In the Closet: On Being Queer and Christian9/17/2014
I shouldn't have to wonder how quickly my parents would cut me off financially if I decided to come out of the closet, but I often do. ...
I shouldn't have to wonder how quickly my parents would cut me off financially if I decided to come out of the closet, but I often do. So goes the plight of being queer, Christian, and in the closet.
What does it mean to be queer while identifying heavily as a Christian? I spent my high school years wondering why the aggressive cherry-picking of Bible scriptures only applied same-sex relationships when it came to discussions of "sin". Despite the “love the sinner, hate the sin” trope used by church members, I never heard this being applied to anything other than discrimination against the LGBT community. Evidently, queer members of families and churches are not worthy of love and security.
My own revelation and clarity came when I was in high school: I spent many years trying to figure out what it meant; having accepted Jesus into my life and crushing on the pretty teacher’s aide in ninth grade, resolving to just ignore my crushes throughout tenth grade, realizing in eleventh grade that my sophomore attempts at ignoring were just making me upset, and finally embracing my identity as bisexual in twelfth grade. As I grew to accept myself, I noticed how closed-minded my family was to the LGBT community.
I remember watching Cops with my mother one day during my junior year of college. An assumed lesbian couple was being arrested and my mother scoffed, “Look at them. Sickos.” It wasn’t unusual for her to have this sort of commentary: In my early years of identifying as queer, I remembered her referring to Ellen Degeneres as “Ellen Degenerate”, and the week I was home for Spring Break she laughingly told a friend on the phone how she harassed a gay man who was minding his own business at a train station. She referred to the latter situation as a “standoff between Christ and the devil” as she stared the man down. I felt like her bigotry was the exact opposite of what kind of Christian I wanted to be.
On the Sunday's that I choose to attend church, I sit and sometimes hear sermons that demonize my humanity because of whom I love. All through my mother's homophobic rants and casual homophobia taught in sermons I wondered how this much hatred could emanate from people who claimed to worship and love the Lord. I wondered this about The Church as a whole: how the church loves to place judgement on America for states legalizing marriage equality, but absolves the same country for centuries of massacre, rape, and enslavement that was done "in the name of the Lord", how the church loves to dictate how "unnatural" the sexuality spectrum is when it comes to reproduction, but is silent when their dictations are used against them with elderly and infertile couples.
As confusing as it may seem, I am both Christian and queer. I exist within two communities that have clashed and will continue to clash until the Christian community realizes that the history of using the Bible to shame and oppress others is still being perpetuated through this message of exclusion. In a society where queer teens and young adults are being financially abandoned by their Christian parents as a reaction to them coming out, the issue of children having to hide their identities as a means of having access to food, shelter, and health means that the church is more concerned with punishment than it is with love.
There are those of you who will be outraged that someone has decided to be queer while happily applying Christianity to their humanity and being affected by the Word. For those people, I bid you good luck: we are queer, we sit next to you in church, and we praise the Lord just as you do.
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The author of this article has chosen to remain anonymous.