Dear Younger Self,
I remember when you were in elementary school and while watching the news one night you first heard about a young child that was Gay and how they were harshly treated at school. I remember you hearing their story of having affection for someone of their own gender and wondering innocently if that could also be your story.
I remember in high school when you read Phillip Yancey’s book, What’s so Amazing about Grace and got so gripped with fear when you read the chapter about Mel White. (He was a pastor that came out as gay in the 90’s and then lost his congregation and his family.) I remember how you already knew at that point that you wanted to be in ministry of some sort and how you worried that something like this might happen to you. You were terrified that you might marry a man and have kids and a church that you lead and then what if you came out as gay…. your whole life would be over and you’d loose everything. At least that was the only way you could see it playing out. I’m sad that you never had any other examples of how that could have played out in a more authentic and wholistic way.
Imagine marrying the woman of your dreams to begin with and not some man you felt society pigeon holed you into marrying. Imagine having kids with her and raising them in a supportive community! Imagine being respected in the Christian community as someone who helps others listen to their truest self, just as you would have to do if you were to live in this truer but counter cultural way. It’s too bad that when you told your youth pastor about this fear she also had no imagination for these possibilities and just gave you verses to read about homosexuality being a sin.
I’m here now to tell you all of that goodness is possible! I know because I’m living it!
Please share the good news with other young gay Christians who feel they need to cut off one or the other part of themselves in order to belong. It really is possible to be gay and a Christian. In fact I believe more of us need to live that fully in order to share that particular charism of the likeness of God and flesh out the picture for others to know this incredibly loving higher power like that. (Here's some more on that).
Dear one, I also remember that amazing mystical experience you had in college when God particularly gave you the image of the Orange. The peel fell off and all the sections came open and the message was, “Every part of you is Sweet and Healthy!” I know you could not receive that kind of affirmation at the time. You didn’t have any kind of context yet where it would be ok to embrace your gay identity. All you could receive it as was an affirmation that you weren’t gay because every part of you is sweet and healthy. It is too bad that you couldn’t receive it as the affirmation of full acceptance that it was, but it is ok… I have grace for you. I also have sadness for you and that situation. I’m sad about how you sharing that story as a spiritual leader to other young people made some of the ones struggling with their own gay identity hurt and push God away even more because they couldn’t pray their gay away. I’m sad for how you unknowingly caused them so much harm.
When we know better we do better. I’m so glad you are an explorer and kept exploring beyond the bounds of the fundamental Christianity you were brought up in! I’m so glad you met people who were feminists and also Christians, people who believed in social justice and caring for the whole person and not just the soul. I am especially glad that you met beautiful loving lesbians who had been married for years and faithfully served in their church. I’m so glad you found a church that was not afraid to openly ask the questions of it is ok to be gay and christian and to look together at those few confusing Bible verses on this topic. I’m so glad you finally felt supported and loved and safe enough to come out to yourself and admit that perhaps you could fall in love with a woman and that is A-OK!
What a gift it has been to watch you over the past 2 years of freeing yourself to be authentically and unabashedly you. Like attracts like and you now have an amazing and authentic woman to do life with! What a gift of a life it is indeed!
Thank you for being you all along the way in as much authenticity and bravery as you could muster. I wonder what the next 35 years of living more and more into your truest self will look like!
One last thing... always remember that it is ok for women to have fun riding motorcycles too! You don't just have to be a passenger on the back. Freedom is for everyone!