Everything written in this series is from my point of view on things then, as I lead up to when and how I changed. These are the major events in my life that had an impact on my view of God, the Bible, and denominations. If I wrote about every event, we’d be here too long and I too many people would get mad at me.
This is my side of my story and I harbor no ill will to anyone mentioned in it (everyone will be anonymous), I know some people from my past will most likely read this and I don’t want anyone to think I am angry, because this isn’t who I am anymore.
This series will include my struggles with congregational problems in the denominational world, my confusion about what the Bible actually taught, LGBTQ+, depression, and suicidal thoughts, so if any of that bothers you, please click off.
Today, this post is about my struggle with my sexuality and what I was exposed to, I’m not going into depth or writing about everything because that is still too hard for me and there are many things I don’t want to relive, but I know I have younger readers as well and this is your warning to click off, I’ll be posting a lighter post for y’all soon to break up this series. ❤
June (fake name) was everything I wanted to be.
She was tough, she didn’t let anyone push her around. No one looked at her and thought “teacher’s pet” no one looked at her and expected her to be perfect.
She was as short as I was and skinny, but despite being tiny, she had a look in her eyes that dared anyone to mess with her.
She sat by me one night before Awanas started, “I can’t believe I’m being forced to come to this stupid church event, what a scam.”
I stared at her.
“My name’s June, and you are?” she reached out her hand.
“Grace.” I shook her hand.
June slumped against the wall and looked me up and down, finally, she just said, “Wow, you’re shy.”
We were friends from then on.
We made jokes about the way the preacher ranted about guns during every lesson no matter the topic.
We whispered about our struggles to each other.
We cried on each other’s shoulders.
She was with me when I had my first break down, my first panic attack. She held me in her arms as I just lost in the bathroom one night after youth group, and unlike a lot of my other friends, she didn’t leave.
She didn’t want to hang out with the more popular kids, she didn’t try to leave me behind for anyone. She stayed.
“Invite her to Sunday worship,” one of the youth leaders told me, “she really likes you, she would come for you.”
So I did, and she showed up. She sat on the second pew to the front as I sang in the choir.
“I don’t belong here,” she whispered as I sat down beside her. I honestly wanted to whisper that I didn’t either, but instead, I just gripped her hand tighter.
I was one of the first people she came out to.
“I’m gay, Grace,” she whispered one night, after youth group.
“What? June, that’s against the bible.” I said.
“I don’t care what the bible says, Grace. That’s just an old book people use to control others, besides all of that is in the Old Testament and no one follows any of the other rules in it, like not wearing mixed fabrics. People pick and choose so they can judge others.”
I didn’t know how to reply to that so all I said was, “I still love you, you’re still my friend.”
“You’re so brainwashed, you’re the only person I come to these stupid things for.” she scoffed as she hugged me.
And that was that.
June was gay and she was my friend.
I didn’t know what to think of her being gay, all I knew is that I loved her and I didn’t want to lose her, she was one of the only friends I had. Neither of us knew how to love or how to really be friends with people, but we tried as best as we could. We were just two confused and scared fourteen-year-olds trying to find our place in the world.
The majority of the youth group came out to me as LGBTQ+ after that, June had told them that I was non-judgmental and a good listener, and listen I did, an internal conflict in my mind between what I had been taught and what I had been learning–they were just like me and everyone else: people.
They asked me questions on why being gay was wrong and at the time, I had no idea how to answer.
Then, they started to question my sexuality thinking I was in denial.
“Grace, you’re anything but straight.”
“Grace, everyone’s a little gay.”
“Grace, stop repressing yourself.”
“Grace, if God loves everyone, why would He condemn you for who you love?”
“Grace we all know you’re not straight.”
“Grace, you like June, and June likes you.”
Was I? Did I?
I didn’t know to be honest.
I had never really thought about it, but suddenly I had all of these questions.
Was it normal to think other girls were pretty, or was that only a gay thing?
Was I gay?
Was I damned to hell for even questioning if I was?
I had liked a few boys in the past, but never in the way the kids in the youth group described to me, I had never wanted to do anything sexual with anyone.
The majority of the guys I was around were the gross, disrespectful kind that would brush their hands against your body or grab you and then claim it was an accident, I certainly didn’t like any of them. They made me feel so worthless and empty like I would never be anything more than an object.
I use to wear this necklace all the time and I remember one night the group was really small and we were setting some game up and I ended up alone in a room with one of the guys.
“I like your necklace,” he said, he reached out and touched it, then his hand slid a little bit lower and over my chest.
“What are you doing?” He jumped back as one of the youth leaders walked in.
“Oops, my bad, b.”
I stopped wearing necklaces but things like that didn’t stop happening, I could never tell if they were on purpose or accident, sometimes I felt like I was going crazy so I kept my mouth shut.
I was the sheltered homeschooler and they took it upon themselves to educate me. The first time I saw pornographic content was during youth group when someone held their phone in front of my face. It took me a second to figure out what I was seeing and then I was too shocked to say anything so I just shrugged it off and walked away with as straight of a face as I could.
They disgusted me.
The way they talked to me and about my body disgusted me.
Did all guys disgust me?
I wasn’t sure, it felt like they were all the same, so maybe they did.
I was really relieved when I finally got a crush on a guy at my co-op. He was a sweet and very sheltered theater type of guy, he was way older than me, but I was just happy to have someone to tell others I liked, someone that was male.
I thought that would solve it, but then people told me about being bisexual and pansexual and the confusion went on.
I didn’t know.
One night, I went up to an elder and asked him what the Bible said about gay people.
“He hates them.” the elder stated, “They will all burn in hell.”
I walked away with no verses to study.
Rumors about June and I being together started spreading.
I was at a party for the fourth of July and I was washing my hands in the bathroom when a girl turned to me and said, “I know you, you’re June’s girlfriend aren’t you? She talks about you.”
I didn’t know what to say, so I just said no and left.
June and I never talked about it, I didn’t know how to bring it up, I didn’t know how to ask her if she had anything to do with the rumors that we had done stuff together.
“If I’m gay or bi or whatever,” I told her once, “I wouldn’t ever act on it or tell people I was because I’m not sure what the Bible really says or means about it.”
I was too scared to ask about it, I had briefly talked to my parents about what they thought about being gay, it was wrong, they pointed to Sodom and Gomorrah.
“Mom, if I came out, what would you and dad do?” I asked once in the car.
My mom glanced at me, she looked uneasy. “I don’t know, we would pray, we wouldn’t stop loving you. Maybe we would look into some camps…”
I didn’t want to go to a camp if I wasn’t straight, that thought scared me, so I decided to keep my mouth shut.
The preacher decided to give the youth group the sex talk over the course of the next two youth group nights.
I went expecting the typical “wait until marriage” spill, and that was the first five minutes, the rest, he told us about how God hated all gay people.
How everyone who is gay deserves to burn in hell and is a monster.
He warned us about gay people converting us.
He talked about how some people are born with sin and sometimes the sin is gayness–I remember sitting there thinking how unfair it was that he was claiming that God sets people up for failure.
He ranted about how being gay was a new sin and no one he knew when he was in high school ever struggled with gay thoughts.
All I felt was rage and one of my friends who was sitting beside me shaking.
She was thirteen and had been struggling because she wasn’t sure if she was straight.
“God will never love me again, Grace, for thinking this way. My parents will throw me out, I’ll be alone.” she cried when she came out to me.
And now, here was this clueless man, ranting about gay people being monsters and the worst of the worst to a crowd of questioning and scared teens and pre-teens.
I was angry.
Yes, I wanted to know what the Bible said about being gay because I didn’t know how to view it or how to answer people when they asked why I thought it was wrong, but he hadn’t read a single verse.
I was angry because I knew he had been married before his current wife and the Bible spoke about divorce and yet, he was here acting as if gay people are the problem with the world and not just sin in general.
I stood up and raised my hand.
“Why are you talking about this out of everything? What about people who got a divorce wrongly?” his face darkened, but I kept on,
“what about people that have sex before marriage? What about pedophiles? There are so many sins that seem worse than just being confused, why are you leaving gay people with no hope? If I was gay I would want to know what the Bible says about it and how I can fix whatever my problem was, but you have given us nothing to do any of that.”
I sat back down but my questions were never answered.
June left after that.