I first started questioning my sexuality when I was 17 or 18, and I was trying to date boys, but as soon as anything remotely romantic happened, I would back off. Aged 21, I came across the term “asexual” on the internet, and after a bit of research, I decided that this was definitely the word for me. Since then, I have been dedicated to learning more about the wider LGBTQ+ community and educating others. I’ve discovered lots more terms that describe my sexuality better, so I now identify as bisexual/abrosexual, which means my sexuality is fluid but generally speaking, I am attracted to most genders. I have also recently been questioning my gender identity and gender expression. I think I may be a demigirl, but I’m still questioning and learning more day by day.
When I was younger, I heard a lot of people condemning homosexuality in churches. When I would ask my parents about it, they would say that there are different ways of interpreting the bible, and that they would rather two people be together who loved each other and were the same sex than two people of different sexes be together but hurt each other. I guess their attitude really helped when it came to questioning my own sexuality. By the time I started uni, I was welcoming of LGBTQ+ people, but thought they shouldn’t be allowed to get married in a church because of what I'd been taught at my youth group. Thankfully, I came around very quickly!
By the time I realised that I was LGBTQ+, I was fully affirming of queer people and queer Christians, thanks to Vicky Beeching and her coming out story. She spoke about God loving her regardless, and this really aligned with my view of God. I’m so grateful to her, because I don’t know what I would have done if I’d realised I was LGBTQ+ before I was affirming!
I now not only believe that God loves LGBTQ+ people regardless of our sexuality or gender identity, but because of them! Queer people have so many gifts and are able to offer a unique perspective on the world that cis/straight people can’t. I love that God has used me since I’ve come out to encourage others to be more inclusive, support other people (especially people of faith) who are questioning or closeted, and to hopefully change a few hearts to be more loving and affirming!
Following Vicky Beeching and her story after coming out has been so encouraging for me. I would read the article where she came out over and over again if I felt down. When she released her book, I was over the moon! I pre-ordered it, read it in 2 days, and then lent it to all of my friends and family to read it, too! I’ve also been really uplifted by queer readings of the bible–both in person at Greenbelt and listening to Peterson Toscano–and through Queer Theology, especially their podcast. I also couldn’t have reached a place of affirmation without people around me who loved me and encouraged me to look deeper into the Bible for the answers that I was looking for. Open Table in Liverpool was an especially big part of my journey.
My life now is just amazing! I go to a church that is not only fully affirming, but has a Pride Wall in the entrance and marches at Leeds Pride as a church community! I’ve been so lucky to find affirming Christian spaces where I live, and I even live with another LGBTQ+ Christian! I love myself so much more than I ever thought I could because I am constantly reminded by the people around me that I am beautifully created.
1 Corinthians 14:1 says “let love be your highest goal”, and this is a Bible passage that I try and live by. Because I am so loved, I try and pass on as much of that love to others, especially those who are LGBTQ+. I am so privileged to run an LGBTQ+ youth group so that I can pay forward the love and support that I’ve received to the next generation. The faith and confidence of my youth group really inspires me!