I didn't allow myself to come out to myself until I was 23. Whenever feelings for women would arise I would quickly panic and shut them down and strongly shift my focus to men. Being bisexual, that worked for the most part.
I had to become affirming of LGBTQ+ Christians first and call myself a 'straight ally' and even then, I took an additional couple years before I could begin to allow my mind to 'go there'. It wasn't until I was sitting in a Buddhist temple on the other side of the world after leaving my job and on a solo trip where I found the space and presence of God Herself to say: yes, I am bisexual.
I was raised in an environment that wasn't outright against LGBTQ+ individuals, I was just surrounded by silence regarding the topic. That silence shifted to opposition and a deeply ingrained belief that same sex attraction is 'the worst sin'.
I was raised in a Presbyterian church and attended a Lutheran school, then heavily involved in a conservative youth group and the Christian Club at my public high school. I experienced Evangelical modern worship music for the first time as a teenager and felt a connection to God that I had never felt before. I sought this 'Jesus high' throughout college, always wanting more of it.
I would attend whatever prayer sessions, worship nights and Bible studies I could cram into my full schedule. During the summer, away from my Evangelical college I would read my Bible diligently in the break room at my seasonal job in an effort to face my fears of evangelism and to show my coworkers that I was not afraid to be known as a Christian. The thought that I myself was attracted to women never crossed my mind at this time. It was so immensely suppressed and I was so focused on chasing that 'Jesus high' it just wasn't on my radar.
I lived in SF for a semester in college and I focused on the Castro (gay neighborhood) for a class project. At that time I transitioned to a place of 'love the sinner, hate the sin'.
The following semester as an RA on campus I chose the subject of 'homosexuality' for a project as one of the 'you may have to deal with this at some point with a student, what should you do?' It was through this project that my heart first broke and I began to fill with rage. I learned directly from the campus pastor that he was tired of talking about this topic and students should just go to conversion therapy. I heard the hesitation from campus counselors to admit that they are affirming but don't tell anyone because they would lose their job.
I couldn't shake this empathy and met more and more underground LGBTQ+ students on the Evangelical school's campus. With each story of fear, of hiding, of self harm, of harassment, and of absolutely no support from the administration, I wanted to do something. I attempted to create a new training for RAs on this topic in the hopes that an LGBTQ+ student would not be met with opposition or prayer for change if they were to confide in their RA. I was shut down in this pursuit and learned that even the few employees that were allies on the campus would not stand up to the administration in fear of losing their jobs. Other LGBTQ+ students and allies charged ahead with this fight once I graduated, successfully creating a more visible presence and safe space on campus for LGBTQ+ students.
I then worked for that same college, but thankfully in San Francisco, away from the sight of the administration. During that time I became fully affirming of same sex relationships through my own research and reading the stories of others. I was still fearful to begin to ask myself what my sexuality was, especially knowing that I had signed a behavioral contract with my evangelical college employer that forbade 'homosexual activities'.
The most important resources for me in my journey were personal stories, LGBTQ+ Christian twitter, Mathew Vines, and the Q Christian Fellowship (at the time GCN) Conferences.
Now, I am engaged to my person and we're getting married in less than 2 months. I have never felt more alive and more fully myself than when I am with her. We live in San Francisco and I now work for an organization that openly supports my sexuality.
I stopped attending church after I came out, as the non-denominational one that I was going to is not affirming and does not have women in leadership roles. I still have a great deal of cynicism towards the church and Christians as a whole. I tried going to an affirming church pretty soon after that but still felt a great deal of anxiety from just hearing worship music and simply hearing someone saying that they're 'praying for someone else'. It just felt extremely inauthentic.
My partner was raised Catholic and has always felt called to be a priest. She has the unique opportunity to use her gift of preaching once a month with a small LGBTQ+ Catholic community. She always tells me that I don't have to attend these communion services with her, but I have found that I don't feel the anxiety in this space because it is a welcoming and safe space, filled with the marginalized of which I am a part. I also don't speak with Mother God too often these days, but I do feel her presence when my partner is preaching.
I've chiseled my faith down to simply 'love' these days. God and I are still good, I don't feel that we've ever really been bad, and I fully believe that she blesses my upcoming marriage to my person.