If I was born straight, I would have joined the clergy.
Growing up, I took a deep interest in the scriptures. I remember being as young as 12, taking my Bible to school and reading during lesson breaks and on lunch. In church, I would sing hymns like “Nearer, my God, to Thee,” taking those words to heart. I was baptized. While other kids my age were reading teen fiction novels, I was reading apologetics. I even joined an adult Sunday School class because I wasn’t “getting enough” spiritual substance from my regular youth class. It was serious to me. I took it all to heart.
Then I realized that I was gay. Looking back on it, I always had those feelings. I tried having feelings for my best friend in high school, an amazing girl who is still a close friend. However, those just weren’t genuine. No amount of prayer could change that I really had a crush on someone else, a person of the same gender. Well, shit.
I won’t go into detail because it’s personal and painful, but I can say with absolute assurance that my first years acknowledging my sexuality, I wanted to die.
I wanted to die. Everyday.
How I’m not dead is a genuine miracle. For years, it was almost all I thought about. And why? Because I knew what the scriptures said. There was no walking around it. And reading those words, especially when they were invoked from people that I loved… I cannot put the pain into words.
For context, I wasn’t kicked out of my home. There are so many others who had it so much worse than me. I am fortunate enough to have amazing, loving parents who love me no matter who I am. And yet, those feelings were there. That pain was real.
There is still a guilt that exists in acknowledging these feelings. I am so blessed with an amazing family and friends. I have my needs met, and there is so much happiness in my life. Even in those years of darkness. I eventually learned that you could feel both gratitude and despair, and it’s okay. It’s valid.
Not long after I came out, I left the faith and considered myself Agnostic. I put religion to the side, and I didn’t really give it too much more thought. After all, look at how much pain it had caused me. When I would come home and attend church with my parents, I didn’t take communion. While I knew that I was always welcome to His table, I couldn’t bring myself to partake in something so special and sacred when I didn’t believe. Even though abstaining hurt, it was an act of respect. I hope He appreciated that.
After taking my LSAT and working on my Law School applications, there was a sudden urge to really answer the question “What do I actually believe?” I picked up my Bible for the first time in years, and I opened it to a random page. It was the Beatitudes.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the Earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
I cried. I cried harder than I have in a very long time. The words of the Savior comforted me in a way I never knew possible. In that moment, I understood that I was enough. That I was not defined by something I could not choose. That He had seen my suffering, acknowledged it, and wiped away my tears. That He never left me.
I went to the kitchen, and I grabbed a small plate with a piece of store-bought bread, and some left over wine in the fridge. I sat down, and took communion by myself, for the first time in years. I prayed that despite my uncountable flaws, that my life may be an emulation of the Savior’s love, and that other queer people may see me as a walking testimony to the love of God. That you can be authentic to yourself and to God, without hating yourself or walking away from faith. That you belong in the body of Christ. That, after all the pain, it is well with your soul.