I grew up in the deep south in a community where fundamentalist denominations were the norm. My father was a school principal and the assistant pastor at our Baptist church. As a child, I struggled with the notion that there was a God, finding it illogical in the face of science and in the context of cultural myths like Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. There was no opportunity to explore these doubts in the rigid, authoritarian environment that comprised my home, school and church, so when I came to understand my romantic and sexual feelings toward other men, I saw accepting my LGBT self as completely incompatible with feeling the presence of a god. I saw it as an either/or choice and thought that once I were to come out as gay, that I could not possibly continue to explore feelings that I might have about God, Christ or any other deity for that matter.
Then one day, I went with a friend to hear the Mother’s Day Sermon of Reverend Sloan-Coffin of the Riverside Church in New York City. He spoke about the Bible and its references to homosexuality and many other so-called “abominations,” including women speaking in church; he explained how modern-day christians pick and choose which of the old laws to follow and emphasize. Generally they choose the ones that their neighbors care about so that their real god is THE NEIGHBORS! He thoroughly deconstructed the idea that to be gay is unchristian. What a liberating message this was. It affirmed my intuition that no God would make me and so many others who we are with the purpose of having us reject ourselves our whole lives through. My thoughts about some aspects of Christianity continue to evolve, but I do feel the presence of a god and I feel that who I am is absolutely compatible with the order of the universe.
I realize now that up until that Mother’s Day, I gave much credence and too much power to so-called Christians who willfully interpreted the bible to suit their social orientation — what makes them feel comfortable and safe. But once understood how misguided and unfair it is for christians to use the bible in that way against anyone, I was able to cast off that weight and love myself freely – and feel loved by the heavens too.