In case you hadn’t guessed from the title, I am part of a small minority that identifies both as queer or LGBTQ+, and as Christian. However, you probably wouldn’t guess that I was a Christian from looking at me. As one of my coworkers from my summer job put it, “you don’t look like a Christian.” She would be correct. My hair is a different color every two months, I have one tattoo with plans to get more and I am queer. Most people would not peg me as a Christian, despite it being as important to my identity as being queer. But when I call myself a queer Christian, it just sounds like an oxymoron, even to myself.
These two parts of my identity are irrevocably connected, yet I often find them at war within myself. Being raised in a conservative church I was taught that being anything but a cisgender heterosexual was a sin, and while Jesus loves everyone, that is a sin. I was homophobic for most of my highschool career. However, when I started to question my own sexual identity, I was unsure of where that set me as a Christian. Was I a bad Christian for loving women as well as men? Did God hate me for something that I couldn’t control? Was the label queer a decision, or was it an integral part of my identity I’d denied for too long?
I felt torn between two communities, both of which had given me so much. Being raised in the church, I had found a solid rock and support. By joining the LGBTQ+ community, I found acceptance of all of me, even when I was confused or unsure. After several months of debate, research and doubting myself;,I reached the conclusion that if the main message of the Bible is love, then why would I be condemned for who I love? In the book of Matthew, chapter 22, Jesus, the Son of God, says that the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second is to love others. He doesn’t say to love God and judge others. He says to love everyone. I found love in Christianity and acceptance in the LGBTQ+ community and both of these have shaped me into the person I am today.
These two communities have such similar goals, yet they are constantly pitted against each other, as if I cannot be both, and must pick one or the other. The whole premise of Christianity is acceptance and love, and yet many churches still find it hard to accept those who differ from them. I have gone to many churches that have taught expressly homophobic sermons, or even just subtextually made me feel excluded or unwelcome in that community. That is what judgement does to a community; it causes those who are not “normal” to feel excluded from the others. However, no one is normal, and these judgemental mindsets only taint the teachings of love that Christianity is supposed to promote.
These two communities should not be at opposition with each other. These two parts of my identity have learned to co-exist, so I have hope that these groups can grow in their similarities and not let judgement and discrimination grow into exclusion. Acceptance and love are two big parts of both these communities, while judgment should have no place. After struggling with these two parts of myself I have come to a place where I can confidently proclaim that, I am here, I am queer,and yes, I am Christian.