The Human Rights Campaign is proud to announce the fourth annual Scholarship & Mentorship Program for Religion and Theological Study at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN.

To kick off the Summer Institute, there will be two events open to the public on July 23th and 24th: a Screening of ‘God Loves Uganda” followed by Q&A by Kapya Kaoma and a theatrical play by Peterson Toscano titled “Transfigurations: Transgressing Gender in the Bible.

The Scholarship and Mentorship Program, made possible through a generous grant by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Program in Religion, Gender, and Sexuality at Vanderbilt Divinity School, seeks to encourage and promote the dialogue on LGBT issues and religion in seminaries and, by extension, in our congregations and communities by investing in the next generation of LGBTQ and allied scholars. It is a pivotal to realizing HRC's Religion and Faith Program's vision to ensure that no one should have to choose between their faith, who they are and whom they love.

We are so pleased to congratulate and welcome the following students to the program:

Benae Beamon is currently a doctoral student at Boston University where she studies black queer ethics and is interested in constructing a theoethical framework in response to black queers’ reality and experience.



Brian Blackmore is enrolling in a doctorate program at Temple University this fall.  Before pursuing his graduate studies, Brian taught kindergarten and now his interests include inter-religious education in public schools, and determining the best pedagogy for teaching about religion and sexuality.

Sam Castleberry is currently completing his M.A. in Theology and Philosophy at Drew University where his research includes exploring the ways in which transqueer theory remains invisible within the field of queer theory today.



Vincent D. Cervantes is a doctoral student at the University of Southern California where his research explores the intersections of race, theology, and sexuality in Latin American literature and culture.  Vincent serves on the Board of Directors for the Reconciling Ministries Network.

Margaret Clendenen is a third year Sociology Ph.D. student at Brandeis University.  She is particularly interested in the role of religion in the LGBTQ rights movement and is currently examining the relationship between religious leaders and activists who worked on the marriage equality campaigns in Maine and Maryland.

Meredith Coleman-Tobias is a Ph.D. student in Emory University’s Graduate Division of Religion where she plans to research the religious diaspora of Malidoma and Sobonfu Somé in North America and the Caribbean.  Her current interest in contemporary Africana religious migrations was sparked during her tenure as a Fulbright student in Barbados in 2009-2010.

Craig A. Ford, Jr., is a doctoral student and Margaret O’Brien Flatley Fellow in Theological Ethics at Boston College where he is currently interested in the formation of the conscience in Christian communities.

Chet Jechura holds a Master of Theological Studies degree from Boston College where he concentrated in theological ethics.  He is currently researching a project to promote global justice for sexual minorities and in his spare time writes for his social justice blog, “Some Just Words.”

Drew Konow is entering his third year as a Master of Arts in Religion student at Yale Divinity School and the Yale Institute for Sacred Music.  His current project looks at the history and theology of queer Catholic liturgical protests at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City during the height of the AIDS crisis.


Suzanna Krivulskaya is a Ph.D. student in History at Washington University in St. Louis.  Her work focuses on conservative religious communities and the intersections of religion with sexuality, sexual practices, gender, and gender expression.


Carol Lautier is a Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at George Washington University.  Her research focuses on race and sexuality in post-Civil Rights era faith-based activism.  Fueled by her faith, Carol is passionate about and an active participant in building networks among faith leaders in the current equality movement.

Carlin Rushing recently earned a Master’s of Divinity degree from Vanderbilt University Divinity School where she focused on the intersection of gender, sexuality and the Black Church.  Her current research includes exploring the ways in which Black women’s literary tradition and the lived realities of Black queer women provide a unique way of interpreting the Biblical text.

Sheehan Scarborough, a Master of Divinity student at Harvard Divinity School, is currently studying the Hebrew Bible, Biblical interpretation, pastoral care and counseling.  Sheehan founded the Faith and Sexuality Initiative—a program that provides space for LGBTQ students to discuss the role of religion in their lives and communities.

Andrea Tucker is a Ph.D. student in Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt’s Graduate Department of Religion.  Her dissertation examines the ways in which trans activists perform, but also challenge the politics laid out in the work of queer theorist Judith Butler.


Jennifer Yates is in the Ph.D. program in Practical Theology/Spiritual Care and Counseling at Claremont School of Theology.  She is committed to facilitating improved communication among mental health and religious communities about the nature of spiritually-mediated trauma through teaching and publishing.  She is presently serving as a school psychologist in an inner-city middle school.

Congratulations to all of the students! We look forward to another summer of intellectual and spiritual dialogue and the opportunity to help recast faith-based conversations about LGBTQ issues in a more positive and constructive light.

Filed under: Religion & Faith, Media

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