Shopping for affirmation in the Christian church market

Posted on November 8, 2011

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So I tried out a new church yesterday. I went to a wedding there a few months back and recently heard a rumor that several of my relatives who go there are gay-affirming Christians. “M,” whom I mentioned in my last post, said that one fo my dad’s first cousins went to this church and was very affirming. After I was back in Columbus she sent me a message online, saying that she had been with them and one of my aunts on her way home and they had talked about me being gay and that they would really like to have dinner with me.

I had been hesitant to tell my aunt that I was a gay Christian. I heard that she was gay-affirming, but our family has recently experienced a tragic loss that had put a hold on me coming out to any of my dad’s family. However, M’s timing was good, and the conversation I had with my aunt has encouraged me greatly. She basically had known for a while,a dn I’m afraid that me not telling her may have made her feel like we were less close than I felt. She was that aunt who inspired my choices in college, and who shaped a lot of my young self through some books she lent to my older brother (The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and A Wrinkle in Time).

She is helping me with my coming out now. She knows her brothers well, so I’m going to trust her with the timing. She also helped me decide how to come out. I am going to talk to my grandma in person. I had been scared to do this, but my aunt said that grandma had a sister who was a little bi, and so I feel like I won’t have to do as much explaining.

For the rest of the family, I wrote a letter, and now I’ll need to find everyone’s email addresses. I hope to finish this process before the end of the year, and as soon as I can, I’m going to be out to everyone (except at work, probably).

Back to this new church…

I was shocked earlier this year to find out that there were inclusive Mennonite churches. One of my cousins was going to a Mennonite church here in the city. He and I went to school from kindergarten through high school.

My dad’s cousin, the one that M talked to, invited me to have dinner with them after church, ostensibly to talk about my sexuality. The service was very interesting, and I found out really quick that the affirming thing was true. A lesbian shared about her hopes to immigrate with a foreign partner to Canada, because she had been deported from the US. Another lady announced a petition to give Equal Housing rights to LGBTQ people, and someone mentioned that the current sermon series was on inclusion, and the previous week’s topic had been LGBT inclusion in the church.

Lunch was difficult for me, since I and my hosts were of different generations, I felt a little unease at first, but my cousin’s warm attitude dissipated any discomfort. We talked about family things, and worked our way to the LGBT topic. My cousin had four brothers, two of whom had realized they were gay. Both had been married to women, and one got divorced and later died of AIDs. I remember my mom mentioning the brothers when she first realized I was gay. I think she sort of these as the two paths: get married to a woman and fake it, or die of AIDs. I hope that she will be able to tell from my Christian “lifestyle” that I am in no danger of getting AIDs.

I think it is hard for my parents’ generation to deal with gay kids because they have been led to equate being gay with AIDs and death. I hope that my community can become more accepted, and learn to value and accept themselves, because we can get rid of this bad reputation. I also hope that more people will have the courage to live “out,” because it helps the next generation of gays so much. I don’t know if I would have the courage to come out if I hadn’t seen a lesbian relative at my big Mennonite family gatherings. Additionally, it would be great if our straight supporters were also “out” as allies. I had no idea that my favorite aunt would have been with me through all this. I always assumed that owning up to who I am would mean total exclusion from every family member. I think I could have arrived where I am much earlier if I had known that they weren’t all the same.

Thanks for reading. Please keep my family in your prayers, and pray for em that I would know when it is the right time to come out.

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Posted in: Coming Out