A few years ago, I watched an online sermon from a mega church I was attending at that time. A friend of mine had suggested I watch it after a discussion we had. From what I remember, the sermon talked about the effects of premarital sex and what the Bible has to say about it. Towards the end of the message, the pastor started talking about how homosexuality is a sin. He then paraphrased the following verses:
9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 NIV
He then went on to tell about a something he either read or heard about a pastor who was on the radio answering questions. I think he said someone called in and asked why the church didn’t accept gays in church. The pastor said that gays are always welcome in church and love on them. If I remember correctly, the pastor said they could come listen to sermons, participate in worship, attend church functions, but would not be able to take on a leadership role. When I heard that, it was as if someone had punched me in the stomach. I would never be allowed to be a spiritual leader no matter where I attended. During the time I watched the sermon by the pastor of the mega church, I had not fully come out. He said, “We must love the sinners, but hate the sin.” You can only imagine how ‘dirty’ I felt.
I grew up going to church just about every Sunday. I participated in Children’s Choir, attended Vacation Bible School in the summer, studied scriptures for the week’s Sunday school lesson, went to church camp, and spent countless hours memorizing the names of the Old and New Testaments in the Bible. As I got older though, I didn’t attend as much. In 2010, I had a spiritual awakening, and began to attend the mega church on a regular basis.
Slowly I began to slip away from going after hearing the end of the sermon in 2011. I have never lost my belief in my faith. I lost faith in the church. I have always known that I had a calling on my life to serve the needs of others. The one place I felt like I belonged soon became the place that I avoided. I stopped going to one group that introduced me to new friends and was like a support system for all of us single moms. I felt if the leader of this group found out about my sexuality that she would ban me from attending. Besides, if I ever wanted to serve as a small group leader, I wouldn’t be able to do so. All because of one small fraction of who I am and being attracted to the same sex. I was not going to be of use to them, so why stick around?
Over the past two years, I have been on a spiritual journey of my own. I have researched and have asked myself, ‘What is God’s true view about homosexuality?’ I found out that God loves me for who I am. God is not angry with me or other LGBTs out in the world. It’s some people’s perception that He is.
My mother recently asked me when I was going to start attending church again. I told her I am slowly warming up to it, but fear is still holding me back. I have come to realize that I can help others without being a leader in a church setting. I can still serve people regardless of my sexuality. I am a good person even though I have flaws in my character. I will eventually go back, but not anytime soon.
I have talked about my sexuality a few times on here, but I’m not sure if I have talked about what I have gone through before I came out. If I’m repeating myself, I’m sorry, but hopefully my experience can help others out there.
I grew up in a conservative Southern Baptist home. My mother made sure my brother and I went to church on a regular basis, and that we were part of church activities. I didn’t know anything about homosexuality until I had gotten older. When I was around 9 or ten, some girls my age were becoming interested in boys and talking about who they thought was cute. I could’t relate to thinking guys were cute or that I wanted to date them. I didn’t become aware of my sexual orientation until I was 12. I had developed a crush on a girl I knew, but couldn’t understand why. “I’m supposed to have crushes on boys, not girls!” I told myself. My mom saw I was depressed and asked me to tell her why I was. I remember I started crying and told her I think I should have been born a boy. She asked me why and I told her about my crush on this certain girl. She told me that I was going through puberty so it was probably was just a phase I was going through. I convinced myself of that, but it just didn’t feel right. I hid my true self behind failed heterosexual relationships I had when I was in high school. It was in high school I was exposed to more things about sexuality and how homophobic some people in my school were. I saw one guy constantly get picked on because of being gay. Kids can be so cruel and not realize that their words and actions can have a huge impact on someone’s life. It wasn’t until I graduated that I decided to come out. When I told one of my family members, they said if I was ‘going to be that way’ that they didn’t want to associate with me. When I told my mom, she said she already knew I was because of some behaviors I displayed while I was going up. After that, she took me to an OB/GYN so they could talk to me about the ‘lifestyle’ I wanted to live. That doctor said I needed reparative therapy and gave me the number for a counselor that could help me. After I started to see the counselor, I pretended I was being healed and ready to live a heterosexual life. I went back behind the mask, got married and had a child. I was never in love with my ex-husband. I enjoyed his companionship and just having someone to spend time with away from the tension at home with my parents. In 2008, I fell head over heels in love with a girl I met in a chat room set up for Evanescence fans. She and I had a volatile relationship though that was toxic and drove me to the brink of a mental breakdown in 2011. I would deny being a relationship with her, before things got volatile, but my parents knew better. I was repeatedly told that I was living in sin and that God would punish me for having same sex relationships. It was so hard to hide my identity when I decided to get involved in church again. In 2012, I had enough of living a lie and came out as a lesbian. I still hid it from some of my friends at church, but today I’m coming clean. I am a lesbian and have been all my life. No, I’m not attracted to every woman I see or come in contact with. Within my own spiritual journey, I have gotten to know a God who loves me for who I am and how I treat others, not who I fall in love with. I am finally comfortable with who I am. I know there are people out there who don’t agree with the person I am, but they aren’t going to change me. They can call me all kinds of names, but should they ever try to attack me, they better watch out. I have lived in fear too long, now I’m ready to fight back. I am and always will be a fighter for equal rights and fairness everyone upon this Earth deserves.
If you are reading this and can relate to hiding behind a mask, you aren’t alone. Sometimes you have to stand alone and fight for what you love. If anyone makes you feel like crap because you’re a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, just know that they are doing it out of fear. When some people see something that in their eyes isn’t ‘normal’, they react in fear. That fear comes in different forms and one of them is words. Stand strong and know that I stand with you to face those who tell you that your sexuality is wrong. Nothing is wrong with you. You’re not a freak, damaged person or whatever else some hateful person tells you. You are who you were created to be and you are beautiful. There is no such thing is ‘normal’, that’s just a setting on a washing machine or dishwasher.