Tag Archives: gay christian

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.

KickStarter Launch Off To An Amazing Start!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Thank you guys so much for being so supportive of the new documentary project. Please take a moment to read the first update!

One Liberation Under God

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 7.59.53 AMHi, everyone! After months of contemplation, we finally launched the KickStarter page for the project on Tuesday. It had reached a point where I had to stop worrying about number crunching and statistics, and just actually do it! So far, you guys have exceeded my expectations. In less than three days, we reached half of our first goal of $400!

By now, you probably know how the project will work. But you may be wondering how this fundraising thing works. In order to explain why we set such a low goal, I’ll include an excerpt from the project page:

Nashville is my current city, and northeastern KY is my hometown. Therefore, no extra funds are necessary to cover those interviews. Destinations closest to me will take top priority, so we can make the most out of the time and money we have. So why did we only set a $400 goal? 

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Irks and Perks of 2013

Hello, friends! I’m b-a-a-a-c-k… and I’m so ready to catch up with all of you. I’ve spent the better part of 2013 on a sabbatical from blogging—partially because I had a couple other projects to work on, and partially because it was a tough year for me, personally. I’ve taken some time off to reflect, heal, and re-center. And now, I feel the fire of advocacy burning once again. I’d like to thank each of you who reached out to me during the past several months—to pray for me, spend time with me, or simply check in with me. You know who you are, and words cannot express how deeply I appreciate it.

I have a handful of projects lined up that I’d like to try for the new year… one of which is a podcast. It will not be replacing this blog, but simply supplementing it. (After all, I’ve got a swell new mic that I’m dying to try out.) If all goes well, a podcast would have great potential to help build relationships between those of us in the religious LGBTQI community. Time will tell, but I’m excited about the prospect! Podcasts will be announced on the Facebook page, Twitter feed, and on this blog.

It’s been awhile since I’ve set foot in the blogosphere, I’ve got a (not-so) straight and to-the-point post for you today. I apologize if I come across as being a bit cantankerous, but I’ve got eight months’ worth of opinions to give. I’ve devised all of them into two lists: “irks” and “perks”. Shall we begin with the top three “irks”?

3) The Duck Dynasty Fiasco: That’s right. I shudder as I type it, but it has to be addressed. Why? Because a particular bearded ninny is apparently what every social network on the planet deemed most important this holiday season. My take? Of course Phil Robertson is homophobic and (more surprisingly, in my opinion) racist; Is this really news? Are we shocked that a conservative, fundamentalist Christian from the bayou has nothing but derogatory idiocies to spout regarding sexual and racial minorities? Yes, Phil Robertson irks me. But what irks me even more is the way that people discuss these issues on social networks. Don’t get me wrong; These unfortunate incidents provide ways for us—as queer folks and as Christians—to address the misfortune of ignorance and discrimination in our society. However, whenever these things inevitably arise, the worst seems to come out in everyone. Otherwise rational and intelligent people (on both sides of the debate) suddenly sprout horns and start foaming at the mouth.

2) Fundamentalist Christians With Double Standards: I can’t even count how many times I’ve seen this. Church leaders and congregants—who are vocally opposed to LGBT equality—don’t seem to mind if gay or lesbian brothers and sisters lead worship, preach, or give of their time and talents in ministries. That is—of course—as long as they simply shut up and stay quiet about who they really are. The gay musician can provide hours and hours of hard work and service—and the congregation raises hands and worships with them all the same. That is, until that same gay musician comes out; All bets are off, then. That God-given gift they have? It’s rubbish now. What about the lesbian who has quietly led the homeless ministry for a decade? Her brothers and sisters pat her on the back, give her thankful accolades… until she brings her partner to church. When the churchgoers find out they’re more than “just friends”, they are both dismissed from the congregation. Apparently her contributions no longer count for the Kingdom.

3) Gay Christians With Double Standards: I’m talking about those who are “homophobic homosexuals”. We’ve addressed this species of queer-dom a few times previously on this blog. Let me set the record straight. (No pun intended.) If someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, it is their choice—and their choice alone—when, and if, they ever come out publicly. We’ve all been there at one time or another, and some of us are still there. However, if you are “different”, “struggle” with SSA (same-sex attraction), could never consider being in love or marrying someone of the opposite sex—however you choose to see it through your own eyes—please do not slander your LGBTQI brothers and sisters who have chosen to be out in their community. Being in the closet is one thing; Slandering your own is quite another. Why not simply be silent… Or at least don’t pretend that you’ve never dealt with these issues. When Facebook or Twitter is “a flitter” with LGBT controversy, why do you feel the need to add homophobic rants to the comment section? *It was this side of a decade ago that you had your tongue down my throat. You may have convinced a few people, but you will never convince me. (*This is, of course, a hypothetical statement. I mean, I don’t know anyone who would actually do that… [cough, cough, wink, wink].)

Alright, that sums it up for the “irks”. But let’s end on a positive note, shall we? How about the “perks”?

3) 2013 was an incredible year for marriage equality. As of today, eighteen states in America have now legalized same-sex marriage. While fundamentalists may see that as a “sign of end times”, most of us can understand Americans are finally realizing that, no matter what you believe or who you love, all of us deserve the same rights. A decade ago, I never would have imagined that we would see full marriage equality in my lifetime. Now, we are well on our way. And that is great news!

2) LGBT issues are being talked about more openly in religious institutions. Finally! As we all know, education is the cure for ignorance. When a topic is ignored, it is seen as taboo. More and more churches across the nation are taking the first step: communication and discussion. When conservative Christians begin to realize that LGBT issues hit closer to home than they thought—when they discover they have a lesbian niece, a gay uncle, or a transgender neighbor—there’s a heart-change. People are finally starting to realize that we don’t all have to agree on this topic to love one another. We simply have to respect one another, and understand that there are multiple valid ways to interpret scripture.

1) Sometimes people surprise you (in a good way). We’ve all experienced it: You come out to someone who you think will be completely accepting, and to your surprise, they aren’t. However, I’ve also been fortunate enough to experience the exact opposite over the past year. As we know, coming out is a process. I’ve encountered conversations with loved ones that turned out even better than I could have ever hoped. For example, my dad told me that he loves me more now than he ever has—that he can’t imagine me any other way. One of my favorite school teachers—just about the most amazing (and conservative) woman I’ve ever met—told me that she believes people are born gay. She may have different opinions about what my life should look like as a lesbian, but she loves me just the same. More importantly, she listens to me, and truly hears me. Thank goodness for people like that—who love us because of who we are, regardless of differences.

May the new year bring about hope, love, and healing for us all.

What are some of your “irks and perks” of 2013?

New Podcast: yay or nay?

I’m all about trying new things. About six months ago, I added a forum to the website. While a few people engaged in some thought-provoking conversation, most discussion was limited to the comment sections of the blog. So, I decided to abandon the forum and keep our dialogue a bit more streamlined. Today, I present you readers with another idea:

 

If you want it, we’ll do it. If you don’t, we won’t. Let me know your honest opinions, and feel free to elaborate on your choice in the comment section!

Have a beautiful weekend… and stay cool!

Happy Pride Month!

It’s June—and that means dragging lots of things out of the closet: shorts, flip-flops, tank tops, and the gays! That’s right… June is national LGBTQI Pride month; and despite the stereotypes you may have heard, Pride is much more than drag queens, guy-liner, and Birkenstock-wearing lesbians. I’m no gay pride pro, but in the few times I’ve attended a festival, I discovered something completely unexpected: lots and lots of gay Christians.

You’ve seen it before in movies or television… the trite depiction of a gay pride festival generally includes completely naked men and women parading in the streets. Oftentimes, there is mention of public sex, orgies, and gays gone wild. Now granted, Pride Fest in the Bible Belt may be distinctively different than San Fran… but I’ve never witnessed anything of the sort. In fact, I met some of the most Godly people I know at Pride. During a time when I was very distraught over my plight as a lesbian (who happened to be madly in love with God), I met people who encouraged me, prayed with me, listened to me, and loved me. I began to discover that God’s family reached far beyond what I had imagined, with borders far wider than I thought possible.

Chances are, your city has countless events going on during the month of June, such as church functions, film screenings, discussion panels, festivals, concerts, etc. If you decide to attend a Pride Fest, I guarantee there will be many churches and congregations there, ready and willing to love on you. I urge you to look into your city’s schedule this month, and start putting some things on your calendar.

Have fun, tell your story, and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Stuck: Guest Blog Series

Here is another incredible post by Josha, who reminds us here that God is always in control. If you haven’t checked out Josha’s testimony yet, click here!

Thanks so much for sharing your heart, Josha.

-Mandy

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Do you feel stuck?

“A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. 

He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’

They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’”   Mark 4:37-41 (NIV)

This story was discussed in the Bible class I attended last Sunday morning. The facilitator of the class asked if any of us had an example or story from our own life that relates.

I shared about the time I got stuck in an elevator in a foreign country. It was an old elevator with a very specific capacity of weight that it could handle. As the last two people literally shoved their way on with their luggage and as the doors barely came together, I had a bad feeling about the next few seconds. Indeed, it was just a few seconds after our descent began, and there were some unusual movements and sounds of the elevator before it became officially stuck

….and then the lights went out.

Every piece of my body was pressed against a different person. I could not even see a shape or outline of anything. Complete darkness. We all patiently waited in silence with the hope of the doors opening.

But nothing.

Finally, a woman found the panic button and intercom and shouted, “We need help, we are stuck!” And the voice that returned said something, but it was not in English.  We continued to wait and as we heard another voice say the familiar word, “Hello,” we felt a moment of hope. But then the next words that followed dashed our hope again, “Looking for the key.”

“What?!! They can’t find the key?” someone yelled out.

Panic started to set in. I could hear one fearful person crying. The air was starting to thicken and it became harder to breath. A man managed to get a little girl up high enough to knock a paneling out for air flow, as the paneling dropped on someone’s head the voice came back just to say, “Looking for the key, looking for the key!” Despite the little airflow that came in from top, panic continued to fill the tiny little room. I stood there in the dark with my parents apart from me. I was alone. I was scared. I was uncertain. I was frustrated. I stood there in the dark and within myself, all I could say was, “Lord please help. Lord please help. It feels like the life is being sucked out of me. Where are you? Please help. Don’t you care?” I felt a peace come over me. I had resolved that we truly were in the Lord’s hands.

It was approximately a 20-minute ordeal, but finally, there was a crack of light between the two sliding elevator doors. We could hear people and see people prying open the two doors. Soon, we were able to step up and out of the elevator where it was jammed 3 feet bellow it’s original destination. As I exited the trauma, there was my mom and dad, patiently waiting and wondering if I was one of the people on the stuck elevator. There faces were never so beautiful to me. Despite my calm inter-self, my hands were trembling. Mom and Dad brought me to the dinning area and gave me a glass of O.J. and listened to my story of what had happened on the other side of the doors were they were standing so patiently.

This story relates to the story of Jesus calming the storm in that the disciples were in a little fishing boat, in the midst of big waves and a furious storm. They felt stuck and were panicked for their lives as Jesus was sleeping and appearing to be unconcerned.

Jesus was setting an example of faith in God by sleeping for he knew the plan of God and he knew that God would be protecting them for his good purpose. Even though the disciples had enough faith to follow Jesus, they still panicked with a belief that their life was about to end.

As Jesus woke up he expressed to the disciples that they did not need to be afraid. God would have seen them through the storm, however, he then commanded that the storm cease, despite their lack of faith. And the disciples stood in awe, trembling, and realized that God really was in their midst.

I shared the elevator story with the class, but I really wanted to tell a different story. But the story I wanted to share is not safe to share in Sunday morning Bible class at this time in my life, so I will share it here:

The story of my “coming out” is much like the elevator story and relates to Mark 4:37-41. At times I felt alone. In the dark. Apart from my parents. I was scared. I was uncertain. I was frustrated. I stood there in the dark and all I could say was, “Lord please help. Lord please help. It feels like the life is being sucked out of me. Where are you? Please help. Don’t you care?”

My journey has been filled with ups and downs of doubt and faith, and I am now questioning once again, “Who is this? Who is Jesus? He has calmed this storm.” You would think I would know by now how powerful Jesus can work, but perhaps that is the beauty of God and his mysteries. He keeps amazing us with what he can do in our lives despite our doubt and despite our panic and we find ourselves trembling as we stand in awe, over and over again just as his disciples who witnessed him with their own eyes.

My parents listened to my story of what happened on the other side of the elevator doors that stood between us, and they have been listened to me tell my story of “coming out.”

How have you felt stuck?

Are people crying out to you “Looking for the key!” leaving you with no hope?

Who is waiting on the other side of the “elevator door” to listen to your story?

What will it take for the “doors” to open?

I will be prayerful for you as you are preparing and waiting for the “elevator doors” to open.  I’m confident that the Lord is with you even though it does not feel like it. I pray that the power of Christ releases you from your stuck position and may you have more faith than before as you stand in awe of the presence of God.

The following song is a prayer that I have found encouragement from during my journey.

Take courage my soul, 

And let us journey on.

Though the night is dark,

And I am far from home. 

But thanks be to God, 

The morning light appears.

The storm is passing over, 

The storm is passing over, 

The storm is passing over,

Alleluia

(Original lyrics by Charles A Tindley)

The Art of Coming Out

I’ve talked about coming out as a long process before, and I’m continually reminded of how true that is. It’s been a year and a month since I came out to my dad; a conversation that was ideal in every way. I explained to him that my sexual orientation was the primary reason that I’d been going through therapy for the past couple of months. The first sentence out of his mouth? “You know I still love you.” Those were the only words I needed to hear in order for the several-ton-weight to be lifted off of my shoulders. I began to sob. For the next two hours, we sat and talked about everything from how long I’d known to God’s hand in all of it. I remember him saying that he was curious to know why I had stopped dating back in college. It turns out—as many LGBT’s discover—that my dad had his suspicions all along.

My dad has remained loving and accepting of me, although he is still on his journey. He believes that people are born with their respective sexual orientation, but he’s just not exactly how my lesbianism fits into my spirituality. I remember the phone conversation when I told him that I was going to have a magazine article published about reconciling faith and sexuality. His response resembled nothing of my excitement. The line went silent. “Oh”, he said. I asked him why he was upset about it. “I’m not upset, I just don’t want this to turn into a bad thing for you.” I explained that this path is exactly where God was leading me. I assured him that no one was surprised as I was that discussing my sexuality more publicly was something I had to do. It was becoming a fire inside of me.

A few weeks later, I noticed that my dad had shared an article on Facebook that he had apparently read on my wall. It was about Christians who don’t walk the walk when it comes to loving homosexuals; it was a wonderful, provocative piece. I was absolutely thrilled to see that my dad had re-posted it. I texted him right away to thank him for it.

To my dismay, it turns out he had posted it by mistake.

“Mandy, can you help me delete that from my wall? I don’t want it on there.”

My heart dropped into my stomach. “But I thought you meant to post that, dad. It really meant a lot to me”, I said.

“No. I did that by mistake. Please help me remove it.”

Reluctantly, I called my dad, and walked him through the steps of removing the article from his Facebook wall. I fought back the tears as we hung up.

A few minutes later, I texted him one last time: “I just want you to be proud of me, dad”.

No response.

My heart broke.

I still think the world of my dad. My journey looks different than his. After all, I’ve known I was gay for 18 years; he’s only known for 13 months. I’ve had reasons to broaden my Scriptural horizons on the topic of homosexuality; he’s never had a reason to.

I cry as I write this. I hurt for those who are never quite understood by the ones who mean the most. Yet I want to offer a word of encouragement. Living out your sexuality—no matter how to choose to do so—is a sacred journey. It is also a journey for those we love. We must be patient with them. We must acknowledge that there are people who will not be in the same place we are. We are all constantly growing, constantly changing, constantly evolving in thought and philosophy. We must also realize that none of us have it exactly right. It’s a humbling thought. We have to become preoccupied with loving each other, instead of becoming preoccupied with being right.

Seek God. Seek truth. Seek love.

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If you are waiting on a sticker, please know that I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m mailing them out in small stacks, so it may take a few weeks before they arrive. Thanks again for all of the stories, testimonies, and responses! xo