Illustration by Ren Rader
I am gay and I am Christian. For many years these two parts of me seemed irreconcilable, but I eventually realized how necessary it is for me to accept both truths to truly be either. As many of us in the LGBTQIA+ community know well enough, figuring out who you are is not an easy task. I was brought up in an average Hispanic home, and despite my parents not being religious themselves, I still spent much of my formative years in deeply Catholic spaces. As any Catholic can tell you, regardless of whether or not your parents are devout, you are still baptized, attend Sunday school, go to Mass and say grace before meals.
When I was young, graphic depictions of the crucifixion and talk of sin and eternal damnation frightened me. By the time I entered middle school, I knew I was different but wasn’t quite ready to accept it. I often prayed to God to be ordinary like everyone else. In public, I avoided questions about my sexuality and lied for years because I was afraid of what being out might have meant for my safety and my future. While in the closet, I wrestled vigorously with my faith and my sexuality.
Eventually, I walked away from the Church. After attending a very militant Catholic youth group, I had an epiphany. I asked myself, “Why am I here? So I can be married in a Catholic church? I’m gay, I can’t get married in one either way.” After this realization, I went on a spiritual hiatus and focused on finding the courage to come out. When I finally did, it felt great, but something was missing. I was out of the closet but still felt empty. Despite walking away from the Church, I could not escape my belief in God. I still found myself praying and hearing God’s call to be kind and to serve my community. I renewed my spiritual journey and sought out answers in scripture and with God myself. Contrary to what the religious right may want you to believe, without a native speaker of biblical Hebrew or Saint Paul before you, scripture is unclear on LGBT+ issues. After realizing that there can be an alternative to the narrative of faith as homophobic, I proudly chose to believe in a more loving God.
When asked why I continue to identify as Christian, as Catholic, and as a person of faith, I can only say that it is because I believe my relationship with God stands above it all. I reject the religious right’s notion of God, for it is incompatible with the God I know in my heart and my prayers. I know the Church and religion at large have been a force of fear and trauma for so many of us, but it does not have to be this way. It is not an offense to God to love and live as God made us. It is only a sin to deny who we are and reject God’s design.
Being gay and Christian can be awkward at times, many in the LGBT+ community find it odd and I am constantly forced to defend myself as a “true” Christian. A friend once asked me, “Do gay people even pray?” to which I said, “Yes, of course.” She then asked me, “What do you pray for, forgiveness?” To which I simply said, “Why, yes. Don’t you?” You see, queer people of faith are no different than any other person of faith or any other queer person.
Coming out has brought me closer to God and made me more loving toward others and myself. Whether you be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary or questioning, please know that no one has a monopoly on faith, and no one has the right to deny us God’s grace. It is ours alone to accept and God’s alone to give.
“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:15)