I thought deeply and spiritually before writing this, as it is extremely personal and a very vulnerable and risky thing to expose, but I felt compelled to do it, because too many LGBTQIAP lives have been lost due to the abuses of the church, in the past, and present.
I am sick of the silence and the hostility. I am exhausted of feeling the need to prove my worth, that my place is within the church, and fighting for the right to be there in an active capacity.
I currently attend an affirming church where I am welcomed and treated like a human being with love and kindness, but I have not always attended churches that were that friendly, open and accepting.
I remember the years that I attended churches that condemned that sort of thing, and I tried to convince myself that I could ignore it when it happened, and pretend in my mind that it was simply ignorance that kept people from fully embracing others.
I thought that if they just were open to the proper education they would change. However this attitude proved almost fatal to my own soul because I continued to suffer under the mental torture of attending services and being exposed to homophobic remarks and beliefs and condemnations.
Why did I continue to do this? Because I truly loved the people I was around and I felt that they loved me (except for that one thing they didn’t know about) and that I could just live a double life, pretend to be straight in un-accepting churches and be true to my bisexual self in affirming ones.
I felt like a fish out of water, I felt like I was gasping for air in the pews, I would have headaches during service and stomach nausea. I knew the secret I was holding to myself, I knew that it bothered my spirit and my soul to pretend like it didn’t bother me that people didn’t fully love me to my face.
During passing of the peace, during the warm embraces, during the kisses and handshakes, and questions of “How are you and your family?” There was never a moment I didn’t think to myself, “If you knew would you still love me?”
“If you knew would you kick me out?”
“If you knew would you let your daughter sit on my lap during service or sit next to me in the pew?”
Church members commented on how children just gravitated to me like honey and I loved them as if they were my own. Knowing on the inside that if they found out I was not only a supporter but part of the LGBTQIPA community that I could possibly be shunned and looked at with disgust as a “perceived pedophile” hurt the core of my heart.
Even though I was lying to everyone through omission it hurt to know that when they said to me “I love you,” that they thought that they meant it, but they really didn’t mean it.
It hurts to watch people enter the clergy and become leaders in the church and have people tell me how much I should follow in my father’s footsteps, but that I can’t through our own denomination because I’m barred from it.
If it were fifty years ago, I would have been barred from it because I am a woman.
If it were more years than that, I wouldn’t be able to because I am Black.
I cannot even become a member in a church. People ask me why I church hop so much. They ask why I don’t stay somewhere. Because I’m not allowed to. That’s one of the reasons anyway. At the church I’m currently at, I have considered membership but it is a big commitment. I don’t feel like I should have to be tied to one church over any other, but that’s just my personal stance. I don’t want to feel obligated to stay somewhere that no longer serves my spiritual needs. All churches change over time. Pastors, worship, congregation and outreach among other things change.
It hurts to preach sermons as a lay woman and have thunderous applause by the very people who would vote me down each year for even requesting if we, the LGBTQIAP community would be allowed to join the clergy. It sickens me to my soul like a cancer. The feelings that these people have IS INDEED a cancer. People should NOT ask why the church is dying when this atrocity continues onward.
Part of the church, this part, NEEDS to die and it needs to die because it is insidious.
It drives youth to suicide.
It drives people to marry people they don’t and cannot ever love.
It drives people to have mental and emotional breakdowns.
It drives people to become bullies and torment people who are out to make them just as miserable as they are.
What’s even sadder is for the closeted self hating folk, some of them feel a major discomfort in the presence of people who are out and happy and secure in their sexuality and faith because they are jealous that they have what they can’t seem to get, or they feel the need to “save” them from Hell.
Hell is something that can and has been lived on this very Earth by numerous people and I can attest to that.
I am fortunate enough to have grown up under parents who loved and accepted my fully and told me that they would from day one.
My father and mother have stood by and supported me ever since I came out to them at eighteen years old.
Truth be told, I have never even been in a same sex relationship yet and I am twenty six years old now going on twenty seven, but I absolutely want the freedom to do so if I meet the right woman, and I don’t care to limit myself to experiencing men only and living half of my love.
This really isn’t about me though, it’s about providing a space and a voice for those who want to say something but are afraid of the backlash or feel alone in their churches and or families.
I am letting you know that I am here to listen and to love whenever, to whomever, for whatever, wherever.
I want these homophobic attitudes and condemnations in the church buried in the grave. It is a necessary and inevitable death and I hope that my generation is the one to kill it.
I have been too nice and I have been too silent and too gentle and too afraid. It is past time to act. That is why I am writing this to let the community be aware of it’s allies and it’s activists. I am a proud bisexual Christian woman, fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image. A God for whom is not limited by gender or sex. A God for whom is not simply HE, but SHE, WE, THEY, and everything ranging in between.
I remember distinctly a youth event where a Black woman had four jars of dyed colors and she poured bleach into the vases to show how God cleans our sin. One of those jars represented homosexuality.
I was not allowed to really react and I could not really walk out of the room because it would have exposed who I was and what I supported. I had to sit there and watch this woman “bleach” my person hood and call who I am a dirty, sinful thing.
It made me think of the people who look at race that way and see Blackness as a curse that needs to be bleached white for God to accept us as human beings.
Skin color is different than sexual orientation, I understand that, but there are similar struggles, and as a Black bisexual woman, I have felt first hand their parallels and what hurts even more is knowing how condemning the Black church or the Latino church can be about these issues, even more so culturally than the White church.
The mental and emotional agony, strain and gymnastics I had to do to stay within the church despite all this was almost like consuming poison.
I was told that spiritual food was good for me, and that it was healthy, and that I needed it, but it was soaking in a gravy of homophobia and racism and sexism and xenophobia.
Church is SUPPOSED to be the safe space. Church is supposed to be where I feel welcomed and loved. In church I shouldn’t have to hide who I am, or wonder if people will reject me.
It hurts so much. It’s so hard to even talk about.
Some people who simply don’t understand the state of being that is human sexuality will simply say just change your behavior.
It is the CHURCH that NEEDS to change its stone cold heart.
I will not be moved and I will not be bleached.
God created a creation of a spectrum of lovely colors.
I don’t need to change a thing about myself.
Mother God, Father God, Gender-less Non-Binary God of all things loves me as I am.
I will no longer tolerate accepting any less than love from the church. I am a hue-man being and I deserve to be treated with respect.
I will not kowtow to hatred and bigotry. There are no pews that ought to have a seat for that in our churches.
Kill this cancer!
Death to all hatred.
Save the children, because I know they are suffering in dark closets with guns to their head and knives at their throats wondering, who will love me? Who will accept me? How can I live my life happily? Where will I go after I die?
For a while I actually feared that my soul would split in two, that the “gay” part of me would go to hell and the “straight” part of me would go to heaven.
As cruelly as people were talking about homosexuality I just figured, nah, the whole thing is eclipsed and even me feeling the feelings and not acting on them would be enough to condemn me, despite all the good work I’ve done, despite all the love I have spread, somehow that just wasn’t enough.
That feeling of predestination, the feeling of inadequacy, strangeness, otherness and trying to live with this war in your mind in a silent pain, that is what Hell is.
So Hell is no threat to me, Hell doesn’t scare me. I’ve already seen Hell and it’s fear. Hell is wanting to commit suicide but being afraid to because you don’t want to go to hell, so you stay alive and continue to suffer in silence. That is a true Hell.
Hell is not loving or respecting yourself enough to fight for the right to live your own life. Hell is accepting the lie that you are sub-human and you deserve less, and that asking for equality is impossible and too much to ask for.
Hell is looking in the mirror and wanting to punch out the reflection because it’s so hideous to you and you don’t care if your fists bleed.
That is Hell.
No child, no single human being should ever have to endure these things. I have to get gung-ho about it because things in this country are about to go very backwards.
Gay conversion therapy .a.k.a. child abuse and torture camps are beginning to pop back up again.
I promise to push and to fight and to stay vigilant in this battle until my dying breath and hopefully less lives will be lost because I did. Hopefully I inspire others who are scared to speak up and stand up.
Do it for Humanity. Do it for God. Do it for Yourself. Do it for Others.
We are ALL brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. Never forget your worth. You are a beautiful creation of the most High!