CONTENT WARNING: This post contains mention of mental health, religious adversity, discrimination and violence against LGBTQ individuals. Reader discretion is strongly advised. Any abuse will be sent straight to the spam folder! Also, I wrote this at 3am, so if there’s some incoherent waffling, I do apologise!
The last two weeks have not been easy. I’ve cried, panicked and cried again. A lot. I guess I could say I’ve had something that would be generally called a ‘crisis of faith’.
For those of you who don’t know, I resonate with agnosticism. However I’ve come to terms recently with the fact that I do, in fact, and have for a while, have some manner of faith.
Reading Bible verses and devotionals got me through a pretty trying time in the last few months with my mental health. I find reading religious texts across all faiths not only educational, but spritually enriching. So what gives?
It’s simple. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that quite a few (not all, no generalisations here) people who follow different faiths don’t like people like me. And by people like me, I mean people under the LGBTQ umbrella.
Though I’ve said many times that I’m not overly fond of labels, I’ve felt more comfortable over the last few months saying I am a bisexual woman. That’s who I am. I understand there is a debate about bisexuality and pansexuality, so if you want to call me a pansexual, feel free too. Either way I’m under that umbrella. As long as you’re not being nasty, we’re cool. But if I have to choose (a bisexual choosing?! *Gasps*) that’s what I say if it comes up in conversation or anyone asks. Or I’m taking the piss out of myself on Twitter. Yeah, I do that a lot.
Anyway, love is love and as long as you’re a good person, I really couldn’t care less. Whew, still figuring an awful lot of yourself out in this manner as an adult is exhausting. Lord knows how we did in our teens!
However there is one label given to us by certain individuals and institutions that I do have a problem with:
Along with the other awful slurs that come with it. Your ability to love, live a good life and even your ability to be a good parent is questioned and attacked just because of who you may or may not love. And unfortunately as we all know to well, in many parts of the world can be subjected to violence and death. It truly breaks my heart.
I know what some of you are thinking: Why are you so caught up in this? Who cares about what they think? And I’d agree, who cares? You do you. But reconciling one’s fluctuating faith with one’s identity, when many interpretations of i.e Christianity, can be so against your very existence, is bloody difficult. It’s not uncommon to feel like you have to choose between your faith and your sexuality. Both are integral parts of me; why should I have to?
As mentioned before, I don’t wish to generalise religion and religious people, which is very easy to do. I know people of faith who are very supportive of equality and LGBTQ rights. For example, my mother’s church is very open and accepting of people from all walks of life and are some of the kindest people you could ever hope to meet.
Faith aside, I love going into churches for their architecture, their history and if I like, just to be in the silence and calm in the pews. It’s relaxing and I go into an almost meditative state at times.
But going to church or another place of worship, where you have no qualms with your personal faith (as far as I’m concerned, me and the G-man are cool. He made me like this after all) but knowing some of the congregation would turn on you if they knew, in a place where you want to grow and is meant to be safe, is a truly horrid sentiment.
That includes the ‘hate the sin and not the sinner argument’ and/or that we need to ‘repent’ for our apparent sin. Personally, I find that just plain patronising. All I hear is ‘I don’t hate you, I just hate you.’ Loving someone, gender regardless, is certainly no sin to me. And it’s certainly not a choice or ‘lifestyle’. And if love is a sin, I’d much rather ‘burn in Hell’ like some like to remind us at Pride events, or at family weddings and barbecues. Plus if so, that means Freddie Mercury’s down there too, so it’d be one hell of a party!
Having said that, I wouldn’t expect everyone in these circles to understand or be completely fine with it. Despite what I may believe, I know there are many who do not share my stance. I’ve come across plenty of people who either can’t get their heads around it or have differences, but say ‘hey, you do you.’ And while that’s not entirely ideal, they take the approach of not judging or treating me or anyone else differently. ‘Do not judge lest ye be judged’ and all.
And to be frank, sometimes that’s the best you can hope for, and I can live with that. Conversation with the people we don’t see eye to eye with is important, in order for progression to take place. But unfortunately, as we know, there is an awful lot of hatred that needs to be addressed. Hurling abuse at someone or worse is never OK.
I want to clarify, apart from my immediate family, a few close friends and you guys, no one else knows about my sexuality. While it may come across like I shout it from the rooftops, in reality I don’t.
One, because I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world and an area where most just don’t care. Second, because unless you are dear to me or sharing a bed with me, it’s no one else’s business. Third, because while it’s generally safe in the UK to not be straight, it’s for my safety (let’s face it, you never know how some will react) and to save myself from ridiculous, ‘Prove it, kiss that random woman’ or ‘So, you want to have a threesome with me?’ comments. I can have banter with my friends where we good-naturedly take the piss out of each other, but those who genuinely mean it? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
However, it’s nice to find somewhere where if you want to practice your faith, whatever that may be, where you feel like you may belong. For me, this falls along the lines of Quakerism and Unitarianism. And yes, you can be both.
Faith aside, a lot of the teachings, particularly Unitarian teachings of togetherness, is something I have always resonated with since being a young child. Basically the ‘can’t we all just get along?’ of faith (or lack thereof, there atheist Unitarians as well), community and embracing social progression, including LGBTQ rights. They were even some of the first to perform same sex marriages and civil partnerships, even before they were fully legalised in the USA and UK.
I’ve always felt like this, but only fully realised that my beliefs do in fact, have a name. Not that it majorly matters, as being as good a person is what matters regardless of one’s backgrounds. Like many however, my approach to faith helps me try to achieve that.
Plus, what I love is that I’ve always felt no matter what place of worship I am in, I can still connect to that deeply spiritual headspace that comes with the quiet stillness of these places.
While I can’t definitively say, ‘Yes I am this and that’ at present, if asked, I’ll quite happily say that I take a somewhat Quakerish Unitarian approach to my faith. Predominantly, I follow teachings from Christianity (let’s face it, Jesus was pretty awesome) along with egalitarian and spiritual teachings in the Quran, and Jewish approaches to finding God in everyday life, to name a few. I believe that there is something good to be learned from every faith, or agnosticism or atheism, obviously along with science and critical thinking.
So while it’s not been easy by any stretch to come to terms with my faith and identity, I’m glad I’ve found some part of the world where I say ‘yeah, you’re my people.’ 😊