I suppose maybe I should share a bit about myself, who I am and where I come from; share some of the trials I’ve been through in life and perhaps share a bit about why it is that I decided to start this blog. I’ll be 25 in two months and already I’ve been through a lot of pretty bad stuff, most of it taking place between when my parents divorced when I was only eight years old and now. It’s all been enough to push me to a ledge that I was finally pulled away from for a short time, only to be pushed back by the same hatred and ignorance that I created this blog to combat. Only now, I’m not standing on that ledge, but rather hanging off and holding on only by the tips of my fingers and I’m slowly slipping with nothing to pull me back. I’ll try to stick just to the events in my life relevant to the purpose behind this blog.
My faith is something that I have struggled with greatly, since around about the same time that I began the process of preparing for my first communion. It was at that point that I began to notice and question things, especially in regards to many of the hypocrisies of the Catholic Church; I began to take notice of the “do as I say, not as I do,” mentality passed on from the priests and such, down to the sheep who followed and obeyed blindly. I couldn’t say anything then; I was young and I was being raised by a physically and emotionally abusive mother who’d been a devout Catholic her entire life. It wasn’t until the church cast her out after she lied about the reason for her divorce being a result of the physical abuse she falsely accused my father of. In truth, she was the one dealing out the abuse against him, and even my own grandmother, who was never his biggest fan, was unwilling to lie to the church to save my mother’s status and cut my father down more than my mother had already managed to do by taking me away from him and screwing him over financially… not to mention the affairs she had that finally resulted in her getting pregnant after spending several weekends who knows where with the man who became my stepfather and who I came to resent just as much as I resent my own mother.
After the divorce we moved from Rochester, New York to Frankfort and lived in a trailer park until we moved to Greensboro, North Carolina on my 13th birthday and things took a turn for the worst. Within a few months, on top of the abuse and being upset about moving even further away from my Dad, I also began to realize that I was a bit different; I began to notice that I didn’t have the same interest in the boys in our school that most of the other girls had. Instead, my focus and interest was in the girls. This revelation scared me and just added one more obstacle to my attempts to struggle through the depression I was dealing with and all the other issues going on at home. I couldn’t be gay. I’d seen the way other LGBTQA+ people were treated and I didn’t want to be the next target of the hatred and ignorance I’d witnessed. In an attempt to convince myself and others that I wasn’t gay, I put myself in potentially dangerous situations. At one point, I started dating a junior and quickly realized, after a week of nightly phone calls that got me in trouble with my mother and a few very dark and threatening letters, that I’d made a mistake and that, in the process of attempting to convince myself and others of a lie, I was risking my safety. Of course, I was too afraid to get out of the situation on my own and an end wasn’t put to the whole thing until my mother went snooping through my room while I was at school and found the letters.
After that I decided it was best to find another means to get rid of the part of me that I didn’t want. I’d heard hate preached toward the community in the Catholic Church. According to them, the God who supposedly made me in his image, didn’t want me to be gay, so I thought if I prayed hard enough, then maybe he would take that part of me away and make me “normal.” I got down on my knees every night and I begged him to take it away, begged him to make me straight and save me from the consequences I’d been warned of if I didn’t find a way to be just like all the other girls my age, fawning over boys that I had no interest in, that I couldn’t figure out what they saw in. I would lay in bed and fall asleep repeating my prayers and promising him that I would be the best person that I could be, that I would continue to strengthen my relationship with him, to do my best not to sin and to apologize and beg forgiveness when I did. This praying and begging went on for months. We started going to a non denominational church and even though the church prided itself on being progressive and accepting of people from all walks of life, those in the LGBTQA+ community included, I still struggled to accept myself and spent several Sundays not listening to the words the pastor preached and instead used the hour and a half long weekly sermons as more time to beg God to make me straight.
He never took it away. After almost a year of praying and begging and promising to do my best to be everything I’d been led to believe he wanted me to be, he refused to take away the part of me that the Catholic Church, the media, my mother, and so many others had told me was like some sort of vile disease that would get me sent straight to hell when my time came. His failure to take that part of me away only served to weaken an already rocky relationship. After almost a year of struggling with my orientation and searching for ways to “fix” what wasn’t broken in the first place, with the help of a few friends and a little help from the church we were attending, I came to accept that perhaps there really wasn’t anything wrong with me like people in certain religious circles claimed and that maybe God did want me to be exactly as I was, as he made me. If not, then why not take it away after months begging him to fix me? If I wasn’t exactly as I was supposed to be, then why were none of my attempts to change who I was, to change this thing that I hated about myself, working?
I learned to accept myself as I was, but my relationship with God was still on the rocks. I worked to strengthen it and it was taking time and effort, but I was getting there despite feeling like all my prayers for strength and courage and to lift the feeling of loneliness I felt in my other struggles were being ignored. I snapped and gave up, however, when our youth pastor began going against the views of the church as a whole, speaking out against the LGBTQA+ community in sermons and making posts on his facebook, despite being friends with a large number of impressionable individuals who attended his Sunday night youth group, about how disgusting and sick those of us in the community are and how we were making a choice to be that way and were dishonoring God by making that choice. I knew that who I was wasn’t a choice. I’d struggled with it and begged the same God he was using to attack my community to take it away because I didn’t want it and God had failed to take it away. Hearing those sermons and reading those posts was like being hit in the face with bricks. Our youth pastor’s words made me feel weak and alone, and I asked God to grant me the strength to see past the words and to let me know I wasn’t alone, I asked him to grant me the courage to begin speaking out and counteract the words of hate that were being preached with words of love and acceptance. I never got or found the strength, nor the courage to speak out when and where it mattered most, and continued to feel more alone each time I heard or saw more hateful words. Eventually, I decided that I’d had enough and I gave up on and turned away from God the way he left me to feel like he’d given up and turned away from me.
It was only after I turned away that I began to find strength and courage and began fighting back. I stopped going to church on Sundays because I was upset with them for allowing the youth pastor to preach hate when they made a big deal about how accepting they were of everyone. I no longer wasted my time going to youth group on Sunday nights, and instead I began spending my spare time seeking out like minded individuals who would help build me up instead of tear me down, who I could fight back along side, and who let me know that I wasn’t as alone as I’d been left by God to feel.
It wasn’t until around the beginning of this year that I decided to try and have a relationship with God again. I thought perhaps I was finally strong enough to be able to ignore words of hate and to fight back against them without asking him to grant what he was never willing to give. Without him, I’d found the courage I needed, and by the end of January the girl who helped to bring me back to him had also lifted the feeling of loneliness I’d been living with for so long. I began working on repairing my broken relationship with God and for the first time I felt the effort was paying off and that I was finally actually growing closer to him, that he’d finally opened his arms to me when for so long I felt he’d had them closed to me.
But there are still far too many parents out there who are too focused on the parts of the bible people believe speak against those of us in the community. There are too many parents so brainwashed by their faith and by the hateful words uttered in churches that they put their own children in situations where they feel like they have to hide. There are too many parents who respond to their children opening up to them about who they are that respond with hate instead of love and cast them out, or try to “fix” them when they aren’t broken, or force them to try and be somebody they can’t be. There are too many parents who are failures as parents because they fail at the most basic and important job they have as parents: to love and accept their children unconditionally.
I managed to find everything I’d ever wanted; I found the girl of my dreams and I honestly believed that it was God who brought us together. But it was also God who came between us in the form of parents who make their children feel like they have to hide. I lost that relationship because of faith, because of hatred and ignorance that exists because of erroneous belief in hateful words written in a book that is far too often misinterpreted and used as a tool of hate. Losing that relationship broke me. It broke me because here I’d come to believe that for once God was finally listening to me and for once things in my life were looking up and changing for the better. It broke me because I’d talked to God every night and thanked him for bringing us together and begged him not to take her away at all, asked him to give us both the strength to work through the obstacles that I knew would lie ahead for us because of ignorant and un-accepting parents. I spoke to him and I heard him whisper back to me, making promises and telling me what I now know were lies. I asked for signs that what we shared was right and that it would last and he answered, gave me confirmation. For the first time I felt close to God and for the first time I felt like perhaps love really did win after believing for so long that it was bound to lose. And then in an instant it was all gone, because the strength to fight that I asked for was not granted to both of us and because too many parents fail to acknowledge that it is there job to put their beliefs aside and put their children first, and love and accept those children as they are and not make them feel like they have to hide.
I’ve turned away from God again because once again he has left me to feel that he has turned away from me, once again he has let me down. There have been several nights over the last month and a half that I’ve laid in bed wondering what her parents would think and how they would feel if they knew my struggle, if they knew that the only thing that finally managed to bring me back to God and gave me the strength and desire to repair my damaged relationship with him and get closer to him was their daughter and what we shared and the hope that I had with her. And I wonder what they would think and how they would feel if they knew that their bigoted views that came between us are responsible for making me give up on God once again, likely permanently this time. I wonder what they would think and how they would feel if they knew that it wasn’t who I am that has damned me, but rather their hate and ignorance because I have no desire to worship or have a relationship with or seek salvation from a God that has been used against me since the moment I realized who I was. I wonder what all the parents out there just like them would think and how they would feel if they knew that the only thing they are achieving by being hateful and ignorant, rather than loving and accepting, is pushing more people away from God, if they knew that a big part of the reason why the world is becoming so “Godless” and “faithless” is because of their own hateful words and actions. Any parent, or any person at all who shows those who are different than them anything less than love, as the bible commands them to, and instead shouts hate and makes people feel like they have to hide, or who push people to the point of suicide, or shed our blood with their own two hands, and wonders why so many are turning away from God and why Christianity is a dying faith, need only look in the mirror to discover why. More people might be willing to have a relationship with their God if more people of faith were more willing to show love and compassion rather than hate and rejection.