Finding a church can be difficult for anyone. There’s a lot to consider. Religion is a deeply personal experience. Yet it is especially frustrating for LGBT individuals who want to have the same faith as others.
Growing up as in the evagelical mostly Baptist church circles there was one thing I had constantly beat into my head, God hates gays. Some churches taught it subtly by saying God only hates the sin not the sinner, others outright said he despises them for being an abomination. Whichever approach they took it always resulted in God, whom you were trying to love, hating you or something fundamentally integral to who you are. That extra layer of self loathing makes it exceptionally hard to find a church that is affirming and accepting.
When I started reading up online about being trans the very first thing I searched in Google above all else was Is it against the Bible to be trans. I spent a lot of years agonizing over that question. It took me far too long to answer that question than it should have take. Most of the time I’d come across a Focus on the Family article and put it to rest. I couldn’t be trans if I was God would hate me.
The feelings never went away so I was ashamed to pray, attend church or fellowship with other believers because I was terrified I couldn’t hide it or that I would confess to the wrong person. I went through a long period where I was so conflicted over this issue the best I could do was suppress it by becoming the very thing I hated, anti-LGBT. Attacking my fellow queers was how I coped. I figured if I could tear them down, straighten them out so-to-speak I could find the inner strength myself to “overcome” my overpowering “sinful” desires to be myself. It took my praying point blank “God, is it okay if I am trans?”
I can’t tell you how relieved I was once I settled that issue. Once I started my journey I realized my spiritual well being was not any safer than it had been. That fear of my Christian peers turning on me became reality. I had a few who remained by my side but I lost more than I’d care to admit. There are whole denominations of churches I used to frequent I am not afraid to attend their services. Afraid to practice the religion that was so near and dear to my heart.
That is when I began to see another pattern emerging among queer folks. So many of use, especially lesbians, turn to witchcraft and similar Pagan or Wiccan alternatives to Christianity. I have always felt a calling to magic. The reason I was Christian in the first place was because I have a deep connection to the spiritual world and felt safe aligning myself with the self-proclaimed Almighty Holy Spirit. If that was the spirit to commune with then I was set. However I began to realize it wasn’t just Christians I was having an issue with, it was the religion entirely.
Going through a longer period of soul searching than I will admit, I reflected deeply on everything I had learned over the years. I eventually came to the conclusion that although I had found an LGBT affirming Protestant church whose services and people provided me some fellowship, it didn’t take long before someone responded to my health crisis with God will take care of you just believe. I was asking for legit advice I was concerned for my well being and I got a stonewall response. The same we don’t have answers answer you often get from far too many people of faith. Just trust God. Yes I did TRUST God but I wasn’t getting answers so I felt like that response was disrespectful. I finally saw Christianity for what it was, even the Good queer Christians were causing harm, albeit inadvertently. What made it worse was I was diagnosed with an incurable medical condition that forces me to make major lifestyle changes. I was lamenting that seeking advice. What I got was trust God it’ll be okay. No it’s not always okay.
Walking away from ones faith can be as difficult as living within it. Despite all my fears of damning myself to hellfire, I felt much freer and at peace once I declared I was distancing myself from Christianity and devoting myself to paganism. I have been invested in witchcraft my entire life. Now I found a way to follow that path while finding peace with my previous religion.
In a way it feels like a divorce. I was married to a deity I felt safe with, except at times I felt ashamed and afraid. Once I realized following that spirit was causing me harm I was more comfortable accepting I had to find another path. One thing Pagans will tell you is many feel called by a particular deity. I was called by Joshua when I was 12. I still pray to him when I feel the need. But I have also opened myself up to the possibility of finding one or more other Goddesses to revere.
I don’t know where my spiritual journey will take me. What I know is being LGBT and Christian is extremely bad for the soul. Even if you find a community that finds a way to accept you, there’s so many other things wrong with that religion I can no longer, in good faith, practice it’s tenants. Nor can I in good conscious proclaim myself one of it’s adherents. This was heartbreaking at first but quite peaceful soon after.
I consider myself quite a spiritual person. If you are also LGBT and seeking spiritual guidance know you are not alone. Finding the right religion for you should be personal. The one piece of advice I will give you is do not let others influence your faith. Find what works for you. Don’t stress about the possibility of what others proclaim.