We asked some members from the FLURT team what it was like growing up LGBTQ and religious.
Jimalion on Her Relationship With God
Leviticus 18:22 says: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: It [is] abomination.” This is a verse from the Bible that I’ve heard on multiple occasions. I come from a family that’s strongly involved in the church. Both of my grandmothers are pastors of their own churches and most of my great aunts and uncles hold some position within the church. So growing up, I always heard that homosexuality was a sin. For the longest time I tried to uphold the things that every God-fearing Christian should: Go to Church, pay my tithes, pray, be selfless, no fornication, no lying, stealing or disobeying my parents. I thought that if I did these things I’d be happy, that God would be satisfied with the fact that I was walking down the right road. But at even a young age I knew that something wasn’t ‘right’ about me. I knew I was different. I had no idea what homosexuality was until I reached the sixth grade. And that’s around the time I started to notice my attraction to girls. I prayed every night for God to take the gay away. I just knew that I was going to hell because that was what my grandmothers had always preached. And I was scared out of my mind that I’d become the very thing that disgusted them, the thing that convinced them I was nothing but a sinner heading straight to the flames of hell.
It wasn’t until I got to high school that I started to explore more about what it meant to be a homosexual. I began to hang out with more of the LGBTQ community. I was searching for a sense of acceptance because I was convinced that once my family found out I was gay they’d disown me. And while I was getting to know more about the community, I for the life of me couldn’t understand what was so wrong about loving someone of the same sex. I slowly started to accept my sexuality as it was. When I came out, I felt like the world began to attack me all at once.
The members of my church started to single me out. My so-called-friends stopped being my friends. I received hateful letters in my locker calling me a disgrace, fag and all types of hurtful things. I’m not going to lie, I cried like a baby. I couldn’t understand how people could spit such foul things to someone who had done no wrong to them. I stopped going to church after that. I didn’t feel safe to go fellowship and worship the word of God in a room full of people that looked at me and saw an enemy.
It wasn’t until I came out to my family after I graduated that I felt a weight lifted off of my chest. They all took it well. They said they wanted me to be happy. But there was that one grandmother who still to this day tries to ‘pray the gay away.’ It took a few years for me to return back to church, but I learned that my relationship with God is my relationship and not anyone else’s. Things are not all the way accepted, but I’ve learned how to worship and block out the negative looks and comments. It’s no fun to hear people voice their opinion on how my love for God is not valid because I chose to love and be loved by a woman. But my faith is bigger than my fear. I simply turn the other cheek and keep it moving. It gets better. In the book of Psalms verse 5 it says: “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”
Jessica on Gaining Her Parents’ Acceptance
Growing up as a bisexual girl in a Catholic home was difficult. When I was young we went to church every Sunday and I went to a very strict Catholic school that had Bible classes every Friday. Going to a Catholic school and knowing I was somewhat different while hearing teachers and the pastor repeatedly talk about how not being straight was a sin took a heavy toll on me. My father and grandparents lived by the words of the pastor and hearing those hateful words from a very young age until I was 10 was not easy. I entered a more welcoming middle school but the words I had heard every day for years made it very hard to accept who I was. I had my first crushes on both guys and girls and I didn’t accept it for years. I’m now 19 and have come to terms with my sexuality. I’m a bisexual college student and my family has slowly learned over the years that not everything my teachers and pastor said was true. They’re not completely comfortable with it but they’re my family and I have their full support which is all I could ask for.
Danielle on Learning to Love Herself
I was raised in a Catholic family that prioritized going to church when my siblings and I were younger, but as we got older, religion took a backseat to our increasingly busy schedules. Religion was not something I considered optional for most of the younger years of my life, and I still feel the effects of that mindset to this day. I realized I wasn’t straight six years ago, right around the time of my fifteenth birthday. For me, this realization came in an aha moment, and looking back now, I realize the role religion played. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I have vivid memories of reading young adult novels before bed — when an LGBT character would come up in the text, I would get extremely anxious and stop reading the book. As I got older, I remember going back to the library to check out those same books and read them under my covers with a flashlight. I felt guilty and paranoid. I believe my relationship with religion when I was younger delayed my realization that I’m bisexual, though I have since redefined that relationship.
Peyton on Being Born in the Wrong Body
From a young age my family would go to church every Sunday, especially on holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Lent etc. There wouldn’t be a church session that we would miss. I was baptized in the Catholic church as a newborn and went to the Catholic Elementary school until Grade 5. The hardest struggle would have been that all my life I knew I was in the wrong body and yet I was trying to make my family happy but more so God. As we got older our busy schedules got in the way of religion. I still prayed at night and hoped things would get better. When I realized I was trans at a young age I still wouldn’t come out until much later. I was afraid the church would shun me, my family wouldn’t want anything to do with me and my grandparents who breathe and sleep religion would be disappointed in me. But, that wasn’t the case. When I finally came out as trans this year everyone made me feel more so loved and accepted. I’m now happier then ever and not afraid to be who I am with God by my side, my family and my community.
Originally published in the Winter 2016 Issue.
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