Category Archives: Homophobia

Homophobia stems from ignorance, blind tradition, and sometimes, even closeted homosexuality.

Internalized Homophobia and Sense of Self

It’s been awhile, friends… almost two years since I’ve posted on this blog. So many of you have been an emotional support for me over the past several years. I certainly hope this finds you. And if none of you are still out there, I hope someone who needs to hear this will read it.

Disclaimer, here: This is a cathartic post, and it’s full of word vomit. It probably won’t be succinct, and I don’t plan on editing it. Whatever comes out will be published. So, here we go!

Let’s Catch Up!

A few things have happened since we last talked. I write for a living now. It’s copywriting, and it’s not sexy work… but it pays the bills and gives me a way to do all the things I love. I’ve also been seeking the Divine in all things. I’ve explored many paths, and all have blessed me in very different ways. I feel the spirit of Jesus at work in my life like never before. I was accepted to Vanderbilt Divinity School (didn’t end up going for financial reasons, but plan on re-applying once my other loans are paid off next year). By far, the most amazing thing is that I got to marry my best friend. We were married in a private ceremony last December by one of the most loving pastors I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Truly God has blessed me.

How to Heal?

When I stopped posting two years ago, I needed to go into hiding. I was too raw. Too hurt. Too weary. And in a lot of ways, I still am. That’s one reason I’m writing tonight. You see, while talking with my wife (I love being able to call her that) a few weeks back, I realized something that never occurred to me in nearly ten years of coming out:

I struggle terribly with internalized homophobia.

Now, many of you who know me might be thinking, “Um… yeah! Of course you struggle with that. It’s obvious.” But what’s crazy is I never even considered it until I started reading about it. Through the years, there are many things I’ve overcome. For example, I don’t avoid gay people. But I used to. I don’t feel negatively toward those who live out and proud. But I used to. And while I may have moved through many of these “symptoms”, I still desperately struggle with other factors.

I have a deep-seated anxiety about what others will think of me when they find out I’m gay. Just. Absolutely. Debilitating. Yet, I still force myself to be transparent with others, because truly, honest-to-God, deep down, there is not a single fiber of my being that believes it is wrong to be gay. Everything I’ve been through on this journey has pointed me toward this belief. My relationship with God is richer and more profound now than ever before. And as always, it is ever-changing and growing. But… I know there are others that pity me, or are disgusted by me. And that thought is just so depressing. I never considered myself to be suicidal before. But when I had to face rejection from so many of my loved ones, it no longer seemed so far-fetched. It was almost comforting to think of having a way out if things got too bad.

This is why I simply cannot be around people who do not accept LGBTQ individuals. I need more than just tolerance. I need acceptance. I need love. And there are plenty of people out there who do love me just as I am. So why waste one more minute around those who just don’t understand? I suppose a part of me will always mourn those that I have lost because of this. And it seems I will just have to learn to live with that.

Truly, in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t really lost many people… not compared to a lot of folks I know. I guess the pain just comes from feeling that rejection from people you really thought you were close to before. And now, this ONE thing changes all of that. Regarding my wedding last year, I had a longtime friend tell me, “I just don’t think this is God’s plan for you.” I cannot tell you how deeply that hurt. It really upsets me when those who know me minimize my journey: That all the pain and prayer was worthless. That my sleepless nights and pleas with God didn’t mean anything. My spirituality is very important to me… and when people just assume I’m willing to throw that away without concern or thought, it hurts.

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My Sins

Boy, do I have a lot. Gossip. Ungratefulness. Lust. Worry. Hatefulness. The list goes on and on and on and on. But loving another person fully, deeply, profoundly? Yes… I suppose if you see that as a sin, I am guilty. But I will go to my grave loving her. And I make zero apologies about it.

Social Media and “Being Out”

Another huge stressor for me is social media. The friends I’ve made over the past six or seven years all know I’m gay, and are completely fine with it. It’s the people from my past that send me into a panic attack every time I get a friend request. It’s always the constant struggle: Do I hide? Should I be honest? Do I need to edit my profile? It is just exhausting. And I know ALL of that stems from my internalized homophobia.

I really don’t know how to get past this. I’ve come so far, and I just want to lay this to rest once and for all. I am certainly considering going back to therapy. I don’t know what the right answer is, or even if there is one.

Anyone Else?

My main reason for posting this is to reach out. I’m curious to know if any of you struggle with internalized homophobia. If so, how are you working through it? How do you stop caring? How do you allow your sense of self to be enough?

I truly hope all of you are doing well. I think about this community often. And for those of you wondering… believe it or not, I am still planning on finishing the documentary. (Yes, it’s already two years late.) However, I am considering including my own story. This is scary for me to think about, but I think it’s something that needs to be done. I am also working on a memoir about my experiences. Maybe these things will come to fruition sometime within the next decade… haha!

For now, my friends, I wish you well. Have a beautiful, awe-filled Christmas season. And I’ll try my best to not be a stranger anymore. xoxo

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A Backpedaling Apology

In September, I wrote a farewell post. I simply couldn’t take the negativity going on in this culture war. To be honest, I still can’t. Many of you have written me to express your support, your kindness, even your frustrations with me for not continuing this journey of reconciliation. Every single word has been heard, treasured, and put to good use.

After thinking on these things for the past few months, I’ve arrived at a few conclusions:

I stand by my decision to take a break from staunch advocacy. However, I would be remiss if I said my journey had ended. For better or for worse, I still deal constantly with living as a lesbian in the bible belt south. And at the risk of making myself too vulnerable, I feel the need to come clean on a few things.

Before going into that, I must say: I am extremely happy. I love my life. My partner (who I’ve put through a lot, by the way) has helped me realize true love is not a lost cause for this sappy romantic. However, as someone who has experienced social anxiety on some level my entire life, it has become nearly unbearable over the past few years. Self-acceptance was never as much of a problem until I came out.

I worry. Constantly. I can feel the disgust people have for me, even when they don’t say it out loud. It hurts. Like everyone else, I want to be accepted and loved. And to know there are some people who feel they can not be in fellowship with me because of this issue damages me on a cellular level.

I see other LGBT friends living life normally with their partners. They don’t let the naysayers bother them. Truly, they are able to simply brush it off and go on with their happy and healthy lives, without one worry about what people think or say. I envy them. Why is this so difficult for me to do as a grown woman in my thirties?

In addition to everything I just referred to, I feel guilty for mentioning it. I feel as though by giving into these negative thoughts, I’m allowing myself to stay in the role of the victim. And I despise the thought. When I truly give into the negativity surrounding my life as a lesbian: I feel cheated. I feel victimized. I feel hated, loathed, and cynical. I feel talked about. Whispered about. Laughed at. It may not be true for every person in my life, but it’s there. I’ve seen it happen, time and time again: Before someone knows I’m gay, they enjoy my company. They take me seriously. They treat me like a human. After they find out—either by me or the grapevine—they avoid me. They see me as less than. They treat me as the “other”. I don’t want to fall into the trap of over-generalization, but it’s difficult not to when you’ve seen it happen as many times as I have.

So the primary reason I wanted to say farewell to you, my dear friends, is because I don’t have a lot of positivity to give about this subject at the moment. But perhaps there is value in authenticity. Maybe it’s important to come right out and say I’m not in a good place. As it currently stands, I feel like I’m in an incubator, just waiting to emerge a better person. I’m attempting to nurture my soul by immersing myself in hobbies, in spiritual readings, in Christmastime traditions. But despair is still there, underneath. It always is. Maybe with every passing year, it will shrink, growing smaller and smaller, completely enveloped by my joy. Until then, it’s my cross to bear. And as long as I have feelings, I suppose you’ll find me writing about them. For your sake, I wish they were always happy ones. But as long as you’re willing to read them, I’m willing to share them… for better or for worse.

Tales Of A Former Advocate: A Farewell

I began this blog in 2010 to document my own experience as a Christian lesbian who had a heart for loving discussion between the Church and the LGBT community. I felt that fire in my belly to reach out, to live in the tension, to make a difference. Friends, I cannot do it anymore.

I never imagined I would be writing a “farewell” post to a group of people I hold so dearly. But the truth of the matter is I can no longer put myself through this emotional turmoil. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year to legalize same-sex marriage at the federal level, it’s been one letdown after another. My friends, family, long lost relatives, and strangers have come out of the woodwork to exclaim how terrible, sinful, and perverted the LGBT community is: How we are ruining the sanctity of marriage, how we are not worthy of a place at God’s table, how we are the moral decay of the nation. Things have only been made worse by the fact the recent Kim Davis fiasco has been unfolding near my hometown. (I canceled a trip home on Labor Day, because I could not bear the thought of being around that kind of hatefulness.) Some of my own family members are calling this the Christian Holocaust. I cannot even wrap my mind around that kind of ignorance and selfishness. I still can’t understand why someone would think their religious freedom includes taking away the rights of other people. There is immense poverty, sickness, and death that plagues this world on a daily basis… and they are concerned that two people of the same gender getting married will somehow take away their 1st Amendment rights. It’s asinine.

I’ve been told that once people knew I was gay—someone they’ve known their entire lives, someone they love—they would learn to listen to the issues pervading the Church as a whole. Once I came out, this issue would (supposedly) be personal to far more people. Instead, I’ve discovered most people don’t want to hear my story. People see me differently once they know I’m gay. Yes, there are those Christians out there who love me for who I am; and oh my goodness, I am forever indebted to them! But these people who love me just as I am have already fought the good fight. I didn’t need to convince them LGBT individuals were worthy of love, because they already knew it. Friends, there are people out there who were created to be advocates for the LGBT community. But I am simply not one of them. I thought I was strong enough, but I’m not. I’m tired of sobbing. I’m tired of helplessly watching my partner cry over other people’s insensitivity.

I’ve been through hell and back to discover my heartfelt position on the issue of LGBT inclusion in the Church. I cannot spend one more minute giving my time to people who acknowledge the fact I’ve studied and researched this topic, yet still feel it necessary to make an itemized list of why they believe my life is sinful. We may not agree. Fine. But I will no longer accept less than the same respect I give them regarding their deeply held beliefs.

I do not wish to call myself a Christian anymore. I love Jesus and will forever have him written on my heart… but I refuse to outwardly wear the label of a group whose name has become synonymous with hate to far too many people. The term “Christian” wasn’t used until a few decades after Jesus walked the earth, and it’s a word that no longer has positive connotations for me, and for so many others. Ultimately, it is just a label, and I refuse to wear it. I have become a member of the Native American Church—a spiritual group who does not judge me for who I love, a group who encourages each individual to seek out a personal, profound, spiritual path. For me, it is where I choose to continue to live out my faith. For me, it is home.

To hate-spewing Christians, I will say the following: I hope the reconciliation movement continues to grow within the walls of your churches. Christian LGBT advocates are the only hope for the future of your religious institution. I hope you fully understand that because of you, countless LGBT individuals will never, ever know Jesus. But more than that, I hope you have a change of heart before it’s too late. Don’t judge the LGBT community; love on them. Would that really be so bad? And just to be abundantly clear: It’s not Jesus or the loving Christians who led me to abandon the Christian label. It’s you.

For those of you who’ve read my posts over the last five years: Words cannot express my gratitude to you. To have a support group from so many people I’ve never even met in person, it really meant the world to me. I appreciate all of you who shared your stories, who reached out in love, who fought for equality. I am forever indebted to you. Obviously, things are changing in our favor. The past five years have been crucial for the progress of LGBT inclusion. And things will continue to get better from here.

I’ve discovered for me, personally, I have to find ways to live my life without worrying what others think of me. When I separate myself from the kind of negativity that’s been going on lately, life becomes so much richer. This is a necessary season of refining, a necessary season of pruning. Because you and I? We’re on to better things. And a couple generations from now, we’ll be able to tell our grandkids we were on the right side of history… the side of inclusion and love.

Always,
Mandy

So You’re Gay. Why Can’t You Just Shut Up About It?

713307_82954404This was said to me by a former colleague of mine, albeit slightly more politically correct. I think she said something like: “Why do we have to talk about this? Why can’t you just be quiet?” This came at a crucial time in my life; I was at a crossroads. I could either stay in a ministry which did not accept any aspect of my orientation, or I could resign. I could lie, or I could be true to myself. Put that way, the choice seems easy. I should be a hero, right? Live honestly. Sacrifice comfort for truth. But I enjoyed what I did. I loved the ministry. I loved serving in that capacity. So, I learned to compromise. I told half-truths. I lived a double-life. For a time, I shut up about it.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the decision to do so was not in my best interest. It could only last so long: Censoring my personal life; editing pronouns; serving people who I knew would not approve of me (or perhaps not even like me at all) if they knew the truth. For those of us in the LGBT community, these stories are all too familiar. But what saddens me most about situations such as these is not the fact that folks may disagree on LGBT issues, but the fact there is an overall unwillingness for such discussions.

Growing up in a religiously conservative environment, I can recall the fear that surrounded topics such as LGBT issues. It can be an uncomfortable conversation for some folks… and it’s easy to forget that fact once we’ve spent our fair share of time in more progressive circles. But there are a few things I would like to get out into the open. For those folks who wonder why we can’t just shut up about it? Our answer may be a little different than you think.

Most of the LGBT folks I know aren’t interested in running through the streets wearing nothing but a rainbow flag. They don’t want to shout their orientation from the rooftops. They don’t set out to “flaunt” affection in order to make you uncomfortable. They don’t desire to make waves, start arguments, or become poster children for controversy.

Personally, what I want is pretty simple. I want to live in community and fellowship with my brothers and sisters. I want LGBT Christians to be valued for their talents and gifts. I want to serve—to live a life of love and compassion. Most of us long for the day when sexual orientation and gender identity are no longer factors for determining human worth in our religious institutions.

One thing we’ve learned from history: issues don’t disappear when we stop talking about them. And one thing we’ve learned from statistics? Someone you know is LGBT. Yes, even someone in your congregation; and in many cases, it is someone in a leadership role. Instead of pretending people are someone they aren’t, why not seek safe spaces for conversation? Why not tear down those invisible barriers that keep us from true fellowship? It won’t always be easy. It won’t always be pretty. But it is the right thing, plain and simple. Because right now, the message that millions of LGBT Christians are hearing is: “You can continue to serve and use your talents as long as you hide who you are.”

Surely, there has to be a better answer. And that is why I, for one, can no longer shut up about it.

Documentary Promo Video Launched!

After several long weeks, I’ve finally been able to finish the promo video. Now, the real work begins! While I’m itching to get started, I realize the fund-raising process can be a delicate thing, and I want to do it right! Stay tuned for the fund-raising launch, which should be happening in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, send prayers, love, and good vibes this way. Here’s hoping to a successful project that will hopefully help us all to find some common ground.

Check out the project’s website, which will be finished within the week.

The Myth of a Persecuted Christian America

“Persecuted” is a term I hear thrown around a lot these days. Ironically enough, it’s rarely ever used to describe 1st century Christians, who were literally made to hide their faith in order to evade death. Most of the time, it’s a word used by some of our modern Christian brothers and sisters to describe… (wait for it)… themselves. How is it that first class, privileged, Christian Americans feel persecuted in a country that boasts freedom on an individual and religious basis? Furthermore, how could someone feel victimized in a land where they are (quite literally) the majority? Your guess is as good as mine.

We’re all privy to the discrimination laws that have been all over the media in recent weeks, like this one in Arizona:

In short, SB1062 would amend the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, allowing business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers so long as proprietors were acting solely on their religious beliefs. (Eliott C. McLaughlin, cnn.com)

And let’s not pretend homophobia is the only form of discrimination in this country. Racism, classism, and sexism (just to name a few) are still rampant. Just the other day, I saw an extremely troubling post on Facebook which said,

“Why do I have to press 1 for English? Did America move?”

It’s this kind of idiocy and ignorance that makes me wonder if we’ve really come all that far in our fight for equality.

Here are three things I feel are too often forgotten:

1. American History 101: Separation of Church and state. May we be reminded this was (and is) a policy to protect religious institutions. It’s basically saying, “Hey… we know people won’t agree on everything. But we came to America to escape religious oppression, and we believe everybody ought to have the opportunity for their own quest for truth.” It’s a wonderful idea, actually; I wish more people saw the beauty in it. Think about the hundreds and hundreds of sects of Christianity alone: From Catholics to Mennonites, from Presbyterians to Appalachian snake handlers… we are all so very different. Therefore, you can imagine the innumerable advantages of keeping government and religion separate. What if we were all made to conform to the ideologies of a single sect of Christianity—one that didn’t necessarily agree with our convictions? Furthermore, what if the majority of religious Americans were Muslim? Well, I think many fellow Christians would feel quite differently about the separation of Church and state, then.

2. America is not a Christian nation. This statement always seems to raise some eyebrows, but the facts are there. All you have to do is delve in and study the faiths of the Founding Fathers. Many of them were Deists, who believed there probably is a Creator, but that he does not meddle in the concerns of people or intervene in the world’s affairs. Consider Thomas Jefferson. Many Christians today claim him as one of their own, when in fact, he mocked those who believed in the supernatural claims of Jesus. He even published his own version of the New Testament, in which he removed all supernatural events, including the virgin birth and the resurrection! In his day, he was called an atheist by some. How is it that he is now often called a founder of a Christian nation?

1071936_898866613. Freedom begets freedom. Or at least it should. Our Christian ancestors fought so hard to escape religious oppression. But are we honoring that legacy? Now that we have our freedom, are we paying it forward to other minorities, or do we use our power to discriminate against those who are different? I see the latter more often than the former, and I find it quite troubling. But what’s most troubling of all? Quite commonly, the people doing the discriminating are the same ones playing the persecution card, essentially saying: “My religious freedom gives me the entitlement to discriminate against other people. By exercising my right, I’m allowed to take your rights away.” I think we can all see the absurdity in that mentality.

Besides, what was it about that Jesus guy? Did he heal only his fellow Jews? Did he fellowship only with like-minded people? Did he instruct his disciples to be gatekeepers at his sermons, only allowing certain people through? I think any Christian can identify The Greatest Command: Love. It really doesn’t get more simple than that.

So why do we make it so complicated?

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UPDATE on “One Liberation Under God”: I’ve had an overwhelming response to the documentary project. Within 24 hours of posting about it, over a dozen people in five different states have expressed interest in being interviewed.  A project like this will take some time, but I’m very excited about getting things underway! Check my Twitter feed and Facebook page for updates about the film.

My Christian life with AIS – An Intersex condition

We’ve discussed the issues faced by intersexed individuals before on this blog. A reader—and fellow blogger—shared her story in the comment section of a post entitled “The Intersexion of Christianity and Genitalia”. It was too touching to simply leave in the comment section, so I’m re-blogging it here, with her permission. -Mandy