In my life, I’ve spent a large portion of my educational career at a Catholic school – my elementary/middle school was a tiny little Catholic school in my hometown and my oh so lovely college alma mater is a tiny Catholic university in north Portland, OR. Despite spending plenty of time at mass or in religion class or even in a Christian youth group for some time in high school, I never really felt connected to my own faith. Today is, of course, Easter Sunday, meaning that I’ve spent the last few days of Holy Week really reflecting on my own history and struggle with faith.
Particularly after coming out as queer in college, it was really hard for me to try and have faith and my identity coexist. Resources at my school never made it particularly easy for me to resolve the struggle – in fact, they usually made things worse. I spent a lot of time thinking the many negative things I faced as a queer student were my fault but soon realized I wasn’t alone in my struggle. During the last semester of my second year at the school, I decided to interview and film several friends who were LGBTQ+ or an ally. I ended up getting an incredible amount of footage and even though it has been a few years since the interviews, I doubt much has changed on many religious campuses.
In my junior year of college, I was fortunate enough to stumble across a task force at a Portland non profit looking to maintain a bridge between religious and queer communities and provide a community for those who were faithfully LGBTQ+. We met once a month in a downtown building conference room and it was through that wonderful and consistent group of people that I learned about love and forgiveness. Through these lovely people, I finally found a home and a chosen family to call my own. And it was through this group that I really got to know a diverse group of faithfully LGBTQ+ and allied folks.
Currently though, being out of school and away from the support system I built up over years means I’m spending a hell of a lot more time being religiously and faithfully ambiguous. I don’t have a church or faith community to call my own in my hometown but there is still a part of me that still feels unbelievably connected to faith.
There are a few people who are open about being faithfully LGBTQ+ that I regularly follow. Eliel Cruz is definitely one of those people – he regularly writes about being a bisexual Christian and the intersection of faith and sexual orientation for several different platforms. My first introduction to him came through a spoken word video he did a few years ago:
Another person has been J Mass III, someone I originally heard about through Nia King’s podcast We Want the Airwaves. J Mass III does some really amazing spoken word poems, writes about several issues, and also does a regular conversation on Twitter on #qfaith. Below is one of my favorite poems from J Mass III:
It has taken me a really long time to realize that the bigotry I was fed about religious homophobia is not the constant reality, that God does not hate me for being queer. There was one night in particular in which I remember opening up to the task force I mentioned earlier and ended up breaking down in tears because I finally admitted how much it hurt to constantly hear how much God apparently hated queer people. And when I finish, there was a moment of silence before the woman across from me looked right at me and said:
God loves you. God loves you so much.
And it hadn’t been until that moment that I really believed that God loved me, that I was worthy of love and acceptance. It’s been two years since that moment but I still remember it so vividly. Ultimately, it has been a very long time since I went to church but the acceptance and love I remember from the faithful people I’ve interacted with over the past few years still makes me feel whole and worthy.
So to all those who are struggling with faith and sexual orientation/gender, believe me when I say that you are worthy, you are unbelievably wonderful, you are most certainly not broken. You are life and loved and wanted in this world. ❤ ❤