Richardson was hired at Linden Hills Church of Christ.

Last fall, Richardson became the church’s lead minister. He hopes to remain there for at least 15 years, preaching a simple but profound message.

“My religious philosophy is that God is love,” the Reverend told City Pages “We are commanded to embody and express that love with everyone we encounter, including ourselves.” 

Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson, in a Mainline Christian church on Pentecost Sunday at Linden Hills UCC in Minneapolis, Minn.

You can connect with Reverend Richardson through these projects:

Follow Rev. Richardson on twitter @larry2_0

For updates or to contact the Reverend visit his website here.

Terry Willits

Trans Speak's Editor-in-Chief is an international mixed media artist, writer, LGBTQ advocate, coffee snob, dog dad, and FTM transgender - but not necessarily in that order, who practices what he posts. A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; he now does the writing thing from St. Louis, Missouri. You should check out his work - it's recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend stuff.

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