It wasn’t until I was about 25 and having breakfast with my sister and two friends at The Friendly Toast in Boston that a very heavy burden fell off my shoulders that I had been carrying around my whole life. I clicked well with our waitress and was talking to her a lot when my sister’s friend said, “Why don’t you just write your number on her hand or something? Woah…are you even into women?” I faltered over how to respond, and apparently, not saying anything at all is the same as saying yes. On the plane ride home to MI, my thoughts were running a thousand miles an hour—perhaps faster than the plane. What will happen when the Baptist churches I would faithfully attend with my family find out? Could I ever go back? Will the Christian fellowship group I’m a part of at MSU kick me out? Let me still be a leader? How will my parents respond? I could feel that burden crawling back onto my shoulders again. Then a funny thing happened. I realized I had sat in the wrong seat on the plane, yet no one made me move. I looked at the man next to me and told him my concern. He smiled and said, “I’m sure it’s ok, you can stay.” I then noticed that he was wearing a rainbow bracelet. I tend to be curious about bracelets because it seems like people always have a story behind them. I asked him what his bracelet was for and he told me he is gay. All the way home, we talked about life and the journey of coming out. I even told him my concerns about being Christian & how that would work. He said, “I know it’s scary, but some people will surprise you.” And that’s exactly what happened. I feel like God set up that encounter, and since then, I began my journey of coming out little by little to more people.
I got mixed responses. I found out a few of my closest friends weren’t surprised at all, they had always wondered if I was gay, and my family ended up being loving toward me. However, I did get some harsh messages from people within the Baptist church, and wasn’t allowed to become a leader for the college Christian fellowship group which hit me hard. But like my friend on the plane said would happen, a few people from my church and old college group came to me in support which surprised me a lot. However, it wasn’t enough to make me feel welcome at the Baptist churches and that small amount of support couldn’t change the fact that I couldn’t sign the contract (which blatantly condemned homosexuality) to be a leader for the fellowship group. I then desperately wanted to belong somewhere, so I began looking up LGBT+ groups on campus, and luckily MSU is extremely friendly in that criteria. They had a lot of groups, and I was ecstatic when I realized that a club existed for Queer Christian people—QCROSS. They happily welcomed me into their group and introduced me to affirming churches in the area, and I never before felt more at home.
All the way from kindergarten through high school graduation, I had attended a small, private Christian school in Troy, MI. They were against a lot of things—homosexuality was towards the top of the long list. My first crush was on girl in my sister’s class in elementary. As I grew older, I came to the conclusion that my attractions were abnormal, even sinful. Shame began to build within me till I felt like I could burst. I began to pray to God to be different, I kept praying those magical salvation words and getting re-saved over and over, and on multiple occasions I even asked God to take me to heaven because nothing I tried was changing me. I ended up dating men only to get hurt or hurt them which struck my life with a lot of strife and anxiety. After having come-out, I realized my relationship with God has grown exponentially stronger. I finally felt whole. However, attacks did come my way. The most difficult thing to hear from people in my old church is their opinion on my walk with God. People would write to me over the social media, and because I’m lesbian, they would “assume” I no longer go to church, that I never pray, that I’m promiscuous, that I’m just “confused,” and nothing could be farther from the truth. The best piece of advice that I have from that experience is: Never let anybody tell you how your relationship with God is. Your walk with God is yours and yours alone. I feel like God is for me, and even though I may not have realized it growing up, he has always been for me and has always loved me just the way I am. God wouldn’t have made me this way and will that I be alone. That goes against His character and His entire reason for creating more than one human in the beginning (Genesis 2: 18 “And the Lord God said, It is not good that man should be alone…”).
I recently attended MBLGTACC in Normal, IL. It was a complete culture shock for me, but I learned so much there. I remember at the opening ceremony, Laverne Cox saying, “Hurt people hurt people.” Then at the ending ceremony, Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington said, “Self-work, healing, forgiveness, & self-love are necessary for acceptance of others.” When you accept yourself for who you are, you are more capable of loving and accepting others, and others are more capable of loving you as well because you let them. I think this is why my relationship with God grew so much stronger. The feeling of disappointing Him and feeling judged by Him ceased when I came to realize that I am just the way He made me to be and that I am worthy of his love. So, it’s better.
On a final note, Easter is approaching. Remember, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. He didn’t just give His life for some people. He gave His life for you, for me, and for everyone who wants to know Him!