In a Greater Light: A Remembrance of Eli Roe

Austen Hartke

This remembrance is generously shared with us by Austen Hartke. As a transgender person of faith, Austen’s greatest passion is helping other trans and gender-non-conforming people see themselves in scripture. His book “Transforming: The Bible and the Lives of Transgender Christians,” will be published with Westminster John Knox Press, and released on April 7th, 2018. Let Austen tell the story of how he and Eli met…

I met Eli Roe on an incredibly nerve-wracking day. It was June in Atlanta, and we were both attending a conference put on by The Reformation Project—an organization that educates and advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusion in Christian communities. It was the first time I’d ever seen this many queer Christians gathered in one place, and I’d been asked to speak on two panels in front of this crowd of wonderful people. I’d never done anything like this before, and I remember feeling full of nervous energy, hoping that I wouldn’t say anything stupid or disappoint anyone.

Immediately after the second panel I dashed off the stage and out to the reception area, where I knew there was a water cooler. My mouth was dry and my hands were sweaty, and I was ready to take a minute to just breathe.

But standing next to the stack of plastic cups was a person who looked about my age or a little younger, with eager eyes and a soft smile. They held out their hand to shake mine and said, “Hi, I’m Eli! That was so great.”

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