Kiristo-no-Kaze (Winds of Christ)

Rainbow candles used by Kiristo-no-KazeAika TAIRA
Representative, Kiristo-no-Kaze

Kiristo-no-Kaze (Winds of Christ) is a gathering for Christian sexual minorities. It is not the first of its kind, but ours is the first to prevail; others seem to have been short-lived for various reasons. Our first meeting came about quite by chance. Amongst a gathering of homosexuals one day, there happened to be some Christians and the conversation turned to our need for a space in which we could pray and hold church services in peace. We wanted to be able to give thanks to God for our sexuality in the belief that it has been bestowed upon us by Him – rather than having to repent, or pray to God to change our sexuality. We started to hold prayer meetings for Christian sexual minorities. As our desire to hold a service in a church grew stronger, a church in Tokyo allowed us the use of their premises, and this gave rise to the first Kiristo-no-Kaze congregation. The gathering was tentatively named The Gay Christian Association, but in response to calls from lesbians and transgenders, it was later changed to Kiristo-no-kaze, taken from the name of a NY-based newsletter for Japanese Christian sexual minorities.

Kiristo-no-Kaze has a number of unique characteristics:

1. In principle, there is no continuity and the gathering is dissolved after each time it meets. Our voluntary gatherings have just happened to attract participants for more than eleven years without the help of any permanent members or staff.
2. For this reason, no-one knows for certain whether another gathering will actually take place or not. After each gathering, the tentative date of the next proposed gathering is announced and interested persons are invited to attend the preparatory committee meeting for it.
3. Since it is a voluntarily-planned gathering, there is no official list of members and the majority of the attendees do not know the names, let alone the contact-addresses, of the others.

It may seem surprising that Kiristo-no-Kaze has managed to continue for over eleven years under such unstable conditions. However, I feel that perhaps it is precisely this ambiguous, unconventional stance that has allowed it to continue accepting all kinds of beliefs, ideals and principles.

I have learned two important lessons from Kiristo-no-Kaze. The first was the extent to which Christianity has, throughout its long history, attempted to control sexuality by forcing it into a single frame, oppressing any other sexuality which does not fit into it. A considerable number of people who come to our gatherings have experienced the stigma of being sexual minorities in their Church, whether they be Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, or some other denomination. Some had sought salvation from the Christian faith but were made to feel that there was no place for them in the Church. I believe that Kiristo-no-Kaze challenges the entire Christian Church, questioning whether the teachings of Jesus Christ, that “God created us in his image and loves us” was really intended to exclude or oppress sexual minorities.

Secondly, I have learned that sexuality itself can be extremely diverse. It took many years for our gatherings, which started as a “gay” Christian association, to truly realise the extent of this diversity - of sexual orientation, sexual identification, or biological sex. In fact, there are so many people who give neither fixture nor name to their own sexuality. I have also come to realise that, amongst sexual minorities, male homosexuals constitute the majority and are the most powerful.
Kiristo-no-Kaze is committed to three “promises”. One is that “sexuality is diverse and cannot be judged by appearances, so we must beware not to label or brand each other.” (The other two are that “we should not refer to people we meet here elsewhere, as they may not wish their attendance at a sexual minority or a Christian gathering to be known,” and that “within the gathering, we do not relate one participant’s personal information to another participant without the former’s permission.”) Kiristo-no-Kaze makes us realize that even those subject to discrimination can easily become persecutors themselves at any given time due to social structures or preconceptions.

It is now almost twelve years since the beginning of Kiristo-no-Kaze. I think that over the course of time, its direction has changed. Our gatherings had initially been motivated largely by the need for a place where we could “simply feel at peace,” but are now driven by a yearning for “mutual support and encouragement.” Throughout the long course of the history of Christianity, there was a shift in the idea of peace, from that of “the bodily safety of the group” to the “spiritual tranquillity achieved by the sense of being with God,” and then to the otherworldly vision of “the promise of redemption in Heaven if one endures pain and suffering in this world.” Now, in modern times, the idea has experienced another shift so that peace now means that “every individual living in this society is valued and treasured” and that ‘because God is by our side, we may continue our pursuit of peace, with hope.” I think Kiristo-no-Kaze has actually closely followed this path of Christianity. Our vision has broadened, from the “pursuit of individual peace for ourselves in the world” to the enabling of “each and every person to live with hope and courage in this world”. Consequently, the hymns we sing have also changed. We created new hymns, including lyric rewrites, that are not merely thanksgiving or glorification, but which inclusively embrace our existence as beings of diverse sexualities. Kiristo-no Kaze has been adopting an increasingly active attitude in recent years, revising the Lord’s Prayer in inclusive, non-discriminatory language so that Christian sexual minorities can pray without reserve, and participating in parades in Tokyo and Sapporo with our banner. In 2003, we compiled a list of churches that welcome Christian sexual minorities based on questionnaires sent out to 3,000 churches nationwide, and we have also been able to send representatives regularly to the biannual international assembly of the Metropolitan Community Church (the largest religious organization for sexual minorities in the world).

Naturally, over the past twelve years or so, we have been faced with many difficulties. Some people have left, being hurt from misunderstanding or lack of consideration. There was a time when we thought that the end had come, with only three attendees. (We also experienced the ambivalent feelings of uneasiness and joy from becoming too large, with nearly 70 participants.) Yet, through it all, we were always aware that “because Christ is with us, we are soothed, calmed, consoled and strengthened” and that “above all, we have hope in Christ’s promise to give us peace.” I cannot predict the future course of Kiristo-no-Kaze. We may dissolve when discrimination against sexual minorities disappears from society and the Christian Church, or we may just disappear someday for no particular reason at all. However, I believe that as long as there is a need for this discontinuous group, it will persevere. I hope and pray that Kiristo-no-Kaze will continue to give strength and hope to each and every one of us.

(Taken from the Kiristo-no-Kaze group message, March 2007)