I’ve contemplated sharing my story for years. I’ve written and re-written this story, trying to perfect the words so that I speak as eloquently and gracefully as possible. Over those years, I’ve realized that eloquence is not always necessary, but transparency is. I am sharing my story because 50 innocent lives were taken at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Each and every one of those individuals were a part of the LGBTQ community in some way.
I am sharing my story because I too am a part of that community.
I’ve known my sexual identity was “different” since I was five years old. While I knew I was attracted to girls, I also quickly realized that it wasn’t “normal.” I became self-conscious about my attraction and how it made me look to my peers, and I learned how to conceal this sensitive part of my life.
At the same time that I was trying to understand what I was actually feeling inside, I was taught and conditioned to believe that this kind of attraction was not life-giving. I grew to believe that this attraction sent people like me straight to Hell. I spent night after night begging God to make me normal. I wasn’t gay. I couldn’t be! I didn’t like girls. That was disgusting.
Throughout high school I managed to shove this attraction of mine into the depths of my secret closet (for the most part). It wasn’t until college that I was actually exposed to homosexuality for the first time. It was as if everything all of a sudden made sense, yet at the same time I was covered in more confusion. What did this mean for me? What did this mean for my soul?
College was also where I was exposed to the Gospel for the first time. It was then that I began to understand that there was a God who loved me unconditionally. I began to understand that Christ gave up his life for me, even though I was a girl who was attracted to girls. I wanted to know that God; I wanted to know that God intimately. How could I not? I gave my life to Christ, and from that point on, it was no longer I who lived, but Christ who lived in me.
Unfortunately, the conditioned beliefs that I held so closely to me were not easy to leave behind. My confused sexual identity began to present itself again not long after I accepted Christ, and I had to respond. I believed this part of me would not be welcome in my Bible Study, in my church, in my community gatherings. I made the decision to keep this part of me a secret from my Christian community. I couldn’t risk losing everything because of an attraction I couldn’t change. As I began to tip-toe into the LGBTQ world, I had no one to walk with me. This resulted in alcohol and drug abuse, lies and omission of truth, secrecy, paranoia, and anxiety. The fear of losing the community that I had poured much of my life into outweighed the reality of who I am; this is the story of too many LGBTQ brothers and sisters in the world today.
I understand the Gospel. I understand that I was once in darkness, and I am now a child of light (Eph. 5:8). I understand that I must walk in the light of the Lord. I understand that I have been set free in the Gospel (Gal. 5:1). I understand that I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Because I understand these things, I also understand that I don’t have to hide this part of my life anymore. Because of the Gospel, I know that there are much more important things to focus my time and energy on than keeping a secret about sexuality. These Scriptures have become themes in my life. They have become Truths that I cling to. I have nothing else to hope in, if not the Gospel. Everything else crumbles under the weight of my worship. No secret, no ministry group, no sexuality can bring me the eternal hope that comes from knowing Christ.
Today, as I scrolled through newsfeeds and watched the story unfold, my heart began to break. People were murdered for who they are. People were murdered for who I am. While I hide anxiously, while I keep my secrets and stay comfortable in my closet, people are dying. It’s disgusting. 50 people died today, but how many have died in my lifetime for being part of the LGBTQ community? I have no idea, and I’m sure you don’t either.
I have spent much of my life worried about how people would react to my coming out. “Will they still read my blog posts if they are not through the lens of a heterosexual woman?” This is just a sample of the many questions that flow through my mind. The truth is, my blog posts are saturated with Gospel Truth whether I am LGBTQ or not. The truth is, whether I marry a man or a woman, my spouse will have to accept my sexual identity (whatever that may be), because it is something that cannot be changed. The truth is, my peers don’t have to accept me, and some of them probably won’t. I have close friends that know me and love me and affirm me. I have close friends that disagree with me, and they still love me. I also have lost friendships over the years. I have learned (and am still learning) that my identity is Christ. I am learning that God loves me unconditionally and offers me freedom from the secrecy; God offers freedom from fear of abandonment from humans because He is the ultimate comfort that I should find my rest in. Most importantly, I have learned that silence is indeed deafening. My silence tells other LGBTQ Christians that they need to be silent as well. My silence agrees with the belief that I cannot love Christ with an identity that falls within the LGBTQ community. My silence allows acts of terror like the mass shooting in Florida to happen. I cannot be silent anymore.
To the LGBTQ community, I am sorry this note is so overdue. I am sorry that I’ve hidden in the shadows while you have been persecuted. I am sorry that it has taken a tragedy like this mass shooting for me to find the ability to step forward. I am sorry that the Church has left you feeling oppressed and unwelcome for many, many years. I am sorry that some churches still chose to not recognize the massacre for what it was: a hit to the LGBTQ population. I am sorry that you have not felt loved by the Church. I hope and pray that will change. I hope and pray that a bridge is slowly being built. Change must happen, and it must happen soon. I pray for relationships to form between hetero- and homo-sexual Christians. I pray for conversations to start, and for understanding to begin. No one can be silent any longer. Too many people are dying as a result of our silence.
If publicly standing with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters can encourage just one person that there is hope to be found from all of this, then I will stand. If I can provide hope to the struggling Christian who doesn’t understand why God made him/her this way, then I will stand. If I can shed light on the idea that people in the LGBTQ community can know and love the Lord, then I will stand. I believe that everything can and does ultimately work for the glory of God, and that includes my sexuality. How can I leverage my sexual identity for God? He did not “grant my wish” to have my sexuality changed when I was younger. I can only believe that God has a plan for my sexuality. How can I use this identity he has blessed me with, to bless someone else?
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t have all of the theology memorized. I am still learning; I am still growing. My journey is like no one else’s, and I can speak for no one else. It has taken me years to be thankful for the journey that the Lord has put me on. It has taken me a long, long time to understand who I am, and how God loves me. HECK, I am still figuring me out. Where will this journey take me? I have no freaking clue. I am learning to find joy in that mystery. Regardless, I do know this: God uses broken people like me, and that has nothing to do with my sexuality.