Tag Archives: homophobia

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.

Release Hurt. Embrace Healing.

releaseWriting is an act of healing for me. Releasing my deepest inner ramblings into the universe feels cleansing. As I grow older, I try to make it a regular practice. The longer I’ve done this, the more I realize that this catharsis actually helps me to embrace forgiveness. By organizing my thoughts, my hurts, my emotions, I can experience them fully, process them, and begin healing.

For those of us who are LGBTQI Christians, there are certain hurts that can cut deep. When people in our lives cease to understand us, support us, or even love us… we can’t help but take it personally. We take it to heart because their rejection attacks a fundamental part of who we are.

So, why not try this out here and now? I’m going to recount one of the first times that homophobia cut deep… a time where words hurt. And in the comment section, you can do the same if you like.


A couple of years before I came out, I was at my old university for a music performance. This particular show is a tradition at my alma mater… it’s directed, written, and performed solely by the students. Every year, at the end of every performance, they have the audience stand up, join hands, and sing a hymn. It’s always the same one. (We are all about tradition.) This particular year, they had a young gentleman come forward to lead the hymn. My friend sitting next to me—who had been a long-time family friend—leaned over and whispered in my ear: “Isn’t singing this song against his religion?”

Confused, I asked her to repeat herself.

“You know, he’s gay. Isn’t singing a church song against his religion?” She chuckled as she said it.

“Oh,” I said. I might have given a half-smile or an empty laugh. I honestly don’t remember. What I do remember is that my hands began to sweat, I felt lightheaded, and my heart sank. My throat tightened and my eyes welled. I managed to choke back the tears, but the emotional scars of those few words stayed with me for years.

She had no idea that the person sitting right next to her was a lesbian. We had spent years singing side by side in our ministry… but if she knew I was gay, it would somehow change things for her. Those few words spoke volumes to me. What I heard was that my songs of praise were worthless. They were meaningless. That they could only be pure and right and true if a straight person were singing them. Had she known back then that I was gay, she wouldn’t have said it. But she spoke her true feelings that night, and they’ve haunted me ever since.

What she expressed in those few words that evening is a product of fear and ill-education. She’s never been told that gay people love God, too. She’s bought into the rhetoric that is preached—and sometimes screamed—from certain pulpits every Sunday. And if I can’t find a way to have that conversation with her, then I can only pray that one day, someone else does. For everything that loving discussion can’t heal, time itself will. With the passing of each year and each decade, there will come a day when the exclusion of LGBT’s is a thing of the past. Our future generations will look back on it as a shameful memory, and wonder what made their ancestors so unloving, barbaric, and exclusive. And all of us who are considered “too progressive”, “too open-minded”, or “too liberal” will have ended up on the right side of history. Until that day, we will be prepared to endure ridicule, to be misunderstood, to experience way too much “conditional love”. But we must also be courageous. We must tell our stories. We must engage in loving dialogue…. because our day is coming!

There is strength in numbers, and there is power in telling our stories. Have you been hurt by someone because of your sexual orientation? Have you been bullied, made fun of, or rejected? Release it. Let it go. And let the healing begin.

Please feel free to share your story below, or on the submission page.

The Church and the LGBT Community: Why Some People are Afraid of Dialogue

There is a movement happening in our country right now. More and more congregations are becoming open to positive discussion about LGBT issues. Many are changing and updating their statements of faith to include and affirm LGBT individuals as part of their faith community. I’ve been blessed to be able to visit many of these congregations in the Nashville area. There is something quite sacred to me about seeing people of all races, social classes, and orientations joining together in worship. The first time I visited a predominantly gay congregation, I found myself wishing that the rest of my Christian friends could witness what I saw: loving, genuine, talented, compassionate, and humble individuals singing their hearts out to our Creator. And guess what? There was no lightning bolt, no wrath, no judgment; but there was the Spirit of God. That same, unmistakable Spirit that I’d witnessed countless times in “straight” congregations before. I closed my eyes and I could not fight the tears. I had never felt such a profound sense of acceptance as I did that day.

But what about the other congregations? What about the ones who not only refuse to engage in dialogue with the LGBT community, but actively discriminate against them? These churches may not be up to par with Westboro Baptist in terms of bigotry, but make no mistake… the hurt, pain, and rejection they leave in their wake is no less significant. Throughout my life, I’ve been on both sides of this debate. Let’s look at some of the core reasons why I believe certain congregations are so adamantly opposed to the acceptance of the LGBT community.  This assessment is by no means complete (and please feel free to add your own in the comment section), but here is a list of concerns that I’ve witnessed in my own life as part of an ultra-conservative congregation:

The “Slippery Slope” Mentality. Many Christians believe that if they become accepting of LGBT’s, then they are somehow condoning promiscuity, polygamy, sexual addiction, and the like. This is fueled by fear, and it will not change until ignorance is overcome with education. Sure, some gay people are promiscuous; so are some straight people! Sexual orientation does not make a person sick, perverted, or addicted. And for pete’s sake, gay people are not synonymous with pedophiles. (But that’s another blog topic.)

”Our congregation isn’t ready for dialogue on this topic.” To be sensitive, this may be true in certain regions with certain demographics. After all, if people are still hung up on racial prejudice and discrimination, how in the world do we expect them to address the issue of homosexuality and the Church?! (Probably yet another blog topic…). However, if the Church desires to stay up to date with current issues (and they must, or else they’ll die), then they have to address this topic. Pretending like it does not exist is damaging. Silence does nothing but perpetuate ignorance.

”This issue doesn’t affect anyone in our congregation.” I can guarantee this is not true. Even on the minuscule chance that not one single person in the congregation is gay, they know someone who is. And if they think they don’t, they’re wrong. It’s a matter of sheer probability. Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you think you don’t know anyone who is gay, it’s just because they don’t feel safe enough to tell you.

”This country was founded on Christian principles. That’s why we need to fight against same-sex marriage in America.” Wrong. This country was founded on the belief that everyone should have religious freedom. Whether that religion be Christian, Buddhism, Sikh, Islam, Hindu, Wicca, Paganism, Shinto, atheism, agnosticism, etc… this country is supposed to be a place where each prospective religion (or lack thereof) can be observed without prejudice. The only exception is if you are harming others by practicing that religion. This is why separation of church and state is so vital; its goal is to protect religious institutions—not to stifle them. Additionally, let’s not forget that if we really want to get “back to our roots”, then we have to go way back. As we learned in this post, the indigenous people of our country were performing same-sex unions before we ever set foot on this soil. But just hypothetically, let’s say that this country was founded solely on Christianity. Then which Christians are right? Which do we follow? Is it the Southern Baptists? The Puritans? The Appalachian Snake-Handlers? Or any one of these common American denominations:

African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, American Baptist Association, American Baptist Churches USA, Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America, Armenian Apostolic Church, Assemblies of God, Baptist Bible Fellowship International, Baptist General Conference, Baptist Missionary Association of America, The Christian and Missionary Alliance, Christian Brethren (Plymouth Brethren), Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian churches and churches of Christ, Christian Congregation, Inc., The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Christian Reformed Church in North America, Church of God in Christ, Church of God of Prophecy, Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Church of the Brethren, Church of the Nazarene, Churches of Christ, Conservative Baptist Association of America, Community of Christ, Coptic Orthodox Church, Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Covenant Church, The Evangelical Free Church of America, TheEvangelical Lutheran Church in America, Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Free Methodist Church of North America, Full Gospel Fellowship, General Association of General Baptists, General Association of Regular Baptist Churches, U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches, Grace Gospel Fellowship, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Independent Fundamental Churches of America, International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, International Council of Community Churches, International Pentecostal Holiness Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, The Mennonite Church USA, National Association of Congregational Christian Churches, National Association of Free Will Baptists, National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, Old Order Amish Church, Orthodox Church in America, Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc.Pentecostal Church of God, Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., Reformed Church in America, Religious Society of Friends (Conservative), Roman Catholic Church, Romanian Orthodox Episcopate, The Salvation Army, Serbian Orthodox Church, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Southern Baptist Convention, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Wesleyan Church, Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It isn’t difficult to see how governing a country by one religious group’s standards may not be a true democracy. And I, for one, don’t want my government to have a say-so concerning my religious practices. That’s something that is extremely personal, and it should be decided on a personal level.

These are just a few of the reasons that I believe some Christian denominations are still unwilling to have discussions about LGBT issues. But just like the women’s rights and civil rights movements of our nation’s past, inclusion of the LGBT community is inevitable. To quote Corny Collins from Hairspray:

“Isn’t this where it’s all heading anyway? Now you can fight it, or you can rock out to it!”

I tend to agree. Wouldn’t it be nice to be on the right side of history?

Straight Conservative Christian Goes “Undercover Gay” for One Year

It’s 3:something AM, and I was awoken by a thunderstorm. Generally speaking, I can sleep through anything, but on the rare occasions I don’t, I browse online news sites and read articles to lull myself back to sleep. This morning, I happened upon a story that I couldn’t wait to share with you guys. What if we could literally put ourselves in someone else’s shoes for awhile… in a very real way? Timothy Kurek is a straight Christian who went undercover as a gay man for an entire year! I have so many things to say about this awesome guy. But first, read the story. (I’m sure you don’t want to hear the ramblings of my sleep-deprived mind at the moment.) 


Timothy Kurek Writes ‘Cross in the Closet’ About Coming Out by Susan Donaldson James (source: ABC News)

In his Nashville Christian church, Timothy Kurek was taught the lesson of God’s wrath in the Biblical story of “Sodom and Gomorrah,” and he believed that homosexuality was a sin.

“You learned to be very afraid of God,” said Kurek. According to the preachings of his church, “The loving thing to do is to tell my friend who is gay, ‘Hey, listen, you are an abomination and you need to repent to go to heaven.’ I absolutely believed in that lock, stock and barrel.”

So devout was Kurek as a teen that friends’ parents would often call him to set their kids straight if they misbehaved or broke what they believed to be God’s law.

“I would be the one on the phone until four in the morning, asking them to repent for their sins,” he said.

But about four years ago, when a lesbian he knew from karaoke night confided to him that her parents had disowned her when she came out, Kurek felt that he failed her.

“I feel God really kicked me in the gut,” he said. “She was crying in my arms and instead of being there for her, I was thinking about all the arguments to convert her.”

Kurek’s reaction ate away at him, and he wondered what it felt like to be gay and so alone. So even though Kurek identifies as straight, he embarked on what one religious writer called “spiritual espionage.” He would live like a gay man for a year.

“It finally clicked,” he said. “I needed to empathize and understand.”

Now 26 and no longer homophobic, Kurek writes about his journey — one that included hanging out in gay bars and facing the disappointment of his family and rejection of his friends — in his memoir, “The Cross in the Closet.”

He chose today, National Coming Out Day and LGBT National History Month, to launch book sales and has pledged to give some of the proceeds to a charity that helps LGBT youth who are homeless.

He says he hopes to change minds, not just in the Christian community but in the LGBT one as well, and to bridge the divide in the debate over gay rights.

Some experts say his attitude reflects those of other young Christians.

Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York City psychiatrist who has an expertise in LGBT issues, says the younger generation is less anti-gay than some of their elders.

“The question of ‘love the sinner and hate the sin,’ is an idea they are being forced to question,” he said. “Some of the sound bites [on homosexuality] are not working so well for the younger generation. Condemnation has a human cost.”

Kurek had been homeschooled by parents who never taught him to shun or hate gay people and who admitted they had wrestled with the church’s teaching on homosexuality.

He said he had always wanted to write a book, but never finished his studies at the Christian Liberty College in Lynchburg, Va. But Kurek had kept a daily journal for months, and it was “beginning to read like a book.” By 2009, the idea to go undercover, as a way of documenting and learning about homophobia, was born. For six months he plotted and planned. “I had to make sure the timing was right,” he said.

But one day, sitting in a café in a part of Nashville where the gay bars and Christian hang-outs intersect, Kurek had his first confrontation. While reading a gay-themed book, he became aware of the “snickers and sneers.”

“A guy came up to me when he saw the cover and said, ‘You know that is fundamentally false — you can’t be gay and Christian,'” said Kurek, who responded, “I am gay and I love God.”

The project to become gay had begun for real.

Only three people knew the truth, and he needed them to carry out his audacious project: his closest friend, an aunt and Shawn, a gay friend whom Kurek also met at karaoke night.

“My aunt is my mom’s best friend and is more liberal in her faith,” Kurek said. “She was also able to listen to what my family was saying behind my back … If my mom went off the deep end, I needed to know.”

After a week, he realized he also needed help warding off the advances of gay men.

Kind-hearted Shawn, whom Kurek described as “a big black burly teddy bear,” became his “pretend boyfriend.”

“I needed protection to keep me balanced and teach me the nuances of gay culture and how they flirt, and to give me an excuse when guys hit on me,” said Kurek.

For credibility, Kurek learned to hold hands and embrace.

But most of all, Shawn was the “first gay person that I let into my heart,” said Kurek. “He was totally there for me through emotional turmoil … I trusted him.

“He knew I was straight and he didn’t take it too far — and he taught me not to be afraid.”

Eventually the initial “revulsion” disappeared, according to Kurek. “Early on if a guy pinched my ass, I would have punched someone in the face.”

The hardest part was facing his parents, who were divorced.

“There was always an elephant in the room,” he said. “I snooped in my mother’s journal one day after I had come out and she’d written, ‘I’d rather have found out from a doctor that I had terminal cancer than have a gay son.'”

With his friends, “the thing that struck me most was the isolation,” he said. “Before I came out as gay, I had a very busy social life. After I came out, I didn’t hear from 95 percent of my friends.”

In his book, Kurek stays away from theology. “I want this seen as a people issue,” he said. “When we are shunning people, we are shunning Fred and John and Liz and Mary. These are human people.”

“In the end it was a book about prejudice, not a book about being gay.”

The response to his experience has been positive, according to Kurek. His mother is now supportive of LGBT rights.

Rev. Connie Waters, a protestant minister and LGBT ally from Memphis who met Kurek online when he was questioning his church’s view of homosexuality, said she was “proud” of him.

She never encourages her parishioners to lie, but in the case of Kurek’s undercover project, it served a “greater purpose.”

“For him to appreciate what others went through was essential for him to experience a small part of what those who are LGBT have had to live through to be safe for many years,” said Waters.

“The transformation in him was life-changing,” she said. “It’s what you hope for — the goal of the Christian walk of faith. It’s enough for me that he transformed, but if others learn from him, what an extra blessing that is.”

Step Into My Closet and Meet My Skeletons

I’ve decided… I’m on a mission to change the world. All of us are. What we all desire is a purpose—an assignment—to somehow positively affect our little corner of the world. As a Christian lesbian attempting to build bridges, I do a lot of jabbering about love. But do I carry it out? Sometimes, the answer is no. What are some reasons we fail to practice the love that we preach? Perhaps fear, laziness, hurt feelings (a big one for me)… the reasons can be endless. We’ve all heard the saying, “Those who are the most difficult to love are the ones who need it the most”. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I wrote a blog a couple months back called “Homophobic Homosexuals: Do It For Them”. Many times, it is these internally homophobic people who are the most difficult to like. But though they have an irritating knack for raising my blood pressure, I am called to not only like them, but to love them.

I’ve shared with you before that I used to be a homophobic homosexual. Let me share a story from my past to illustrate that point. During the 2004 Presidential Campaign, I wrote a letter to the editor of our local newspaper. [Before I tell you the content of that letter, let me say that I am not a political person. I never discuss politics on this blog (and with good reason)! In fact, I’m now a registered Libertarian, so I’m quite apathetic when it comes to debates between the G.O.P. and the Dems.] When I registered to vote at 18, I registered as a Republican. My mother’s entire side of the family was registered to that party, so it just seemed like the thing to do. When I began to realize there was nothing I could do about my sexuality, it sort of threw a wrench in my plans. I had this picture in my head of who and what I was supposed to be. Determined to fling myself straight into heterosexuality (pun intended), I wrote a letter to the editor in which I took the classic, right-wing, conservative stance. I’ve since burned the newspaper clipping, but it went something like this:

“I cannot fathom how Christians justify their endorsement for John Kerry. His support for same-sex marriage is absolutely un-Christian! Homosexuality is not normal, and if we continue to tolerate it in this country, we will head down a path of destruction.”…. blah, blah, blah….

I continued on for at least two paragraphs, spouting off the same opinions in a variety of ways. I was proud. I knew what I stood for, and I wasn’t going to budge. One problem, though… I was making out with someone practically every weekend (you guessed it… a girl). That’s right… I knew the way to act and the words to say. But the shell of a person that everyone saw was a big fat lie.

This story is embarrassing to recount. Looking back, I wonder how I could have been so hypocritical! But by writing that letter, I did two things: 1) I got “attagirl’s” and pats on the back from my circle of friends, and 2) I made sure that no one could “wonder if I was gay”. Hadn’t I made it clear in my rant? I was certainly a man-lovin’ lady… a definitive heterosexual.

My inbox was flooded with emails the day my letter to the editor was published. Some affirmed my tirade, some were flat-out mean, and some were thoughtful letters written to me from gay pastors, trying to tell their side of the homosexual debate. I’m ashamed to admit that I discounted them all. Because their views were way out of the realm of my personal comfort, I dismissed them. Retrospectively, I wish with all my heart that I could have let go of my pride and opened the door to communication. Maybe I would have learned a thing or two. Maybe my heart could have been softened. Maybe I could have learned to love a little harder.

Why do I tell you this story? Well, because while I get angry and hurt by those who refuse to engage in conversations about this issue … I have to remember that I used to be one such person. We have to admit to ourselves—however painful it is—that there will always be people who just simply don’t want to have that conversation. They can’t see us as children of God… just people with problems. How do we love those people?—I mean, truly love them?

We must remind ourselves that loving people does not mean that we allow ourselves to stay in abusive situations. Living a life of love requires that we have good emotional and spiritual health. Therefore, if we do not take care of ourselves, we cannot take care of others. There will be some people you must learn to love from a distance. What does that mean? Is that possible? I believe it is. If someone is manipulating you, gaslighting you, or making you feel less than… then it’s time to say goodbye. You can love that person by praying for them and hoping that good things come to them, rather than wishing they would “get what they deserve”. You can love them by releasing that hurt and animosity that exists in your heart. You can, in fact, love authentically from a distance.

In closing, I want to apologize for my past behavior toward the LGBT community. I wish I had saved those emails I received in response to my letter to the editor. Perhaps I could offer some words to undo the damage I did. I’m ashamed of the steps I was willing to take in order to ensure my safety and secrecy deep inside the closet. Now, as a Christian lesbian, I can truly say I’ve seen both sides of the story. Living my life openly and honestly is the best decision I’ve ever made. My relationship with God is stronger, my friendships are real, and my life is chock-full of love. So, my present-day self would like to give my past self a message: Be willing to listen, be willing to let go of your pride, and be willing to live a Godly life of honesty and love.

Homophobic Homosexuals: Do it for Them

People despise in others what they hate in themselves. This is especially true for Christians struggling with homosexuality. And although it’s certainly not true in every case, so many homophobic people end up being exposed as gay people themselves! Why is this? Why the secrecy? Why the double life and the double standards? It’s because as a whole, the Church has taught its people to loathe homosexuals. They make false claims about the “gay agenda” (if there is such a thing, let me know…because I’ve been missing out on the meetings). They also convince people that it is so perverted, so filthy, so unspeakable… that it is a subject unworthy of open discussion.

I’ve experienced this unbelievable phenomenon in my own life. The one who speaks anti-homosexual rhetoric in public is the one who sends me private text messages, telling me how hot they find someone (of the same sex). The one who preaches against the horrors of the gay lifestyle is caught the next week with their gay lover. The one who rants about how homosexuality is unnatural is the same girl who passionately kissed me 10 years ago. Can we see a pattern here?!

Confession time: It’s very difficult for me to not allow anger to consume me. However, I must remember that there was a time when I, myself, was so uncomfortable with my own sexuality that I would have done anything to deny it. Pointing out the sexuality of another takes the spotlight off of their own. If they quote enough Scripture and hold enough picket signs, then perhaps no one will notice that they are questioning their own sexuality.

And guess what? These people are hurting. They’ve been told what to believe, but their experiences teach them something else. They have questions. They have stories. They have a lot of self-hate… and they are silenced. They are silenced by the people they trust and by the church they love. So rather than confront their questions, they attempt to fit in by any means necessary. This could mean hypocrisy. This could mean judging others. But most significantly, it means a lot of hurting individuals.

It’s not just the out and proud LGBT community that is being hurt by the Church. It is the people just like the ones I’ve mentioned, who are sitting in congregations across the world every single week… and they hate themselves. They hate themselves because they’ve been told to.

I ask you… isn’t there a better way? Let’s encourage conversation and discussion within the Church walls.

Let’s do it for them.

Confessions of a Formerly-Homophobic Lesbian

I was once homophobic.

It’s true. What I didn’t realize back then, is that those feelings of fear and dismay toward “those people” stemmed from my own internalized emotions. I didn’t know what to do with the feelings I had. So I just naïvely believed that I was simply a loyal, true-blue friend. That’s must be why I constantly found ways to nurture my relationships with my girlfriends, right? And the agony I felt when we weren’t together? Well… surely that was just the spiritual and emotional bond that young Christian women shared.

I told myself that lie for years. I assumed an interest in boys would manifest eventually. I dated a handful of guys… all of which were Godly, amazing young men. There was no logical reason why I shouldn’t be head over heels. Yet, when I was out on a date, all I could think about was getting back to my “best friend” of the moment… to relax, be myself, and of course, engage in hours of female bonding.

I really am appalled when I think about my ideology back then. Because I’d been told what to believe about homosexuals, I knew that I had better keep a safe distance. I was friendly to everyone—and perhaps even went out of my way to be nice to “those people”—but I never socialized with them. In my own haughty and hypocritical way, I saw my “kindness” as a way to show them Jesus. (I cringe even as I type these words.) My insincere actions reflected nothing of the selfless, humble, love-centric life of Christ.

Occasionally, I’ll read my old journals. They are teeming with clues of my repressed sexuality. Here I was, a teenager who wrote about all of these feelings I was experiencing… yet I didn’t know what to call them. Deep inside I knew there was something going on. But being gay wasn’t an option for me as I saw it, so I simply didn’t think about it. I realize now that my unwillingness to confront these emotions did not make me straight… it just made me confused.

Looking back, I now understand that if I couldn’t even understand my own sexuality, then I had no business judging others who had embraced theirs. On behalf of all homophobes everywhere, I’m sorry. I apologize for the actions that take place when fear replaces love. And no, I’m not suggesting that all homophobic people are really homosexuals, themselves (although I have seen it happen on more than one occasion). All I’m advocating here is love. When I sought the way of Christ, I found that true love is unconditional. We are called to love all people—no matter their race, gender, social class, religion, or sexual orientation. I pray for the day that all people can live without fear… a day when not one more soul is separated from the knowledge of Jesus’ relentless love.