This piece is cross-posted from my old blog from last year, but in posting my previous blog, I think it wise to post my personal journey away from and back to God.  Forgive me if you're a member to both places.

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When I first realized I was gay and had my first crush, Adrienne, I was a little southern Baptist girl living in a small town insulated by the ideas of the church, handed down to me by the imposing hands of my foremothers and forefathers.  Adrienne came to hand me a revision, something that I had to cope with, something that changed my life forever, and something that I’ve forever grappled with.

I’d grown up between the four worlds of my mother and my grandparents, each of whom had starkly different value spectrums.  My mother attended church off and on when it fit the bill, but after falling in love with a woman when I was six never reconciled her faith and her beliefs.  My grandma, the pianist for the First Baptist Church where she lives, is fiercely religious.  My grandpa however was a sci-fi loving, discourse-engaging skeptic.  It’s like living with Cynthia Nixon, Tammy Faye Bakker, and Bill Maher.  My mom was conflicted on being gay and conflicted on religion.  My grandma was convicted—staunchly anti-gay, pro-religion.  My grandpa was anti-religion, anti-government, and anti-labeling.  Rightly I’d be a little confused by the time I’d hit puberty.  And when one party, likely the one with the most sense, my grandpa, passed away when I was 13 I was left with little to no comprehension of how to navigate between the four worlds I was floating in.

My first problem was when I heard a repeated message from both sides: gay kids don’t come from gay mothers.  Assuredly, I was straight and I didn’t have to worry about grappling with my sexuality.  I took on my religion as my main focus, hosting a bible study at school and going to church every Sunday.  It was after a night of reading my bible that Adrienne came to visit.

I spent hours reading my bible and praying after Adrienne left.  I knew every church I’d ever been to had condemned lesbians to hell.  I knew that’s why my mother hadn’t gone to church for years.  I knew Jesus didn’t love gay people.  I knew in my mind that if I chose to listen to my body, I’d be sent to eternal damnation, away from my Father in Heaven, away from my grandpa who’d just passed away.  I quit the bible study.  I read my bible daily, I searched for clues to why I could be a lesbian or how I could be a lesbian and ignore it, or how I could just get rid of it.  I searched for ways to make it go away.  I searched for a religion that could promise I wouldn’t be gay anymore if only I’d follow it to the letter of the law.  I learned a lot about religions.  I went to so many churches that I couldn’t count them on ten hands.  I’ve had hands laid on me, prayed for, anointed, baptized, and condemned.  Nothing made me any less a lesbian.  It wasn’t from a lack of trying.

After accepting that there was nothing I could do and entering a relationship with a girl my senior year of high school, the personal insults began.  Those who had previously loved me to death started threatening me.  I received hateful looks, dirty comments, and condoms on my tailpipe of my car, broken CDs scrawled with nasty words in my driveway at home, and multiple voicemails with condemnation on my box at home.  It was insanity.  These were Christians who professed love.  Were they so “afraid” for my soul or so afraid to be “wrong” that they would resort to threatening me to save me?  Did that ever work?

I grew up and fell in love with the idea that Christianity was a four-letter word. I had become so fed up with the way I had been treated in the past that the future without Christ was a better option.  I attended a reform synagogue for several years, and what I learned there was invaluable.  Tradition, love, and good works are the ties that bind us to each other.  I saw myself not as a Jew, but as a faith seeker.  I found myself furthering my progress toward rectification and healing.

It was Christmas of 2010 that I entered a church of my own volition upon invitation of friends for a candlelight service.  The calm and peace of the familiar hymns and carols echoed back to my soul somewhere down deep to the Tammy Faye Bakker side while the Cynthia Nixon side sat holding the candle still, keeping face.  It wasn’t long before the smudged eyeliner of Tammy Faye could be seen on the outside, running down my face.  Finally, I could feel peace in a church.  Finally, I felt home.

Christ never spoke about hellfire and brimstone for lesbians.  He spoke about acts of loving-kindness and radical love for neighbor and enemy.  He spoke about the evils of being rich and judgmental and the blessings of being merciful and meek.  My God is a loving God, who wouldn’t send His creation away because of the way she was made in His image.  My church is one that understands my need to question faith in order to have faith.  My four-year relationship with my partner is based upon the biblical principles of respect and mutual care.  It enhances my life tremendously.  When I have enough money for a wedding I hope to have a traditional church wedding.

Still, the opposition is out there.  My partner’s brother and his wife are adamantly anti-gay and we worry about every holiday and what her nieces and nephews will call me.  It breaks my heart.  Churches preaching that we are evil, sinful creatures who deserve to rot in hell, that we’re demons, that we’re going to take down America every Sunday across this country when I couldn’t even finish my dinner much less ruin the nation.  We’re all afraid of what we don’t know and what we don’t understand; we’re all also afraid to be wrong.  America is such a culture of being right.  But can we really afford to be right all of the time?

I’ve only met a few Christian lesbians, but we’re out there.  Don’t assume lesbians are all godless heathens.  We all have a lot to learn from each other if we dialog and get over those assumptions.  And if there was nothing else I learned from spending years as a non-Christian, I learned a few things from Rabbi Hillel, standing on one foot, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do unto your fellow man.  That is the whole Torah; the rest is just commentary.  Go and study it.”  And if you’re not ready yet to accept the words of others, listen to Jesus, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”  All of your neighbors—gay neighbors count!

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Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on January 10, 2013 at 3:34pm

Christian lesbian?  Sure why not!

I mean, after all, there were black Africans that were supportive of the slave trade, Jews who worked diligently for the Nazis and even today there are women who work towards the oppression of other women.  Why shouldn't there be christian lesbians?

Not sure about being proud of being affiliated with the likes of Bryan Fisher, Maggie Gallagher and the Pope though (all REAL good xians!), but to each there own. (just don't expect the other 99.99999% of the LGBTQ community to hold you in anything but disdain).

Comment by Constant Calliope on January 10, 2013 at 3:55pm

Mr. Futurist:  Thank you, we appreciate it.

Safe Bet's Amy:  You know, I even talked about this in my previous blog, which you might enjoy reading.  http://oursalon.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-word-perfection  I've often caught flack for being a Christian and a lesbian, but the two aren't mutually exclusive because I do not adhere to what you might perceive as "the only" Christianity.  I don't like Maggie Gallagher's opinions about our community any more than you do, but I love her as a human being.  I am not proud, as pride leads to many terrible ends.  I only say what I say to let others know that it is not okay to hold us in contempt for being who we are, as you apparently do, or that it is wrong or uncharacteristic.  Like it or not, we exist.  And not all lesbians are going to be atheists, agnostic, wiccans, pagans, etc.  We'll be as diversely religious as the rest of the population.  And by the way, I'm not sure most baptists, pentecostals, apostolics, or latter-day saints would like to be affiliated with the Pope, either... and a fair amount of them aren't gay.  :)

Comment by Mimetalker on January 10, 2013 at 4:01pm

I remember this from Open Salon...if I remember right, it was on the cover. I like your comment too.

Comment by alsoknownas on January 10, 2013 at 4:10pm

Well stated and remarkably calm and mature response to the venom.

Comment by Constant Calliope on January 10, 2013 at 4:26pm

Mimetalker:  Thanks!  That's been so long ago now... my coming out and going away present to Open Salon, I guess!  haha

alsoknownas:  Thank you.  After the first run of this piece and the years of fun from everyone telling me off (both Christians and now non-Christians), I think I've almost developed the perfect anti-venom.  It still needs fine tuning, but when discourse has run its mill I'll be prepared for anything and can equip anyone for battle.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on January 10, 2013 at 4:43pm

"I've often caught flack for being a Christian and a lesbian, but the two aren't mutually exclusive..."

Never said that they had to be...   just as it wasn't mutually exclusive for certain  black to be involved in the slave trade or certain Jews from being Nazi sympathizers.  

You are, after all, entitled to your opinions and your religious believes, no matter how self-hate filled they might be.  Knock yourself out, hon.  Just don't expect most of us to respect it.

I do take exception, however, when you stated that being a xian lesbian isn't "uncharacteristic".    I have been an out lesbian for more than a couple of decades now and the number of "lesbian xians" I know of can be counted on one hand.  I have met and know literally thousands of our sisters and what you are implying just ain't so.  Sorry.

I do find it humorous how you "us" and "we" though.  It makes it sound like there are more than a hand full of you misguided folks.

P.S.  I do find it cute however, how you are so "prideful" of not being "prideful".  That is so xian of you.

Comment by JMac1949 Memories on January 10, 2013 at 5:17pm

Even if other folks give you a hard time there's nothing wrong with being a Christian or gay, or both.  If you're doing the best you can with what you know and not hurting or trying to put anyone else down... you're more than halfway there.  "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 10, 2013 at 5:19pm

I recall this too and it reads even better the 2nd time.

@ Amy...I'd be interested in any Jewish "Nazi-sympathizers" you've read about.  (Or was that just a rhetorical flourish?)

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on January 10, 2013 at 5:33pm

Really, Jonathan?  I hope you aren't actually QUESTIONING something about the Holocaust!  If so, you obviously are a Holocaust denier!  (Gasp!)

Oh, what the hell, here ya go, dude.  Enjoy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_Ghetto_Police

Comment by Jonathan Wolfman on January 10, 2013 at 5:41pm

Amy   My God. You're priceless:  you genuinely do not understand at all what happened in the ghettos or in the death camps. You must also imagine that the Jews at Bergen-Belsen told to shovel up the ashes and other mass-murder-related tasks "sympathized" with Nazism and/or the S.S. That you think that link suggests anything close to free-will sympathizing is as bizarre as anything I have read in a blog comment thread.

And I do think someone can understand and believe in Christian theology and be a lesbian and, at  the same time find most, if not all, religious institutions rather awful and/all inane.

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