Being a member of the church is hard enough sometimes, but it’s much harder when you are of a different sexuality. It’s a taboo topic, no one talks about it, and, as a group, many pretend it doesn’t exist.
Guess what? It does.
We could argue all day about what statistics say and how many people out of one congregation should be of a different sexual orientation than straight, but one thing is clear. There are members of the church who are of different sexual identities. We are in every congregation and are affected by what is said around us. Every day we have to fight a battle within ourselves that no one sees.
I realized that I was attracted to women, as well as men, when I was fifteen. I was friends with everyone, and got along really well at school, but for some reason rumors about me always crept up. I had people constantly asking me if I was a lesbian or if I had really kissed this random girl they heard about. I genuinely had no idea what they were talking about and hadn’t even put thought into my sexuality because no one had challenged me on it.
Like many of us have before, I denied it—to myself and to the school—until I met a girl I was actually interested in, and I realized suddenly that everyone had been right about me. My world seemed to collapse inward, and I had no idea what to do or what all of this meant. However, I knew when it all started that this would be a big mess with the church. No matter how anyone looked at it, what I felt was frowned upon, and no one could know.
Let’s call this stage, the mask stage. This is the stage in which we wear a mask for everyone and show them the person they want to see, not who we truly are. I felt constantly worn down by wearing this mask. I wore it with my family, my friends, my teachers—anyone and everyone. I came to realize that I couldn’t do this forever, someone had to know. I had to find someone I could be entirely myself with, who would understand what this meant in every part of my life. Including church.
This person ended up being my father. I know that most of us at some point have told a parent or family member and everything hit the fan. However, my experience with telling my dad was far from one of these experiences. We had been talking about “controversial” subjects, like weed, abortion, and marriage. At some point within the conversation, I began to tear up and wouldn’t look at him. He noticed this, and asked what was upsetting me. He put his arm around me, hugged me tight to his side, and told me that I could tell him anything. It was then that I, through my ugly crying and mini panic attack, told him that I was attracted to women as well as men. He laughed.
Not in the way you’re thinking, though. He pulled me closer to him and said, “Oh sweetheart. I know. You were born that way. If that’s what you need to do to be happy and be the best version of you that you can be, I will fully support you. Do what is right for you.”
This made me question, what was right for me? Was it the church or something else?
The real question was, could I be a part of the church and feel like I was being true to myself?
I began a journey to find out what I was supposed to do. A question that constantly crossed my mind was why God would make me like this if it was going to only cause problems with my life and the church.
After a while, I realized that that was exactly the point. I don’t mean to sound big headed, but I had always had it easy when it came to social interactions. My family was active in the church, and I was a golden child. There had to be a wrench thrown in in order to make me grow and become who I needed to be. I realized that for me, it was absolutely crucial that I was made this way. If I am to stay in the church, I will be an asset to any group I am put in. I more easily understand the misfits and the more inactive people. I understand how to talk to them and make them comfortable. I know what they need to hear, and I know that more than anything, they need me to love them and not judge them. Love can turn everything around.
I know this, because that’s how I am. When I have been inactive, it was always a loving leader or friend who got me to come back around. Loving those around us regardless of what is going on with them is vital, and I understand that. Would I understand that if I didn’t have to go through all of this stuff with being bisexual? Maybe, and then again maybe not. The point is, the Lord knows me and what I need. There is a reason for this and everything else that has gone on in my life.
I could say that this realization made me sure that I wanted to stay in the church, but honestly I haven’t made that decision yet. It’s something that I will struggle with for a long time, but we all do. That’s something that you must know. We are all struggling with something, every single one of us. You are not alone in this, nor will you ever be. The amazing thing is that you have your choice, and you and the Lord knows what is right for you. I struggled for a long time because I was so sure that I was alone— that I was the only one to have doubts.
Truth is, we all have doubts. It is only human nature to question and doubt. You are not the only person asking questions. It may feel like it, I have been there, but everyone questions. Even that girl at church who seems perfect. My Dad always told me that church was like a hospital for our souls. Everyone goes there to get better. Some people are more sick than others, but if you stop going to the hospital, how can you expect to get better? You aren’t there for anyone but yourself. No one else’s opinion matters, you are there to make yourself better. Even if it is just showing God that you are willing to give him some of your time. The time He gave you.
The decision with what to do with your sexuality and the church is a hard one. No one can tell you what is right, that is something you must figure out. Whether this be through writing in a journal, personal prayer, or talking with someone, you can find your answers. Follow what you feel is right in your heart. It is possible to be true to yourself and still be a member. The Lord knows what you are going through and He can strengthen you and guide you, if you ask for His help.
Don’t let the world tell you that you are less than what you are. Your feelings are legitimate, and this all is no accident. You affect everyone around you, and you are important. You’re important in a monumental way you will never be able to comprehend. So love yourself, love your beliefs, and be true to what is right.
We can do this.