I know that I write about my sexuality a lot. Some people even would think that it is the main part of my identity– which, it is, I am a lesbian and I know that to be a truth about me. But I also have another part of my identity, my Christian faith, which is just as– if not more– important.
I have a rough relationship with the church. It was my first place of refuge and peace when I left my abusive household. I found my inner strength and a newfound joy there. A girl who felt displaced and lost found herself again in Job and Daniel and Paul’s writings and in the arms of Jesus. I want to say that the feelings I have now have been newer and developing as of late. But truth be told, I’ve had them for awhile. The church has hurt me in a way that I don’t really know how to grapple with and understand. Being a gay Christian causes me to be ostracized and marginalized as soon as that word– gay– is spoken. People rarely sit down to say “okay, so tell me about you then? How did you find out? How is your faith because of this? What can I do as a brother or sister in Christ to welcome to you?” Instead, I find myself on the outside looking in, allowed to participate but never lead, and assumed that I am living in sin because of that one word.
Depending on your view, I could be living in sin. I have spent years read commentaries, books, the bible, and having conversations. I end up in the same place– that it’s okay to have a Christ-centered same-se relationship. So why is it that I continually feel guilted and shamed about the fact that I have dated women? Is it because I got it wrong? Am I truly sinful in this way? I don’t think so. I think that the peace I have with God on this is truthful and real. I think the problem and the feelings stem from the people themselves. The ones who stand by and don’t really do anything, the opinionated silent types, and the ones who actively create the walls between the oppressed and the oppressors (although I am sure they wouldn’t see themselves that way).
When I feel these feelings, I find myself falling deeper into the grey bleh that I feel too often. I have depression, that is a truth about me that I try to talk about and be vulnerable about. What you might not know is that my depression only worsened and got to a diagnosable state once I came out and began to deal with the all the shit that can come with the freedom of speaking you truth. I have days where I sit on the couch all day, barely eating, barely doing anything because I am overcome with a feeling that all the color in my life is gone. I pull away from people and I turn into myself, ignoring any semblance of caring word from anyone. All this to say, walking between these two worlds– gay and christian– is exhausting and I am so fucking tired.
People ask me a lot: what can I be doing better? How can I be loving the LGBTQ community better?
I am not dismissing this question. I am glad that you are asking it and that people are trying to come to some sort of middle ground. But it hurts, this question, and it is tiring to answer it. In James 4:11-12 it states: “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” So, how can my brothers and sisters in Christ continually condemn and shut me, and other LGBTQ community members, out?
I feel as if I am constantly fighting to validate my existence within the church and church community. Before I came out, I was a spiritual leader on campus, one that many people came to for prayer and counsel. I don’t see how my sexuality could change that? Because it didn’t, I was still the same God-fearing and Word-loving Christian that I was the day before I posted my coming out post. The real problem isn’t with me or with how I identify, I think the real issue here is a kind of fear– of the unknown, of things different. I have the same fears about different things so I understand a bit, though different circumstances (I don’t ever want to assume that I know or understand exactly what another human being is feeling because that isn’t possible).
Instead of responding in the fight or flight way that Christians do to this topic, we should turn to Romans and Paul’s writing to the Corinthians for further instruction: 1 Corinthians 13: “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” and Romans 13:8-10 “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,”and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
So what can you be doing better?
I think that is the wrong question to ask. Asking an LGBTQ person how you can do better, how you can love them better, comes from a good place, it does. And I don’t want to discount these questions and the intentionality behind them. But answering these questions, hundreds of times, over and over, and seeing no progress is tiring and hurtful and leads to greys and monochrome. I am tired of not living a technicolor life. I am tired of defending myself every day for a part of me I cannot change. I am tired of not finding solace in the church. I am tired of being tired. Instead of what can you do better to love us, how about “what can I do better to stand up against the injustices presented against you?” or “How, as an ally, can I fight this battle alongside you, support you, or both?”
So, Love us better by accepting us for who we are, letting us have representation in places that we normally wouldn’t, normalize homosexuality– because it is more normal than you would think, and get to know us for the other things that are in our life– talk to us about things other than our sexuality, let us be fellow humans and brothers and sisters in Christ with you. That is all I want. To feel loved, wanted, accepted, and colorful.
A prayer to share: Abba, father, I come to you in my vulnerability, my openness, my unknowingness. I pray that you can wipe out any bitterness, anger, confusion, or spite I have towards those different from me. Wipe away the feelings I have to need to be right, to push my agenda instead of yours. Father, make me your servant– a small paper lantern lighting the way to you. Instill in me your hope that bonds us gladly to each other, until finally, our world changes and faces the cross and your love.