To my friends at my baptismal parish

A reflection by Lindsey

I always start thinking about my baptism in October. I was baptized in my current Christian tradition on 31 October 2009. It’s a movie that I can replay in color immediately as I start reflecting on it. I invited friends from virtually every season of my life. It was an incredible day, and I’m immensely grateful of how God graced me with community, hope, and Himself in the sacraments.

Over the course of the last few days, many friends from my baptismal parish have gotten in touch with me. They’ve seen our posts about how we’ve been welcomed in our church here; and they’ve been contacting me to tell me that they’re sorry Sarah and I are having to endure these things. Some have even made their first comments on the blog in an effort to show me that they love me and that they want to support me, Sarah, and the relationship we have together.

To my friends at my baptismal parish: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry because I had no idea how to share my celibate vocation with you. I’m sorry that when you now click on my Facebook profile, you can see that I’ve shared every post we’ve ever published on A Queer Calling. Until today, I had the vast majority of you on a special Facebook list in order to try and preserve my privacy. I’m sorry for determining that I’d be taking far too great a risk if I shared our writing here with you.

I’ve decided to write to you today because some of you took the bold step of reaching out to me before I reached out to you. You could tell that I was struggling to figure out how to get myself to church on Sunday, and you reached out to me. Even though we’re separated by hundreds of miles, you managed to reach out and touch my heart. Thank you.

I’m sorry I’ve been so terribly gun shy about discussing my sexuality, my vocation, and my relationship with Sarah. I’ve taken to hiding in a hermetically-sealed cage because I have come to expect “welcomes” like the one I received on Sunday. I hid because I was afraid. I was afraid that the moment I actually confirmed the rumors that I am, in fact, a part of the LGBT community, I would be asked to leave the physical premises of most churches. I’ve developed a lot of coping strategies for when Christians discuss LGBT people as Public Enemy #1 or that it’s impossible to be gay and Christian. I’m constantly afraid that if Christians see me doing anything to help other LGBT people deepen their relationship with Christ, then they will demand that priests deal with me swiftly and decisively. The walls have been up for a reason, but I’m so grateful for every small way you’ve tried to edge just a bit closer to me.

Writing to you today is hard. So many priests have cautioned me against ever saying anything remotely public about my sexuality lest I cause a scandal. However, some of you have arrived at the doorstep of our comment boxes only to assure me of your prayers, love, and support. I hope I’m right in guessing that you’ve already let the cat out of the proverbial bag. I keep trying to take big deep breaths to reassure myself that some of you have commented on the blog precisely because you’re trying to let me know that I can reach back. But I’m scared, terrified even, because I’ve been told, time and time again, that I need to be incredibly cautious when I talk about these topics.

<Exhale. Deep breath. It’s going to be okay.>

I’m a celibate LGBT Christian who is one-half of a celibate LGBT couple.

I’m writing to you today because I want you to know that, yes, you actually do know someone who is LGBT and striving to cultivate a celibate vocation. I’ve learned so much about my vocation by watching how you live your lives. I’m still asking God for the grace necessary to run the race set before me; I’d covet your prayers. I know you are praying for me because you reached out to me before I reached out to you. I’ve been trying actively to keep my writing from some of you; however, you still found your way here, and I’m grateful.

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6 thoughts on “To my friends at my baptismal parish

  1. Yes. It’s going to be okay. While I grieve the pain you both have suffered, I have hope that your suffering will not be in vain– that your experience in the church will eventually become what straight Christians experience and take for granted every day (that is, a loving relationship with your community), and that your struggles will pave the way for so many more LGBT Christians to find the courage to enter a church without hiding part of who they are. Much love to you all.

    • Thanks Annie. Every person has to discern his or her vocations, and hopefully we’ll be able to have honest conversations about the way sexual orientation and gender identity factors into the discernment processes.

  2. That fear of being found out makes me think of my two years working in East Africa. We learned very early on not to out ourselves to our friends and co-workers; the stakes were very, very high. At the least, there was the risk of not being able to do our work or integrate into our communities. At the most severe, there was risk of physical violence or legal issues.

    Near the end of my time there, I resolved no longer to lie about myself to my friends once I got back to the States. I’ve kept that mostly, though there are still people who lived in my second community I don’t want to find out. Fear marked much of my experience living in that place, and, five months later, I’m still dealing with it. I’m not happy with the memories I have, even though I know it’s a fruitless emotion.

    I was pleasantly surprised, though, when some friends asked about the woman I told them was my girlfriend. I told them the truth, that I’d been lying about her and that I’m actually gay. Two of them in particular have kept up contact with me, seeking me out on Facebook to say hello. One of them even occasionally asks about the man I’m dating. It feels good that these two friends haven’t changed their opinions of me, and even gave me the opportunity to speak about what it’s like for LGBT people in their country.

    I’m glad to have found your blog. You both have taught me a lot about the diversity of the LGBT community, and the experiences you share expand my worldview. Thank you very much for every brave step you take. 🙂

    • Unfortunately for many LGBT people, the stakes are incredibly high. I’m always grateful when God connects me with people who defy the mold.

      We’re glad you’ve found our blog as well! We look forward to getting to know you better.

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