My mother wasn’t always a priest. In the years before her priesthood, we were still devout Christians in our house. I remember Sunday school, wearing turtle necks under my dresses. There was nothing Christian about that. It was just my mother’s way of dressing me. I remember reciting memory verses, singing songs, immersing myself in Bible stories. I remember singing Christian songs while traveling because someone told me that would ward off accidents.
Fast forward to boarding school. No sex education from home, church or school beyond the tired ‘Sex is for marriage’ and ‘sex is bad’ and ‘do not talk to boys’. I read books, I discovered sex and along the way, picked up masturbation. It felt sinful. After every climax, I would vehemently pray for forgiveness and redemption. Looking back, I can see the effects that that had on my perception of sex and pleasure. But we are talking about religion today, not sex.
My relationship with God has been protean. Over the years, I have committed what I considered to be grievous sins. Most of them sexual. But somehow having sex with men seemed to me a ‘smaller’ sin than sleeping with women, or being attracted to them. I stopped going to church for a while. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt that I couldn’t sit there in my woman loving body and sing and praise with all my sins. My second girlfriend, though she wasn’t my girlfriend at the time, helped me get back to Church.
Church? I love it. My favourite part is the singing and the sermon. Do I go every Sunday? No. Mostly because I am lazy.
When your parents are religious as mine, Church is really important. With my mom being a priest, we are herded out to the front of the church, we greet the congregation, we introduce ourselves and we sit. And we are known as the pastor’s family.
I think about that a lot. If word leaked out to the diocesan community, comprising of my mom’s colleagues that I am queer, would she be excommunicated? For raising an alterity like me?
But this isn’t about that either.
My religion and my queerness existed in conflict within me for a long time. They waged wars, they tore me apart. Not anymore. I think of religion as the organized body with all these rules and regulations that oftentimes have nothing to do with who I perceive God to be. I think of spirituality as my relationship with God and how I nurture that relationship and subsequently, how it manifests in my life.
I am okay with loving women now. And I know that God is okay with that too. I figure He knows me, and He knows what He made. Right now, I am just trying to focus on building my relationship with Him. On nurturing habits that I think would make Him happy. It is really hard separating myself from the religious beliefs that I was brought up on. It’s a never-ending battle.
I take comfort in the knowledge that God loves me. I am learning to get comfortable with the knowledge that my queerness isn’t an entity that people can either accept or reject. It’s not something that was put inside me. It’s not something that can be removed. It’s not even a something. It’s just me.
It saddens me that people, including my parents, won’t see that the way I do. When I came out to my sister, she later texted me, reminding me that ‘God intended for a man to be with a woman’. If I ever talk to my parents about this, I think religion will play a huge role in their reaction and response. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
How does religion and spirituality sit with you as a queer person. Tell me, I would like to know.
featured image from google.