Reconciling spirituality, sexuality

Stained glass cross with rainbowBY MANDY WILSON

I remember the first time someone told me I was going to hell — it was my reflection glaring at me from the bathroom mirror, reeling from my first lesbian kiss. The stinging words scrolled through my 19-year-old mind on continual loop. “I’m going to hell. God can’t love me if I’m gay. I’m going to hell.” Devastation crept in and I began hating myself for the first time. In that moment, as I brought water to my flushed face, I could think of only one thing to do. I decided to be indefinitely single. I decided this in the way that one decides to go out into a cold winter’s night — a sheer act of will. This became my life for the next six years.

Raised in a conservative church, I faced what so many other LGBT Christians struggle with, too: finding a way to reconcile my spiritual beliefs and true desires of my heart. According my to church’s backward beliefs about homosexuality, I was a lesbian anomaly. I had two incredible heterosexual parents. I was never sexually abused. I didn’t have an absent father or an overbearing mother. Perhaps I had some subconscious aversion to the male race. But what caused it? More than once, I blamed it on the experience of my first kiss. I was 12. His tongue felt like slime, and he smelled like a combination of hot dogs and mouth rinse. By my mid-20s, I could no longer ignore my same-sex attraction. So from deep within the closet, I began my venture out. It’s an ongoing journey, but I have slowly realized that I don’t have to give up my faith or my sexuality. Here are some guidelines to help you on your own journey.

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