Coming Out On High: Queer Love In The Name Of God
I was baptised for the girl I loved.
When I was thirteen, to the great dismay of my family, I came out as a born again Christian. Historically we are a bunch of non-believing sinners. A lineage of questioning intellectuals and spiritual loners who believe in paths, and the universe, and how Love is everything, and how organized religion is everything that Love is not. Needless to say, it was seen as an odd move on my part. And one met with great confusion and, at times, anger. Still, I remained staunchly committed to attending a weekly youth group. I learned the words to the Jesus songs, and I even raised my arms in the air and swayed along side the other kids and young adults when we sang them.
“Lord I lift your name on high.
Lord I love to sing your praises.
I'm so glad you are in my life.”
I sang and sang. And one day, as if by accident, I ended up getting baptized; dunked in a tub for the girl I loved.
K sat in the pew in front of me that day. We’d both been drawn there by the affection and encouragement of a mutual friend and said mutual friend’s god-fearing mom, though it was really my affection for K that kept me enthusiastically returning. K was a newcomer to the church and I was her frequent guest, dropping in on a close-knit crowd that was dedicated to the kind of worship that’s played on an electric guitar by a young man in ripped jeans and a leather jacket. This crowd loved a Cool Jesus. They worshipped a Hip Jesus. A Whatevs Jesus who disguised intolerance and hyper conservatism with hip-hop dances, and sheet cakes, and high fives.
“Jesus loves you Man!”
There were dances and parties, and movie nights and snacks, and lots of invitations for future parties and dances and movie nights. And, there was prayer. And singing. Lots of singing. K always seemed genuinely into it. Like she was there for God. Like she believed in her saving. Like she’d been handed a ticket that might help her bypass suffering, for life. She liked the people, and she was convincing in her worship. She was there for God. I was there for her. This was always clear to me, but my heartsick never eased. So, when the youth pastor announced that day that newcomers would have a chance to be saved the following Sunday by way of the church alter-tub… when K turned to me with the enthusiasm and passion of an overcome lover and asked if I’d get saved with her, I could think of only one answer. Yes. Yes, I will absolutely of course get saved with you. Of course of course of course. Yes. Praise Jesus.
I don’t really remember telling my best friend that year about being gay, although I know I did at some point. And my step-sister knew before that- another important occasion that I can’t quite recall. The truth is I don’t really remember ever coming out. It was as if one day I wasn’t, then one day I was. More like picking up an entirely new book than turning the page in a single one. I’m not sure I ever uttered the words I’m gay even once, and, although those words were true ones (I’m a gold star after all), their shape and essence have never felt quite right on me. They didn’t at thirteen, and they often still don’t today. Suppressed gay shame. My interest in being more than a label. A general discomfort with that which suggests the sex in sexuality. Whatever the reason, with K, in church, singing to a God I didn’t believe in, I found the language of worship a more palatable vernacular than the words that spoke the truth of myself. And, though I could surmise a kind of tragic-ness in that, what I see instead is a young girl more interested in getting on with love than getting too seriously into herself. Plainly put, get the girl first, ask questions later. I don’t know that that’s right, but it sure seemed right then. So right that getting dunked, being saved, praising our Lord on high was bizarrely easy, albeit totally dishonest, to say the least.
The moral of this story? You tell me! As I am sure you might guess, this lesbian is not a practicing Born Again Christian. She’s not even a God fearing lady. She’s a spiritual loner who believes in paths, and the universe, and how Love is everything. She’s a lover of love who finds it both hysterical and a small point of pride that her middle school crush took her all the way to the alter, and into the holy water. Praise be, and glory to the God of girls.