I knew who I was in middle school , but I did not come out to friends until I was 15.
I was raised in a church that preached against LGBTQ+ people, but I was also raised by loving parents. I heard so many stories that you simply could not be queer and Christian, and I heard so many people say it was a sin deserving of hell. These teachings and remarks pushed me away from church and I decided I couldn’t be a part of a faith that rejected me.
When I started to fall away from church, my family continued to show me what real love through God looked like. My mom reminded me that true faith comes from love from God and not from the humans who run individual churches. In college, I started testing my faith out again after hearing these affirming messages from my mom. I tried out a couple of churches, went to a screening of the documentary “For the Bible Tells Me So,” and became aware of pro-LGBTQ+ faith organizations. It wasn’t until I was 28 that I met someone in my martial arts class who told me about a lesbian priest at her church, I decided to meet this priest and try out church again. One of the most powerful moments of my faith journey came from a friend, who was challenging my view of being anti-church. We are both teachers, and she asked me if I agreed with the institution of education. I excitedly explained that I did not and listed all the problems with schools, then she asked me (and I am paraphrasing) “how being a part of church is different”. I realized that not only can I be proud of my faith, but I can also be a part of the solution.
I found different organizations such as Whosoever and FaithfullyLGBT, but ultimately it was conversations with LGBTQ+ clergy that provided the most affirmation. I am blessed to have supportive family and friends who have been affirming of who I am and my faith longer than I was willing to accept it.
I have become a stronger person, and I have become a person who believes in the power of prayer. I have been able to use my faith to reach others who have struggled with being LGBTQ+ and faith. I have been able to be happier, and during moments when I feel down, I am able to let go and remember where I get my strength from.