Caitlin Stout

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I’ve known that there was something “different” about me ever since kindergarten. But it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college (at a conservative Evangelical university) that I finally looked in a mirror and said the words “I’m gay” out loud.

It was both liberating and terrifying.

Growing up in Evangelical purity culture, LGBTQ issues were never addressed. I believed that all forms of attraction outside of established relationships were just “lust” and therefore sinful, that same-sex relationships were unacceptable for Christians, and that I could only remain in the church if I committed to a life of celibacy or somehow brought myself to marry a man.

Today, I realize that my Queerness is a gift. It has deepened my relationship with the Divine. It has given me a community and a chosen family. It has allowed me to empathize with other marginalized groups and has ignited a passion for social justice. It has broken down the tiny boxes in which I was trying to fit concepts such as “Love,” “Beauty,” identity,” and “Friendship”, and shown me that such things are not meant to be pinned down or defined.

Today, I believe that my Queerness is not only affirmed, but blessed and celebrated by God.

I owe much of my journey to self-acceptance to Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, Queer Christian Twitter, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, MI.

Today, I am preparing to enter my second year of seminary at Vanderbilt Divinity School, where I study theology and chaplaincy. I am also in the early stages of the ordination process with the Metropolitan Community Church. I live in Nashville with my wonderful partner, Emily, who makes me happier than I ever thought was possible. When I’m not studying, I am working as a barista at a local Nashville coffee shop, hanging out with Emily and our dog or reading a book at a nearby brewery. Life is good, and every day I wish that I could tell my 19-year-old self how much better it really does get.