Growing the Beloved Community

Dr Nam Phan (he, him) 

Buddhist; Gay; Cisgender; Partner, Father, Son, Doctor, Medical Educator, Board Game Fanatic

Benjamin Oh (he, him) 

Christian – Catholic; Queer; Parent, Community Organiser, Human Rights Defender, Educator, Pastoral Care Ministry


The love of Nam and Benjamin overflows to the lives, relationships and communities they’ve helped build and create in the world all around them, especially for LGBTIQA+ minoritised communities. Their shared vocation to making a better world is grounded in their separate yet mutually enriching religious, faith and cultural traditions harmoniously lived out in their multifaith and multicultural rainbow family – and their beloved children. Through their dedication and commitments to family and community and causes of social justice and LGBTIQA+ human rights, they have broadened the narrow definition of the patriarchal family structures and expanded that definition of membership that includes the whole human family.

Image description:

Nam and Benjamin are holding on to each other standing side by side as their heads turn to each other and as they intimately gaze into one another’s eyes, Nam’s right hand extend over the back of Benjamin’s waist as Benjamin’s left hand is over Nam’s left shoulder, both holding closely together. Against a royal purple backdrop, Benjamin is dressed in a black T-Shirt that carries a retro neon font rainbow coloured inscription of ‘RAD DAD’ and Nam is dressed in a white T-Shirt that carries a cursively written red writing of ‘Papa’. A hand crocheted rainbow coloured religious stole is draped over their necks and over Nam’s left shoulder and Benjamin’s right shoulder that drops to each side of their bodies.

Reflections Nam:

“I believe that the essence of any religion... faith... teaches us how to live a full, just, life. They provide us a set of guidelines to help nurture one's soul, teach us how to act and how to relate to ourselves and our community.”

“I believe in karma, that there is a natural balance and order to things. You reap what you sow, so when you send positivity into the world, you will receive it all back! Good and bad things always happen, but it is how you act, with true intent, with true sincerity and to act with justice, that will be what will pull you through the tough and hard challenges you encounter in life's journey. 

Some people think that they can ""game"" the system - empty words or promises to sound good, but at the end of the day, the only person you are fooling is yourself, not the Universe. 

Knowing that you come from nothing and will go to nothing allows us to let go of materialism and to focus on the here and now - to make whatever little difference we can to those around us, and to build a better world for future generations.”

"By paying respects to one's ancestors, the ones that have gone before us, we put context into our very own existence. 

Without the hard work of our ancestors, we would not have what we have today, and our toil in the daily grind will hopefully better the future for the ones that will come after us. By acknowledging those that have come before us, offering a prayer, lighting an incense and taking a moment of pause; it allows us to be connected to our greater humanity, to know and understand that many have come through the same footsteps, that have suffered and rejoiced as we do, that we are not alone, and that we too will leave footsteps for the next generation to hopefully follow and push and excel even further. 

This gives us perspective, of our place in the world - that we are the culmination of a lot of things and that we have a responsibility to those that will come after us.”

“It would be nice to see the Buddhist community be more vocal at standing up for justice for LGBTIQA+ siblings in the world. Often the Buddhist community will shy away from advocacy and take a "hands off" approach to maintain peace. True intent, true sincerity and to act with justice - to look after all of our brothers and sisters and to treat and give all the same dignity they deserve.”

Reflections Benjamin:

“My faith affirms me in my inherent dignity as a sacred being, as co-heirs of that which is good, and calls on me to love lavishly, to love in a way that makes kinship out of every person that enters into my sphere or care, to value them the same way that sees their flourishing as important as my own flourishing, to see one another as beloved siblings of one human family, where their needs and dreams are tied up with mine.” 

“Breaking bread, sharing a meal, sharing thanksgiving - the Eucharist with others through varied ways, be it in a literal sharing of a bite or drink, to the celebration of Mass is central to remembering our shared humanity and common divine origin. A reminder of our shared needs: for nourishment, dignity, hospitality, gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, faith, hope, love. In this ritual, it allows me in union with others to be able to touch heaven through our sharing of conversations, prayers, hope, laughter, dreams; and to touch earth through our sharing of tears, pain, struggles, reflections, contrition and stories of human limitations.”

“For my LGBTIQA+ siblings, Jesus says to them: 

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. 

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 

Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything but is thrown out and trampled under foot. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a lamp and put it under the bushel basket; rather, they put it on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.”- Gospel according to Matthew, Chapter 5: 1-15

“I would like the Christian tradition to truly model and recognise the radical hospitality and radical love as told by the Gospels. The kind of love and hospitality where the Sacred is manifested and even birthed through the ordinary, the common, the queer, generously and uncompromisingly inclusive. That the almighty would take on utter vulnerability and total dependence to be in solidarity with the created world, that no one and nothing earthly is foreign, even death is not excluded from its transformative love. 

That we’d soon discover that LGBTIQA+ movements towards justice and liberation are a prophetic part of that redemptive and sacred story that links us all the way back to our ancestors’ liberation from enslavement, oppression, injustice, prejudice and discrimination; but this time perhaps, to see our need to be free from the heavy chains of misogyny, patriarchy, cisheterosexism, racism and classism that dehumanises us all. That the prophetic voices of our LGBTIQA+ siblings calling for equity, equality and peace with justice is echoing the voice of the Holy Ones who have gone before us.”

Photographed by David Silva of Studio Commercial