Category Archives: Gay Christian Life Stories

A Jennifer Knapp Concert and Hello Sarah Peacock!

Sarah Peacock

Sarah Peacock

So. This post is a bit overdue. I’ve been busy.
One morning in March, I opened my eyes in my brand new (to me) house and pulled up my twitter feed. Jennifer Knapp happened to tweet about a concert in a city not super far from me that night. I looked at my calendar. I considered my to do list. And I hopped on the internet to order myself a ticket. There would be no friends at this concert. The one friend I would be comfortable attending a Jennifer Knapp concert with was way too busy for a last minute concert.

I made the trip to the concert venue. There was a pit stop at IKEA and fast food for dinner, but finally I arrived. At a small low-tech venue. I purchased a beer from the bar and settled into my 2nd row center seat. As I waited for the show to start, I observed my peers. Let’s just say the women outnumbered the men by a lot. I noted that the opening act was listed on some posters of other concerts so I figured she must be some local fil-in when they couldn’t get anyone else to open a show. Hopefully she wouldn’t suck too bad and Jennifer would be on stage soon.

Finally the lights dimmed and my jaw dropped. To understand my shock, you have to understand that I have fallen into a serious style rut. I wear a plaid flannel shirt and corduroy pants every day. During the winter I topped it off with a puffy black vest. I also have been debating chopping off my curly brown hair. Well, Sarah Peacock walked out to the stage in corduroy pants, a plaid shirt, and a black leather vest with short curls flopping around on her head. She’s way prettier than I am, but she was totally in my style range. My gaydar began pinging.

One of the highlights of her show was when she mentioned that she is in recovery – she’s a recovering Southern Baptist. “Still a Christian, unapologetically, but a recovering Southern Baptist.” Omg YES. And the 50 or so of us in the audience cheered. I am not the only one who understands that. In that moment I had hope that perhaps I might actually find others who understand that faith is really important to me, usually, but faith people are really hard sometimes.

Jennifer Knapp was great. As always. I think I might like her better without the polished CCM band behind her.

I think what I liked best about the whole evening was that for the first time I was in a space with other lesbians and it didn’t matter if they knew it. Sure I was sitting by myself. But if I want to take a girl next time Sarah Peacock is playing, I could. And no one would judge.

I now own every Sarah Peacock song available on iTunes, follow her eagerly on twitter, and plan to attend another show soon. She’s got songs that make sense to this former conservative, songs that I’d sing to a girl to express my love, songs that talk about how frustrating life can be. Just like with Jennifer Knapp, I feel like I can put on Sarah Peacock and know that there’s not going to be a song that’s makes me feel excluded because I’m not straight.  I’ve googled her quite a bit, and she seems like the kind of person I’d get along with.  She never talks about a girlfriend or a partner, but she’s definitely got a lesbian fan base for a reason!

Go listen and buy her stuff. Please. She’s awesome.

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Visit to an Affirming Church

 

"Altar.stmaryredcliffe.arp". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Altar.stmaryredcliffe.arp“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Been pretty busy lately, hiking and all, but I did finally decide to visit a church.  I figured it was time for me to visit an affirming church because at least at an affirming church I would not be subject to cheap shots from the pulpit aimed at drumming up support by slamming the LGBTQ people who certainly wouldn’t be willingly sitting at that church.  I figured that most churches that are affirming don’t actually preach sermons about gay people, so even though I haven’t exactly figured out what my beliefs are, I would be pretty comfortable there.  The list of affirming churches in my community is not very long, so I compiled the list and began to debate which one I should visit first.  Many of the churches on the list were very different from churches I had attended in the past.  Most were Episcopal.  I knew Episcopal churches would feature liturgy and some different ways of doing things so I did some googling to see what I would be in for.  Yes yes, I do my homework before darkening the door of any unknown church.  After much debate, I picked one.  Thinking it probably wouldn’t be the place I would end up, but they are hosting an event that looks interesting (read progressive) and so I felt it would be a safe place to figure out how to navigate an Episcopal service before I visit a place I might actually want to join.  What I found there shocked me.

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The Trap of Selflessness

As a single woman constantly revolving in conservative Christian circles it can be difficult for me to find value in my life.  When I am surrounded by women who are raising children or serving their husbands, I can feel quite out of place.  When I cook, it’s just for me.  If I do manage to do some housework, the only one who sees it is me.  When I am eating alone, which is 95% of the time, I never have to yield to someone else’s food choices.  In so many ways I do what I want when I want.  As long as I get to work when I’m supposed to and accomplish what I am supposed to, the rest is up to me.

Sometimes being around my friends who wear the mom hat so well makes me feel guilty.  My life looks so selfish compared to theirs.  So what do I do?  How can I pursue selflessness, self sacrifice, and those other godly characteristics when I don’t have a family?

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Church Fail

Thinking about church this Sunday.  Definitely not sitting in the walls of a church, but thinking about them from a distance.  A local pastor gave a tirade, I mean sermon, against the evils of homosexuality recently.  That’s painful.  More painful, watching as local commenters on Facebook defend him.  One commenter could not even understand an article criticizing him – the writer would post quotes as examples of his cruelty and the commenter was like, “I don’t get it.  He said that.  It’s true, what’s the big deal?”

What’s the big deal?  The big deal is that traditional evangelicalism says a core piece of my identity is broken.  They would quickly say, well, we are all broken people in need of Jesus.  But the difference is that they would say that the nature of my brokenness makes me ineligible (I hear unworthy) for love.  According to traditional Christian sexual ethics, my brokenness disqualifies me from being a parent, having a family, having a spouse.  And just to be safe, I better make sure I maintain a low level of intimacy in all my relationships.  So what I hear there is that until/unless I get this “evil” worked out, I am worthless.  In the very religion that advertises a place to belong, grace and forgiveness, unconditional love; I hear the message that none of that applies to me.  I’m too broken for that, unless Jesus “fixes” me.

I have done an awesome job of following those guidelines.  So much that I don’t even know how to have people in my life.  I don’t know how to have close friends.  I don’t know how to have romantic relationships.  And according to tradition that means I have successfully resisted my brokenness.  Yay!  Good for me!  And yet I hear from the pulpit that I’m supposed to be in groups where we can have intimate friendships.  But that’s not for me.  I’m not wanted in those groups.

I just can’t do a theology that on one hand encourages communities and relationships for everyone else and isolation for me.  That’s why I’m not in church on this Sunday morning.  Because it’s for everyone else.  Not for me.


Reflections on Camping Alone

Oh, what a stereotypical lesbian I am in the fall.  I adore flannel shirts.  I love an extended hike through a colorful forest.  And if I can extend the hike into a camping weekend I am all for it.  I love pitching my tent in the leaves, pumping up my air mattress (I’ve aged enough that unless I’m backpacking somewhere, I break out the coleman), and warming water for tea on my camp stove.

I enjoy the solitude of camping even more now that I have a roommate.  I just love being out and alone.  Usually.  And yet if I have service, I post pictures to Facebook – look at my campsite, look at this pretty view, look at my breakfast.  I want my experience to be witnessed.  I want to share it with someone.  No one ever wants to join me on an adventure.  Honestly, for most of my friends it would be kind of awkward to spend that much time alone together.  Camping for two is camping for a couple.  Whether the sleeping bags get zipped together or not, spending days alone together is the perfect activity for two people who are getting to know each other in an exclusive romantic way.

What would it be like to make two cups of tea?  What would it be like to have another hand to help pitch the tent?  What would it be like to wake to a fire built by someone other than me?  What would it be like to point out little things like pretty rocks or spiders to each other while we hike?  What would it be like to chat over the chirping of crickets?  What would it be like to make love under the stars?

I have seen and done some amazing things.  And no one knows.  Stories are so much better when they involve people.  Friends.  Companions.  Lovers.  I have a lot of memories of places I’ve been, but for the past several years, I don’t have a lot of good stories to share.  Because most of my memories are just me.  And that isn’t super entertaining.

Will the same be true of my whole life?  I’ve gone to great lengths to make sure the adventures keep coming, but will I get to the end of my life and find that my story is boring because it lacks people?  Are crazy experiences and memories of cool places enough to build the story of a life if that life is lacking a co-star?  Even Tom Hanks had Wilson.


Sharing the Real Ex-Ex-Gay Truth

I stumbled upon this post a while ago, and it’s an easy choice for this week’s weekly reader.  Even though the weekly reader idea has been a little bit less than weekly I suppose.  Bi-weekely reader?  Occasional reader?  Anyway, here’s something I found on the internet that you should read.  The post itself is a guest post at Little Did She Know, a blog I don’t actually follow all that often.

In this post, Julie Rodgers shared her story.  The one where she came to terms with the reality that she was not as ex-gay as she had said she was, rather publicly.  At this point she had been so involved in Ex-gay ministry that people knew her.  What people knew was that she had been attracted to women and that she or God was changing her orientation.  Except that she knew that she still liked girls.  And she said this:

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Thank God Jennifer Knapp Faced the Music

71sIhSWMaqL._SL1500_Jennifer Knapps’ personal memoir, Facing the Music, was released this week.  And I’ve read it cover to cover in 2 days.  Knapp is perhaps best known these days as the Christian rock star who left Christian music to be a lesbian.  Despite much googling on my part, the details of her personal life have remained rather quiet.  Much to the disappointment of scores of Christian lesbians (okay just me) who were desperate to hear exactly what that process was like for her and perhaps find in her someone like us.  Perhaps that pressure was why she kept those details to herself for so long.  Perhaps she was waiting until she had the story fully ready rather than share it in disjointed segments as songwriters so often do.  Anyway, she’s ready now, and the story was well worth the wait.

“From glass alabaster she poured out the depths of her soul. Oh foot of Christ would you wait if her harlotries known…”  “Hold Me Now”  Kansas. 

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Vulnerability Before God

As I’ve been working through this idea that, hmm, this is what my sexual orientation is, I’ve also been working through the idea that, hmm, people around me wouldn’t like to know this.

Vulnerability.  Daring Greatly.  Coming out of the closet.

Vs.

Secrecy.  Shame. Hiding.

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Vicky Beeching: An Exemplary Coming Out Move

In case you missed it, Vicky Beeching did an interview with the Independent August 13,  in which she announced that she is in fact attracted to women.  A subsequent film interview gave her story and a somewhat passionate debatewith anti-gay preacher Scott Lively.  Coming about a year after the World Vision fiasco (remember when World Vision announced that they would allow gay folks to work for them RHE’s comments on this here, only to reverse the decision in an few days due to the number of dropped sponsorships and overwhelmingly negative response online??? RHE’s update here), I expected my news feed to be full of hateful responses, or at least a call to boycott her music.  I’ve waited all month and it seems as though none of my conservative friends are outraged by this.  Perhaps no one really knows who the artist is who sings this song or that?  Perhaps because she’s been out of Christian music for almost 5 years no one cares?  I’m sure she’s gotten negative responses, but it’s been surprisingly refreshing not to have to read them all over my news feed.  Yet there’s almost a dread when I open Facebook as though I’m waiting for the ignorant to realize there’s something new to hate on.

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Set-up from the Closet

I am so far in the closet in my real life that I’m not sure I can tell the door from the wall.  I have my reasons.  I do.  To come out takes an immense measure of vulnerability, courage, and has a very real cost for those who choose to do so.  I respect them.  I can understand why they would have a little less respect for someone like me. Continue reading