Browsing Tag

marriage equality

Feminism, Social Issues

but Jesus never mentioned gay people

A few years ago, a friend of mine put up a link on Facebook with the a title something like “Every Verse Where Jesus Talks about Homosexuality.” Puzzled, I clicked through … only to get a completely blank page, with nothing but the title. And some ads, because, y’know, capitalism. I laughed, especially when I saw a number of confused people commenting on the facebook post, wondering why the page wouldn’t load. I think it’s one of the few click-bait articles I’ve ever enjoyed, mostly because I enjoy pointed humor.

But, while I enjoyed the joke, I’ve always been bothered by people who attempt to make this argument seriously, and why as much as I appreciate Matthew Vines‘ work, I’m curious how sustainable an approach like “the Bible doesn’t truly address sexual orientation” actually is. While on a personal level I find the interpretations offered by people like Dr. Brownson encouraging and compelling, I’m wondering if perhaps they’re starting the argument in the wrong place.

I don’t think the problem with the conservative Christian approach to LGBT people is their interpretation of the “clobber passages” like Romans 1. I think the problem is that they are approaching the whole work of Scripture with a heteronormative lens; except, in the case of conservative Christians they don’t see heteronormativity as a social construct but as a holy and inspired part of Scripture.

When I read the Bible and notice that there’s an awful lot of husbands and wives, I attribute that to heteronormativity. Yes it’s “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” but that doesn’t mean anything significant concerning my sexual orientation. Just because biblical writers  included Mary and Joseph, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Leah and Rachel, Abraham and Sarah, Elizabeth and Zachariah, et al, doesn’t automatically lead to the conclusion that God intended for only straight couples to be blessed and for all gay couples to be condemned as an abomination. It was just “a matter of course” for the writers, just like nearly every single romance novel in Barnes & Noble features straight people.

It was the way the writers saw the world, and now we as a society have progressed. Gay people and their relationships are more visible now, and we’re starting to see this reflected in our media, like in Glee or Modern Family. I am hopeful that one day it will be a completely normal thing for a major epic fantasy series to lead with a queer protagonist, just like I’m hopeful that books with female leads won’t be considered “for girls only” or “chick lit” someday.

However, for the conservative Christian, this view of the relationships and marriages in the Bible puts me solidly into the territory of “not respecting the Bible.” Many Christians hold to positions like inerrancy and infallibility and inspiration, and when you combine all of that in the typical evangelical, what you’re going to get is someone who believes that heterosexual marriage is sacrosanct and the only kind ordained by God … because, in the Bible, that’s certainly true. There are no gay marriages in the Bible, and no one is ever going to convince a conservative Christian that David and Jonathan where gay for each other.

Because, to someone who has a “high view of Scripture,” nothing it includes– or excludes– is an accident. It is perfect, flawless, without error, and unquestionably right. About everything. And if the Bible doesn’t feature a gay couple, it must mean that gay marriage isn’t permitted. I’m pretty convinced that with this attitude, even if the Bible didn’t have a single verse about “a man lying with a man is an abomination,” conservatives would still fight against marriage equality.

I don’t think this attitude is insurmountable– this isn’t the first time that conservative Christians have thought this way about an issue (*coughslaverycough*). I think that the arguments that Vines and Brownson are making can be extremely helpful in starting conversations about LGBT equality, and hopefully some will receive some illumination about the heterosexism they’re carrying around with them as they try to interpret different passages. But, ultimately, I think that’s what should come first, and I think the Christian LGBT-and-ally community should be much more deliberate about confronting this.

Which is why I’m somewhat troubled with the attempt to use a supposedly “high view of Scripture” in these discussions, because I used to be squarely in that camp and personally, if Matthew Vines had told me he had a “high view of Scripture,” I would have laughed in his face. I wouldn’t have known exactly why I would have been so utterly convinced that he didn’t honor the Bible the way I did, but I would have felt that way all the same. Conversations about LGBT equality in Christian environments will necessarily involve — at least on some level– a critique of certain passages in the same way an egalitarian looks at “women be silent in church”or “I do not permit a woman to teach.”

The default of the Bible is sexist and heteronormative. It … just is. I appreciate all the amazing work so many scholars have done over the years to mitigate all of that. I love feminist and queer theologies, egalitarian interpretations, and the work of so many liberationist theologians. There is much beauty and value and richness and depth in this library, so much shared history and tradition. But, when I read the Bible, I do have to set aside its more problematic elements– especially the fact that the people who wrote it were misogynistic and heterosexist.

Until conservative Christians can do that, I’m not certain that the anti-LGBT-equality movement will truly die.

Photo by Argya Diptya

Social Issues

opening the door to an affirming church?

Where I live, there are no LGBT-affirming churches. Most are outright hostile, and the ones that aren’t still preach from the pulpit that wanting to be in a loving relationship is a sin for a significant number of people. It’s just a deeply conservative area when it comes to religion, and because of that, I’ve been having a hard time finding a church. My politics and my theology puts me squarely outside what’s acceptable here … and occasionally that’s a little heartbreaking. I want so badly to be a part of a church, but nowhere feels at all safe.

Which is one of the reasons why I decided to attend The Reformation Project’s (TRP) Regional Training Conference in DC last weekend. I’ve recommended Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian, and he’s the founder of TRP.  I don’t agree with Matthew on a lot of things, but his theological positions put him in a unique place when it comes to “the gay debate“: he agrees that abstinence before marriage is a requirement for Christians, and he has what conservative evangelicals call “a high view of Scripture.” Those two things enable him to have conversations that a person like me can’t really have with conservative Christians.

And, because of where I live, if I’m going to be able to have conversations with pretty much anyone, I have to be able to have a conversation the way that Matthew would have it. I don’t personally believe the same things about the Bible that the people around me might believe, but what I can do is work with where they are. There’s a way to see the “clobber verses” in a new light– and, personally, I find arguments like Brownson’s and Matthew’s pretty convincing.

I wrote a reflection of my experiences at the conference for Convergent Books, Matthew’s publisher, that you can read here.

Photo by GF Peck
Feminism, Social Issues

Five Answers from a Christian who Believes the Bible Supports Marriage Equality

marriage equality

Kevin DeYoung has asked people like me these five questions (DoNotLink). I’m assuming he didn’t intend for them to be rhetorical.

On what basis do you still insist that marriage must be monogamous?

Considering the fact that all of the passages that have traditionally been interpreted as having to do with same-sex behavior have nothing whatsoever to do with marriage, I do not even know what this question is here for. We’re re-evaluating six passages based on information a lot of us didn’t have before. That’s it.

Kevin argues that you can only construct an argument for monogamy based on a complementarian understanding of marriage, but considering that gender complementarity is a patriarchal concept and has been used to oppress and subjugate women for 2,000 years . . . yup. Not buying it, Kevin. I have an egalitarian, monogamous marriage and I don’t need gender essentialism in order for my marriage to reflect the image depicted in Scripture.

I’m going to be honest: Kevin does not seem to understand that there are things to base a system of ethics on besides “a supernatural being told me not to do this.” And, honestly, if that is the only thing you’re basing your ethics on . . . a supernatural being told a king to commit genocide. To slaughter every single infant. Having your only criteria for whether something is moral be “God said _____” is dangerous.

Saying that the gender (and the gender roles) of the people committing to a marriage before God doesn’t matter doesn’t mean we’re not still aiming for the kind of marriage described in the New Testament.

Will you maintain the same biblical sexual ethic in the church now that you think the church should solemnize gay marriages?

Kevin’s premise for this question is that “infidelity [is] rampant in homosexual relationships.” He gets this from a book called Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth, which he says references a single study that proves how unfaithful gay men are. A lot of the book can be previewed, but all I can see is the book’s summary, and not the citation. I couldn’t find the study based on the information given, which seems awfully convenient. Also, citing someone else’s citation, Kevin? That is intellectually lazy.

First of all, there is a difference between open relationships and infidelity. One is about communication, honesty, and trust, and the other one is about deceit, manipulation, and trust-breaking. Conflating these two means that Kevin is being a) dishonest, or is he is b) ignorant.

Kevin also says “biblical sexual ethic” like that means anything specific. When I read what the New Testament has to say about sexual relationships, what I consistently see portrayed is don’t exploit people who cannot consent.

Don’t think that’s what Kevin thinks a “biblical sexual ethic” is, though. Maybe he means “if you rape someone, pay her father $20 bucks and marry her.”

Are you prepared to say moms and dads are interchangeable?

People are not interchangeable based on the fact that they are human beings. I don’t need my parents to adhere to a specific set of patriarchal gender roles in order to have a “family unit.” Parents should be able to find the roles and responsibilities that works for their family, and they shouldn’t have to be judged for those decisions based on cultural constructs.

What will you say about anal intercourse?

Heterosexual couples have butt sex all the time. There are specific set of concerns, which are the following:

  • Get tested. If you have an infection, get it treated.
  • If it touches your butt, it doesn’t touch your vagina. Or your mouth.
  • Butts are a little more fragile. Take your time. Use plenty of water-based lube.
  • Wear a condom.

Kevin also makes the claim that having butt sex—all on its own, with no other factor—increases your risk for anal cancer by 4,000 percent. He bases that claim on data that is 32 years old, where a few researchers looked at a database for syphilitic patients. They only used patients with syphilis as their data points. Again, either Kevin is ignorant, or he is being deliberately misleading.

Here’s the study, by the way. Because I don’t rely on what other people cite in their bigoted books for my information, when at all possible. I also don’t make it difficult for people to find the information I’m citing because that’s, again, dishonest.

How have all Christians at all times and in all places interpreted the Bible so wrongly for so long?

I don’t know. Why don’t you ask the 12.5 million Africans sold into slavery in the Western Hemisphere? Or the 4 million people owned by Americans in 1860—whose slavery was justified by their interpretation of the Bible?

Feminism, Social Issues

"God and the Gay Christian" by Matthew Vines

vines book cover

I’ve posted Matthew Vine’s video “The Gay Debate” before, and I’m planning to watch it with my small group this Thursday. The first time I watched it, I was deeply compelled by the idea he opened his talk with: that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit. To me, the idea was remarkably similar to something Augustine said:

Whoever, then, thinks that he understands the Holy Scriptures, or any part of them, but puts such an interpretation upon them as does not tend to build up this twofold love of God and our neighbor, does not yet understand them as he ought.

I appreciated this emphasis on the consequences of what we believe and teach, and I’ve tried to incorporate it as I’ve been delving into my theology. If my “theology tree” would result in harm and damage to people, then I really need to re-think it and maybe go and plant another tree.

I did feel, however, that the video, while effective, wasn’t complete. There are limits to what a videotaped talk can do, and it left with me more questions than I had answers. I started looking into what Vines’ opponents had to say in response, and while their counterarguments were lacking, they did raise some important points.

When I found out that Vines would be writing God and the Gay Christian (set to release April 22), I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I knew that a book was a much better format for his argument, and I thought it might answer some of the questions I still had.

It’s a well-researched book, but obviously not exhaustive– or exhausting. While a book like Torn helps illuminate the reality of being both a Christian and gay, God and the Gay Christian moves just beyond that and gives a substantive argument for why the two are not just compatible, but healthy and good. By the time I set it down, I was absolutely convinced: being gay is not a sin. Being gay and being in a relationship is not a sin. Sex between same-sex partners is not inherently sinful, although Vines takes the traditional evangelical stance of reserving sex for marriage.

One of the most interesting things about reading this was the approach he took– very often, people who believe that God doesn’t condemn a gay person who wants to be in a relationship are accused of “dismissing” or “ignoring” the Bible. It happened here on my blog last week– I was told that I was “cherry picking” Bible verses because I was obviously ignoring what the Bible had to say about homosexuality. I insisted that I was not ignoring the presence of those passages, but that I did not agree with the “typical” interpretation of those passages. Vines could never be accused of not taking the Bible seriously or of ignoring the passages (although I’m positive some people will still try to say exactly that), since the book is devoted to those verses.

But, more importantly than that, Vines has something I certainly don’t: a traditional evangelical “high” view of Scripture as inspired and inerrant. I lost that a long time ago, so it was fascinating to watch him unfold his argument from that perspective– and it helped me feel more comfortable with those who also believe in inspiration and inerrancy. It helped reassure me that just because someone believes that the Bible is “inerrant” it doesn’t mean they’re going to fling it around like a weapon.

I think the one issue that I have with the book is that I personally feel that it participates in bi erasure. Just like there are only so many things you can do in a video, there are also only so many things you can do in a book, but I think one element of his argument is troubling, and since it’s a rather core part of his argument, it’s worth mentioning.

Vines points out that, historically speaking, sexuality wasn’t understood in terms of orientation, and that ancient societies tended to perceive sexuality as a matter of appetite. Men who had sex with other men weren’t gay– they were seeking “more challenging” experiences in order to satiate an enormous appetite for sex. Vines argues that was a central part of what Paul, especially, was writing about: not orientation, but excessive and uncontrollable (possibly abusive or exploitative) appetites.

In the midst of presenting all of that, however, he spends a lot of time talking about how ancient Greek society saw everyone as being capable of wanting sex with opposite-sex and same-sex partners, and how that was generally understood to be a result of excess. In bringing that up, he does nothing to mention that bisexuality, just like gayness, doesn’t correspond to that model. Being bisexual is just as much a matter of orientation as being gay or lesbian, and it has absolutely nothing to do with being “greedy”– which is a common misconception hurled at bi people.

He doesn’t actively lump in bi people with that historical conception, but that conception lingers today, and he didn’t address it at all. I personally felt that he did what straight people commonly do; being bi isn’t a part of his lived experience, so he . . . just forgot. This is not an egregious failing and I still think his book needs to be read and shared and discussed, but it bothered me.

There is, however, something I really appreciated about Vines’ approach. I just finished reading Boyd’s Benefit of the Doubt, and one of the central focuses of the book is reading the Bible not as a legal contract but as an illustration of the covenantal, trust-based relationship God wants to have with us. I think God and the Gay Christian is an excellent example of how to do that– even with his “high view of Scripture,” he wrote out a way for us to stop seeing the Bible as a legal contract to constrain our behavior and put boundaries on our relationships, but as the open, loving, give-and-take conversation with God that it was intended to be.

That all said, I think God and the Gay Christian needs to go on every Christian’s to-read shelf. I think that the biggest reason why bigotry seems to be such an integral part of the evangelical cultural experience is simply because many people have never encountered what Vines argues. Not everyone is going to be convinced, of course, but at least they’d be more aware– hopefully they’d even stop telling people like me that we’re “clearly ignoring the Bible” and understand that there is more than one way to interpret the Bible, even when it comes to LGBTQIA persons and their lives.

*edit: I talked to Vines, and he said that one of the things he tried to correct in the final version was about my concern here– I only have the ARC, so I haven’t read the final version.

Social Issues

I didn’t stand up for my gay friend. I still regret it.

I met Michael* when I was fifteen, at a summer music camp. We didn’t become best buds, but we did become friends, and that friendship stayed in place when we went to the same college three years later. We were in the same degree program, and had nearly every core class together. We never became “tight,” but we did help each other out. We’d take over for each other when a particular soloist we accompanied had become just too much, and we always made sure to give each other a boost in the sea of criticism that could be the music program at times. We had eachother’s back.

I knew Michael was gay from the day I met him, but it didn’t matter. He was my friend. He didn’t come out to me until a few years ago, but I’ve always treasured his friendship, and the day he came out to me, I treasured his honesty for the gift it was.


Four years ago today, I remember the whispers.

My college campus was small– around 4,500 students, total, so it wasn’t that difficult to at least recognize everyone even if you didn’t know him or her. I knew the names of everyone in my major– and I knew the names of most of those who were studying speech, art, or music. It was a small, tight-nit community. We were hard on each other, as the competition could get intense. When two sopranos go for the same lead in a musical… that’s not something you want to witness. But, we were close. Friendly, even, when there weren’t any auditions.

Our tight-nit community, however, was a strangely public one. We were the performers on campus. The college had a bazillion required activities, and most of them were Arts related. There were vespers, where the speech and music major would put on an hour-long religious spectacle. There was the once-a-semester Gilbert and Sullivan extravaganza.

Then, there was church.

Attending the college’s church was mandatory. You could “check in sick” and skip church, but you’d be required to attend a video recording of it the next Saturday, so most people rarely “checked in” on Sunday. They put up with the monotonous, televised, rote-like-clockwork service and then took a nap. However, music majors were required to perform at least once, sometimes twice, in church– for a grade. A few of us got “famous” that way. There was the impressively deep bass singer who became famous for singing “Mary, Did you Know?” There was the spectacularly talented young man that everyone knew, and simply being a peripheral friend made you popular by association.

It was eleven weeks before we were all supposed to graduate. We were working on our shows and our recitals like deranged maniacs whose life depended on this single, solitary event (it rather did). We were all losing our minds in one way or another, and trying to get each other through this grueling process.

So when two of my friends in the music program were “kicked out,” many of the music majors were left feeling bereft. These two young men had been two of the most supportive people in the program. In an environment where backbiting and maliciousness can sometimes run amok, losing the positive influence of these two. . . it wasn’t devastating, but they were missed.

Over my years at this college, I’d known a lot of people who got “kicked out.” Some reasons “made sense,” after a fashion. Sometimes that person “obviously deserved it” because they’d committed some heinous violation that was quite obviously against the rules you just don’t go around breaking– like my roommates who persisted in having some strange version of threesome phonesex on speaker while I was in the room (getting them kicked out hadn’t been my goal– I’d just wanted a new room, ‘cuz that was uncomfortable. However, I’d had to explain why I wanted a new room, so...) Sometimes the reason was absolutely ridiculous– like the young man who got kicked out for “disturbing a public gathering”– he threw a paper airplane before a church service started. Sometimes the reason was absolutely insane– like one girl who got kicked out for kissing her boyfriend over the summer when she was not on campus, leaving a love letter in her boyfriend’s mailbox, and the boyfriend’s ex going through his mail and then turning the new girlfriend in. The ex-girlfriend was rewarded for her faithfulness to the school, even though she’d committed a felony to do it.

However serious or ridiculous the reason was, long story short, the people on campus usually knew what it was. It’s difficult to keep secrets, and the kicking-out process in a brutalizing, time-consuming thing. By the time that person is kicked out, the Scarlet A is fixed in place.

But for my friends… no one really knew why.

So, the rumors started.

And, because they were music majors, most of the rumors had to do with their sexual orientation. The Arts already made a man “effeminate” by default, and in fundamentalism, “effeminate” is a hair’s breadth short of being “rainbow gay.”

I was in my first-hour class the first time I heard one of the rumors. Supposedly, the two men had gotten caught making out in a maintenance closet.


I was five the first time I ever stood up to a bully. There was a black boy a few doors down from me, and he was constantly getting picked on by a group of three older white boys. Looking back, I’m pretty sure one of the boy’s father was a white supremacist– but when I was five, I had no idea what racism was. All I knew was that they were picking on him, and that was mean. I stood up for him one day– and ended up with gum in my hair, spit in my eye, and sand in my underwear. I spent every day for the rest of that summer hiding underneath the playground equipment– with the boy I’d stood up for.

My tendency to bite off more than I could chew in defense of someone I cared about, or who I felt didn’t deserve it, only got stronger as I got older. I punched three separate boys at 8, 11, and 14 for daring to make fun of by baby sister. I told off Richard* who was making fun of George* because of his last name. I befriended a little girl in kindergarten who had a port wine stain and no one else would talk to her. I slapped the boy I had a crush on in first grade because he’d knocked over my block tower for being “taller than his.”

But four years at a fundamentalist Christian college had silenced me.

When that belligerent, bigoted young man started hootin’ and hollerin’ about my friends, I said nothing. I sat in my chair, kept my eyes fixed squarely on the front of the room, and remained silent.

That silence felt like it was burning me from the inside out. I desperately wanted to march to the back of that room and give him a big, loud, angry piece of my mind. I wanted to slap him for airing his bigotry. I wanted to tell every person who was laughing exactly who they were laughing at, and that no one deserved that. I wanted to tell them all that what they were doing was wrong.

I didn’t. I didn’t say anything over the next few weeks as the rumors became more flagrant.

I was afraid. Afraid of the administration coming after me for defending him. I was afraid that they would suspect that I knew Michael was gay, and that they would kick me out, too, for not turning him in years ago, like I should have– like the rules required me to. I was afraid that if I defended him, that some of the people who knew me would judge me for not “taking a stance against sin.”

I was afraid of myself.

I lived in doubt for those weeks– wasn’t I supposed to be shocked and horrified by his sin? Wasn’t I supposed to agree that the administration had done the right thing by kicking him out? Wasn’t I supposed to be happy that “the truth had found him out”?

Conflicted doesn’t begin to explain what I was feeling. I missed my friend– one of the only people who had a kind word for me after I’d survived another terrifying performance. I missed the person who agreed to usher my recital, and was there for me when I finally came offstage and instantly collapsed.

And I was ashamed for not being brave enough– to not being who I knew I’ve always been. For not defending him. For not speaking up against all the wrong.

So, today, four years later, I’m apologizing, Michael– and I promise it won’t happen again.

Photo by Hamed Parham
Social Issues

the power of "it’s only" and how privilege hides

My junior year in college, I applied to work at the brand-new Kohl’s that had opened about twenty-five minutes away from my house. On my application, I told them that my availability didn’t start until the end of the school year, in May, but there was somehow a mix-up and I had to start in early February. Kohl’s was about and hour and a half away from school– so, three or four times a week, I drove from school to work, worked until around midnight, drove home, did my homework, and then got up five hours later to make the drive back to school.

It was crazy and I about burned myself out, but working there taught me one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned:

I was homophobic.

Growing up, when I’d heard a conservative evangelical being accused of homophobia, the response was typically dismissal. “I’m not homophobic,” they’d say. “I just don’t agree with their lifestyle. I’m not afraid of them. I can love the sinner, hate the sin.”

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Heavens could I spend three days talking about how utterly preposterous that statement is. How very wrong and misguided it is. That statement just is a justification for hate, and that’s all it can be. I know so many people who regularly use that, and these are, in general, kind and loving people. But not when it comes to the LGBT community (which, in general, evangelicals refuse to recognize, because it’s complicated. Instead, they tend to lump everyone under the heading “gay” because being “gay” is a philosophical and ideological otherness to heterosexuality). You put an IFB person next to someone who identifies as gay, or trans, or bi, and they may be able to muster up a cheerful facade of niceness, but I guarantee you they are cringing inside.

But, back to Kohl’s.

Working at Kohl’s is how I met David*. I’ve never said any of these things to David, and I wish I had.

David was kind, and fierce, and bold. He was vivacious, energetic, loving, rambunctious, fun-loving. I never heard him be frustrated with the people he worked with, and he was proud to be all who he was. Being gay was a small part of that, for him. It was just one piece of the incredibly complex puzzle that was the personhood, the identity, of David. I loved working the same shift as him, and getting to know him, because never, not once, did he make me feel inferior. He knew I was a Christian, he probably knew what that meant– that I was secretly judging him.

And I did.

At first.

Until, one day, I was talking about my wedding plans with another girl in the breakroom, and David was there. There we were, talking about dresses and flowers and cake and music, when I looked over, and what I saw on his face stopped me dead in my tracks.


The expression on his face was almost grieving. I asked him if he was ok, and his response changed my world forever:

“Y’know, I’ve been with my boyfriend for five years, and we’re probably never going to be able to get married.”

The other girl suggested that they could just have the wedding shin-dig, what does a piece of paper matter anyway?

But, instinctively and intuitively, I realized that it’s “only a piece of paper” to people who can get one. I met David’s eyes, and I knew he was thinking the same thing. That realization changed me, because, for the first time, I could put myself in the footsteps of a stranger– or an existence so far removed from my own that I’d never bothered to understand it.

I thought about what it would be like if I was constantly being told by my entire society and culture that I couldn’t get married, legally. That 31 states had decided that my existence was too strange, too uncomfortable, for them to allow in the open freely.

It was horrifying.


A few weeks later, at about six o’clock in the morning, everyone is on hand to unload the truck for the spring change. I’m working in the young men’s section when I pull out the brightest purple skinny jeans I had ever seen in my life. They were neon purple, and sparkly. Looking at them made me flinch they were so fluorescent. I double-checked the box– these looked like they belonged in the junior’s section, not the young men’s. But, no, the code on the box said they were for young men. I just shrugged and started putting them on their rack.

Two women commented on the jeans, tossing out exclamations like “who in the world do they think is going to wear these?”

Another young lady, who had gone to the local Christian high school and had made sure everyone knew about it, said:

“I bet freaking David would.” The way she said his name made it sound like a curse word.

As she said that, and as everyone laughed, I met David’s eyes over her shoulder, who had just gotten back from break. There was a flash of embarrassment, and shame, and then I saw him steel himself.

“‘Freaking’ David would do what, exactly?” He asked, in one of the best examples of courage I’ve ever seen.


That was a beginning, for me. A few years later, when one of my close friends told me he was bi, I was still struggling with my ingrained perceptions. I still do, to be honest. It’s not easy. But, I was so glad that he felt safe enough with me to show me another part of who he was– a part of himself I could have attacked.

But, it really came home to me just a few months ago, when I started identifying as a feminist, and a few things started happening to me. In IFB and conservative evangelical culture, being a feminist and being LGBT are, while not equivalent, similar— because, for many conservative evangelicals, being a feminist means rebelling against and attacking what it means to be a “woman.” Feminists are going against nature, against God’s ordained order. We’re refusing to recognize the way things are “supposed” to be. Similarly, although on a different scale, the LGBT community are also “going against nature.”

But, I also started realizing that I had experienced marginalization my entire life, even though I don’t belong to a minority. I had been told, because of who I am, because of my gender, what I simply could and couldn’t do. What I couldn’t wear, where I couldn’t go, who I couldn’t speak to, how I should speak, how I should walk, talk, dress, eat, and sleep. That I couldn’t be employed. Where my natural “area of dominion” was, and that was only at home, and only over my future children– but an area of authority that was only granted by my husband and could be superseded at any moment. That I was the property of a man, that I lacked ability, talent, and skill– because of who I am.

It’s maddening. It is the most infuriating thing I have ever encountered, and it pales in comparison to what the LGBT community goes through every single day of their lives.