I want to talk about what it’s like to be LGBT and a Christian. I’m not here to debate theology, science, or anything of the sort. My goal is to share my experience to help others have some insight about the struggle that I and many others face. This is going to be one of my longer posts; please bear with me.
This is my second time confessing this publicly via some form of social media: I am bisexual. I’m also very openly a believer of Jesus Christ, a born-again child of the kingdom of God. Many of you will argue and wonder about whether or not I can be both of those things, but that isn’t the point of this post. If you would like to discuss that, feel free to ask me personally and I will gladly share my beliefs and listen to yours. However, I am writing this, as I said before, simply for the purpose of sharing my experience.
The first time I can remember thinking anything about the possibility of being attracted to boys was when I was 10. Of course, my first thought was denial. There was no way that I could be attracted to boys. I’d been raised in church and while the topic of homosexuality wasn’t exactly a normal Sunday School conversation topic, I knew enough by listening to adults speak that I shouldn’t have been feeling the way I did. Being gay was right up there with being a murderer or a rapist, right? Why did I almost never see gay people on the tv shows I watched? Why did “gay” get used almost like a curse word? All I had ever known was this: being gay was an abomination. Even at 10, I knew what “abomination” meant, seeing as I was already a very avid reader with a love for impressing people with big words.
I continued to occasionally think about the idea. I would always make excuses for things that I liked or did that were considered “gay.” I knew for certain that I liked girls, so there was no way that I could be gay. Right? All through high school I wrestled with curiosity and fear. I searched everywhere for answers. I followed scientific and biblical trails that only led to more questions, more fear, and more shame. I spent more nights than I can remember on the floor of my church’s sanctuary consumed with fear, confusion, and guilt as I asked God to help me quit feeling the way I did. I was already suffering from depression and the battle against something I could not control fueled the pain. I was cutting myself deeper and more often – both literally and figuratively – and having anxiety attacks in the middle of my bedroom floor that left me feeling completely and pathetically alone. Have you ever hated a part of yourself so much that you physically hurt? I wanted answers. Why couldn’t I stop the way I was feeling? Why was I not allowed to feel the way I did. What was wrong with me? What was I?
In addition to all the self-abuse, I was faced with rumors and people talking about me behind my back. My high school was not a safe place and many of the students there wanted nothing more than to tear others down. I was fearful. Fearful of what my friends would think, what my church would think, what my own family would think. Imagine one of the people you hold dearest in your life telling you that you were going to hell for the way that you felt, even though your feelings were hopelessly out of your control.
I don’t fear much in life – I have always been pretty adventurous. I love to climb trees to the very top, stand up in the back of moving pick up trucks, and any other thrill I can conjure up. This was different, though. Those were all things I chose to do. I chose to see if the branch I was about to use as a foothold was going to be strong enough to hold me. This, however, was not something that I chose. I was scared of how people would treat me and scared for my soul.
When I got to college I thought I was far enough away from my old life that maybe I could try to embrace these feelings that I had boxed up and padlocked shut in the back of my mind. College campuses were supposed to be inclusive and I had since discovered the concept of being bisexual. I could like boys and at the same time like girls. I began the process of “coming out” to people. I was met with nothing but support and no one changed how they felt about me or how they treated me. Some people joked about it, but in a harmless, non-hateful way that they made sure I was comfortable with. I even encouraged others to begin embracing their own sexuality.
Towards the end of my first semester things went bad. I received messages asking about a rumor that was apparently going around the high school I formerly attended. The rumor was just that – a rumor – but the other boy involved was being bullied and made fun of for it and I blamed myself. While I had started to become more comfortable with myself (largely because of the amazing people that I met at my university), I still suffered from depression and had even recently began taking medicine to try to deal with it. This rumor – and hearing that a good friend of mine was being bullied because of it – was enough to send this stressed out college student over the edge. That night I decided that I was going to take my own life. I climbed to a spot that was often joked about on my campus with the goal of doing the act that was often joked about. As you can see, I didn’t follow through, but that’s a story for another post. The feelings that I had long suppressed but had come to accept, as well as people’s attitudes towards LGBT, caused pain in a friend’s life and enough pain in my own that I was pushed to a point that no one should ever be pushed to.
I eventually recovered from the event and began trying to become more comfortable in my own skin. I was still in so much emotional pain, constantly wondering how I could ever be comfortable being bisexual when I also called myself a Christian. I cried myself to sleep often. I continued self-harming. I still had nights where I got on my knees next to my bed and petitioned to God to free me from the way that I felt.
To make matters worse, that semester was during the 2016 election. When I heard that Donald Trump had won the election, I cried. It wasn’t even really about politics (although I’ve always been pretty outspoken about my dislike for him). It was about the fact that throughout his campaign, people had used him as a figurehead for their hatred and prejudice. People became bolder and bolder; I had to look in horror as I saw and heard what people began to say. The hatred towards the LGBT community was all over social media, chalked onto the sidewalks of my university, and preached across the nation. Why? I loved God, so why would His people be so against people like me who had no choice in how they felt. Once again I was flooded with fear and shame. All the questions that I had fought to answer for so long reared their ugly heads. Can I be bisexual and love God? Am I really a Christian? Am I going to heaven when I die? Why do I still feel this way? I asked God to take this from me, why hasn’t He?
The following summer I went to a Pride festival in Nashville, Tennessee. I was surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of people who I thought were like me. I felt like maybe I wasn’t as alone as I thought, but it came to my realization that most of these people had probably left religion behind and rarely looked in the rear view mirror. They exuded confidence and looked so much more comfortable with the way they were than I was. Along with this, I realized that social media was filled with other people from the LGBT community bashing Christians, bashing God, and bashing religion in general. They verbally attacked people who claimed to be LGBT but still loved God. I realized that I didn’t really belong in this community and once again I felt alone.
This last year proved to be an interesting one as I continued to seek answers to questions that I had been trying to answer since the fifth grade. I even came out to my parents who, to their credit, responded much better than I expected. Granted, my expectation had been developed by my mind creating the worst-case scenario and running with it, but nonetheless it was a burden lifted from my shoulders. The battle got easier from there. I knew my parents weren’t exactly approving, but they knew and continued to love me anyway.
The most recent step in this journey came on Twitter during Pride Month this year. I decided that I would publicly come out on the social media site, and I was overwhelmed with all the love and support I was shown from fellow LGBT, fellow Christians, friends, and even some people I had never met.
I’m still on this journey. I have found some answers, but I’m not sure this is a path that ever really ends. Answers always come with new questions and there will always be hate in the world for people like me. If you’ve stuck with me and read this far, I want you to understand that my life being both bisexual and Christian has not been an easy one. I want to thank the people who have helped me and supported me throughout my struggle. You know who you are.
To the Christians – please pray for me with the love of God in your hearts. Remember that the commandment that He gave us above all others was to love Him and to love others. And before you judge, think about what you’ve read here. Your words can be detrimental to the lives of some, especially if you truly do want them to reach heaven with you. To the LGBT – I am a Christian, but I am not against you. Don’t think that I wish hatred upon you and I’m sorry for the words that other Christians have said to you. I’m sorry if religion has caused you pain, to be cast out of your house, or to be unloved by your family. To those like me who love God but struggle with your sexuality – I feel for you. I am always here to talk to you. You are loved and you are NOT alone.