April 26, 2021: I type a caption, share some photos. With a few taps, I tell the truth.
In her book My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, Jenn Shapland writes: “To her husband, whom she married twice, Carson called her woman lovers “imaginary friends.” Her biographers called them traveling companions, good friends, roommates, close friends, dear friends, obsessions, crushes, special friends. I’m over it. I, for one, am weary of the refusal to acknowledge what is plainly obvious, plainly wonderful. Call it love.” After reading, I write in my own journal: “I think this is what I’m trying to get at when I both want to come out and don’t, want to talk about sex and don’t, want to be in a relationship and don’t. If someone were to look at my life for a burden of proof…? that whatever happens… I will still love in the same ways, and have loved in the same ways, that may not, and perhaps cannot, be proven. Yes, I exist this way. I say so, and it is so.”
That was earlier this year. But it hasn’t always been this way.
2016: I have a conversation that leads me to ask: am I attracted to women? I wrestle with doubts and questions and fears and anxieties. I start inexplicably crying in church.
2017: I switch churches, but still cry. I quit blogging my monthly reads. Instead, I request stacks of queer literature, commentary, theology, and history from my local library, and read it all.
2018: I go to therapy. I comb through my old journals, searching for answers, or at least for clues. I try church after church after church, and cannot stop myself from breaking down into sobs.
2019: I whisper, “I’m gay,” and vomit into my kitchen sink. A few months later, I make myself a rainbow friendship bracelet after coming out to a few trusted friends, and as I lift my hands for communion at yet another church, I see it on my wrist and tear up.
2020: I come out to my parents. I call and text a few more friends, but can count the people who know on two hands. I am still conflicted about the intersection of faith and sexuality. I try one more church.
2021: A year into the pandemic, five years into this journey — I reach a breaking point. I can no longer ignore the tension between known and not-known, seen and not-seen, truth and not-quite-truth. As a grown-up preacher’s kid, I see what’s happening in the Anglican Church in North America, a denomination I’ve called home for half my life, and cry.
The College of Bishops effectively tells the LGBTQ community that the words we use to describe ourselves (“Gay Christians”) are unacceptable at best, un-christian at worst. It is nothing short of heartbreaking; an ensuing statement from the Archbishop of Nigeria is soul-crushing. I realize that over the past five years, my primary emotion while attending church has been grief: simultaneously feeling that an Anglican church would not want me the way that I am, and that I am somehow abandoning the truth by setting foot in any and all of the Episcopal churches that bring me moments of peace.
I do not know when or if I will be able to attend an ACNA church again. I do not know when or if I will stop crying in church. What I do know is this: I need to tell the truth. Realizing I am a lesbian was like not knowing a piece of me was missing, then finding it and feeling more whole; like I didn’t know I was holding my breath, but now I can breathe freely; like I am finally at home in my own skin. I cannot and will not be compared to a terrorist or murderer, or a yeast infecting the church at large. I am fearfully and wonderfully made; the Lord’s mercy endures forever; I am called a child of God; he has called me by name, and I am his. I know that out of nothing but boundless love for us, Jesus died that I might have life and have it more abundantly. I hold onto the promises of Scripture and our common baptism when I cannot hold onto the promises of men: that there is one Body and one Spirit, one hope in God’s call to us, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all.
April 26, 2021: I hang my hope — my faith, my life, my words, my actions — on God, The Word who gives us words, who always listens, always loves. The God who sees me — the whole me — and has always known the truth.