Tamara Chastain

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The first time I remember knowing I was different from other girls I was around 3 years old. I loved playing with “boy’s toys”–trucks in the sand box, army men, building blocks, football. I loved sneakers over Mary Janes and pants over dresses. (Ya’ couldn’t hang upside down on the monkey bars in a dress!) By age five, I remember imagining my wedding, and I was always the groom, because even then, I knew I wanted a wife.

I didn’t know *of* any gay people, much less know any LGBTQ+ people or queer Christians, until I was a teen. I was very curious about them but they were picked on so badly in my conservative high school in rural Georgia, I kept my distance. Combine that with a Southern Baptist upbringing, and the message I received was gay equals bad, church equals good, and the two are forever incompatible. Outside forces were constantly telling me there was something wrong with being gay, but as I dug deep within myself looking for the conviction of the Spirit for being gay, I never found it. I lived a double life of good Christian girl on one hand and good gay girl on the other all the way through college. It was maddening and led to deep depression, anxiety, an eating disorder, and PTSD.

I never thought being gay was bad or wrong. I couldn’t understand why Christians were so anti-gay, which then morphed into anti-anything-but-straight-and-cisgender. I knew God loved me, and I had a strong assurance I was created in God’s image, with his full knowledge and endorsement of who I would become. I left the fight up to other people, though, for most of my life. Over the past nine years (after being outed by a gay church member, kicked off the worship team, and leaving my last church) I have deconstructed my faith and am reconstructing it as a vocal advocate of a Church that is fully affirming of all people. I will never hide who I am or who I love again. If I can’t be fully out in any church I attend with my girlfriend, fiancè or wife by my side, I won’t be attending! That is a huge change for me and has only become possible by acknowledging the homophobia I had internalized from years of hiding who I really was. I don’t feel like I am constantly looking over my shoulder any more, or living in fear someone at church might discover my dirty little secret! I am learning to be the person God created me to be.

I spent a long time studying everything I could find about Christianity and the LGBT community. I studied the clobber passages in the Bible in original Hebrew and Greek and deconstructed each verse word by word. So, the Bible and a Strong’s concordance were my first tools in reconciling my faith and sexuality. About five months ago, I stumbled onto “God is Grey” on YouTube. That was a life-changer for me! Brenda’s channel was my gateway drug into a world of Christian people who are (mostly) straight and cisgender who are unapologetically LGBTQ+ allies. After “God is Grey” came Nadia Bolz-Weber, Sarah Bessey, Pete Enns, Q Christian Fellowship, Ezer Rising, Naked Pastor, and others.

Today, I am rebuilding and reconstructing a life true to the person God created me to be. I am in the planning stages of a YouTube channel (“Lionhearted”) which will be fully active by mid-October. I’m writing again for the first time in years, and I think these stories are going to become a book. I’m enjoying music for the first time since I was pulled from my worship leader position and considering actually getting out into the world to perform again. I’m actively seeking out kindred spirits–online and in my own back yard–to interact with and invest in so we can help each other live our best lives. I am getting to know God again, being brutally honest with myself and with God about who I am. I’m actively seeking out joy, peace, and a deep sense of purpose and fulfillment as I reacquaint myself with my calling as a teacher and leader in the faith. I’m ready to meet “Her”, whoever and wherever she is, and begin the life we were meant to share.

I’m Tamara. Christian, female, super gay! Man, does it ever feel good to say that!