This is a reflective essay I wrote for my English class. Thought I should post it on my blog…
Growing up as a Christian has drastically influenced my self-discovery and self-acceptance process. Up until freshman year, I attended church every Sunday, was involved in four youth groups, attended the VBS programs and when I was too old to attend, I volunteered at them. My first concert was even at a church featuring a famous Christian band. I loved the morals and values that Christianity upholds and I also loved the Christian community. However, I never felt as if I truly belonged in it. The conflicts that I felt within myself caused me to feel miserable and disconnected to God. Christianity did little to offer support and acceptance for what I was feeling; in fact, Christianity led me to hate myself.
Along with of all my activities within church, I used to ardently read the Bible whenever I was struggling with something in my life. If I were fighting with my mom, I would look up passages regarding arguing and mothers. When I felt depressed, I would read passages about depression and sadness. When I was crushing on a girl, I read passages about how homosexuality is wrong. In fact, the teen Bible that my Church had given me had a “Hot Topic” page on homosexuality. This page was the last page in the book. It discussed how society is accepting homosexuality as normal and how Christians need to address the homosexuality “issue” in a compassionate and straightforward manner. It offered me Bible quotes to read that states how homosexual people burn in hell and that fortunately, there is always hope to be heterosexual, to be “normal”. As a girl that was heavily involved in church, I grew up believing that homosexuality was sinful. Because I was unable to even accept homosexuality as acceptable, I was unable to attempt to accept myself. It was not until I ventured into the world independent of God that I was able to begin to tolerate, let alone accept myself.
After my freshman year of high school, I stopped attending church and youth groups, reading the bible, and volunteering, and I began to question Christianity. Initially, questioning the values that I had grown up with was difficult. My sophomore year exemplifies that. I was disgusted with myself for more reasons other than my possible gayness and as a result I was convinced that I did not deserve to have friends. I pushed a lot of my friends away, causing me to feel more alone than how I felt when I initially left the church. I also drastically altered my appearance in the hopes of finding superficial self-acceptance. The self-disgust that I experienced did not relent though. I hated myself because I was alone and unlikeable. I hated myself because I looked worse with my makeover. I hated myself because I was questioning God and unable to talk to my parents about it. Self-hatred is the worst form of hatred that exists. Unlike hating another person, one is unable to walk away from herself. One has to face herself everyday, all the time.
During this period in my life, I read the Bible a lot in search of an answer. God had always said that one is never alone, so why did I feel so alone if He was with me? Maybe He was not with me. Maybe he had abandoned me because I doubted His Word. Maybe feeling alone was my punishment and God was telling me to go back to church, to go back to believing. But I did not want to go back to being an obedient Christian; I desperately wanted to discover myself, and I believed that I would be unable to do that if I went back.
After being reduced to tears in the passenger seat of my mom’s car because of her persistent questioning of my abnormal behavior, I slowly began the process toward self-acceptance. I began to do a lot of research regarding sexuality. It is incredible how many resources there are out there on the Internet. Between YouTube videos and articles, I no longer regarded homosexuality as a wrong thing to be, but as something that is okay. Many of the YouTubers that I saw were confident and proud of who they were, and largely because of them I aspired to become that way too.
The summer before my senior year was a huge transition stage for me. I was still uncomfortable with my attraction for girls, but at least I did not believe that homosexuality is sinful and I was able to admit that I liked girls. The job I got that summer introduced me to many gay women. I went from only seeing one gay male in the halls at school to directly communicating with women whom were gay. I never spoke with these women about their sexuality, but simply being able to connect with some of them and to see how happy they were made me more comfortable with my own sexuality.
At this point in my life, I no longer feel lost, alone, nor do I loathe myself as I used to. After accepting homosexuality as a normal, acceptable thing to be, I have finally been able to come to terms with myself. Now I love who I am and I am thrilled that I have met people that can relate to me. I believe that I was supposed to find the job that I currently have to help me come to terms with myself and to give me some friends that understand how difficult it can be to accept yourself, let alone share your self-discovery with loved ones.
This experience has influenced my connection to God and Christianity, although it is by no means the sole reason that I no longer consider myself a Christian. I was never fully satisfied with myself as a Christian, and once I pulled away from the beliefs, I was more comfortable exploring different aspects of the world and coming to know myself. Granted, it was a struggle when I left Christianity. As a result of the initial feelings of being lost and alone, I desperately hung out with people that were a bad influence and that did not care about me at all. However, because I left Christianity I was able to accept homosexuality, and therefore come to accept myself. Although my personal attitude toward Christianity is negative, I can understand why people are Christian and I respect them. However, I do not believe that Christianity is for everyone, and I think Christianity is not for me.
Looking back at my freshman year and seeing how I have grown and developed into the person that I believe I am meant to be is overwhelming. I feel relieved that I am content with myself and that I finally take pride in who I am. This summer I plan on attending the Pride Parade with friends that I have made that are also part of the LGBTQ community. I am also excited for the next chapter in my life. In college I aspire to major in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, which would expand my knowledge of the various genders and sexualities that exist as well as the empowerment and history of women. There will be a plentiful amount of LGBTQ resources and clubs to get involved in too. I am eager to further grow in the coming years and to see where life will take me next as an out and proud person.