There is something special and sacred that I have been wanting to share with you for some time now. Over the past 3 years, God has worked through a variety of experiences to lead me to accept my identity as a gay woman. I have been aware of my same-sex attraction since I was in middle school (perhaps earlier) but it wasn’t until recently that I began to love and affirm this beautiful piece of my identity. I have been slowly coming out to my family and close friends over the past 2 years. We have been on a special journey together, listening to one another, asking questions, and reflecting on God’s presence in the midst of it all. It was important that we had the time to process and walk into this new reality together before sharing it publicly. Now that some time has passed, I am grateful and excited to be able to share this part of myself with each of you.
More than ever we need to begin listening to stories outside of our own experience. I have been changed by recent opportunities to hear stories that are different than my own: stories of the Indigenous people of North Dakota, stories of rural factory workers in West Virginia, stories of families torn apart by the Prison Industrial Complex, stories of single-parenting in government housing, stories of refugees and immigrants risking their lives to flee violence in their home countries. In our divided world, it is tempting to push people away who seem to be on “the other side”. It is so much easier to surround ourselves with people who think like we do or share similar life experiences. But if we want to embrace this vision of a UNITED States of America or a vision of the unified body of Christ, one body with many parts, we need to start listening to stories and experiences that are not like our own. We should listen with empathy, seeking to understand what life is like in someone else’s skin. We should listen for the ways the Divine is present in another. We should listen, not to defend our own beliefs, but with hope that there may be some truth to what the other is saying. We should listen with honor and dignity, acknowledging the work of God in their life as well as our own.
I want to share my story with you today, not because it is easy, but because I believe it is an act of faithfulness. My hope is that you will receive what I share with grace and an openness to the ways God has been present throughout this journey. You may have questions, but I ask that you take a moment just to listen. Perhaps what I share may be more important than any answer you seek.
A 14-Year Old’s Confession
I had just gotten home from school and was shooting basketball outside my family’s home in Charlotte. I had a lot on my mind that I was trying to process and ignore all at the same time. As a young teenager, I was developing a pretty good sense of the person I wanted to be – a woman of high integrity, a friend to others, a responsible daughter, and most importantly, a committed follower of Jesus. My parents raised me in the Southern Baptist church and when I was 13 years old I decided to become a Christian. Following Jesus gave me the identity and purpose I had been looking for. Throughout middle and high school, I became increasingly involved in our youth group. My church congregation was like a second family; a place I felt safe and loved.
But that afternoon, as I dribbled the ball, I grew increasingly overwhelmed by one reality that didn’t fit in with the rest of my life: “I am attracted to girls.”
This wasn’t a new realization. I had been aware of my same-sex attraction since I was 12 years old. But whether I planned on it or not, this was the moment that I came out to myself. This was the first moment that I was actually honest about all I had been thinking and feeling for several years.
While I wish that this self-realization could have been a moment of joy, I remember feeling terrified. I immediately went into problem-solving mode trying to figure out what all of this meant. How could I still be a good Christian and a good daughter while dealing with my same-sex attraction? What was the solution to my problem?
As I dribbled the basketball inside the garage, I remember reaching some sort of conclusion. I began to pray, “God, maybe you made me this way so I would know how sinful I was…so I would know that I need Jesus. Maybe this is like my ‘thorn in the flesh’ and it will make me more dependent on you. Maybe this will be part of my testimony so other people who feel this same way will know that God can change them too.”
There are so many things I wish I could say to 14-year old Amanda. She was so hopeful even though she felt so alone. Over the next few years, she would bury so much shame and fear while trying to appear happy and content. She knew there was something different about her from her sisters and other girls at school, yet she wanted so desperately just to fit in. She would spend the rest of her childhood trying to be the best Christian in hopes that something would change.
I wish I could tell 14-year old Amanda that nothing is wrong with her. That she is beautifully and wonderfully made – all of her, including her sexual organs and romantic attractions. That her desire and care for another should not be a source of shame, but a sign of the Spirit of Love inside her. That her desire to be authentically known and loved should be celebrated. That her hope to fall in love, marry, and create a home filled with peace, grace, hospitality, and generosity is one of the greatest acts of faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pushing Away the Gay
My struggle with my same-sex attraction culminated during undergrad at N.C. State. In many ways, I felt like I had finally “arrived” in my identity as a Christian: Bible study leader, active church member, very involved in a campus ministry, mission trips over spring break, and international evangelism in the summer. Throughout many of these experiences I made some amazing friends and created great memories, but I was constantly in pursuit of being “good enough” or “Christian enough”, a standard that always seemed impossible. Woven throughout this Christian narrative, I had come to believe that who I was wasn’t good enough, and the theology I was taught totally affirmed this.
Apart from Jesus, I was totally depraved, “a wretched, poor, and helpless worm” in the words of William Carey. My heart couldn’t be trusted; any action apart from God’s grace, even if it was well-intended, was rooted in sinfulness. While it was preached that there was “nothing I could do to earn God’s love,” I still felt the need to try and be the perfect Christian. But this pursuit to be an “idealized Christian woman” wasn’t life-giving. There was a huge disconnect between my life on the outside and the real emotions, desires, and questions on the inside. This disconnect wasn’t just about my sexuality, it was also about being a “Biblical woman”; the standards of how a woman should dress or present herself, how much a woman should (and shouldn’t) speak, how a woman should submit to male leadership in the Church and in the home. Who I knew myself to be did not fit into this “ideal,” but I tried and tried to fit in, please those around me, and make God happy.
There are so many painful memories of those days in college. Long, sleepless nights driving around Raleigh crying, begging God to change me, and then yelling at him for making me this way. I probably spent just as many hours in therapy as I did in church during those four years. I saw seven different counselors while in undergrad, who would try to blame my same-sex attraction on an unhealthy attachment with a parent or sexual abuse as a child (neither of which was true). I remember having to cancel my Spring Break plans during my sophomore year because my counselor feared that I might self-harm while away from home. One of the most awkward situations was trying to explain to one or two female friends that we shouldn’t talk anymore because I was too “dependent” on our friendship (aka I was attracted to them and was told to never talk to them again). This cycle of frustration, fear, shame, and hopelessness led to several prescriptions for anti-depressants and anxiety medications just so I could get through each day. I felt so alone, like no one understood what my life was really like. People only saw what I showed them. No one saw those sleepless nights, the hours with therapists, the years of medication, the thoughts of suicide. I desperately wanted to experience the abundant life that Jesus talked about in the gospel of John, but I had no idea how I would live in this never-ending cycle for the next 50 years.
Growing up, I only knew one person who identified as LGBTQ and I rarely saw them. Even so, I developed plenty of assumptions about the LGBTQ community solely based off Christian teaching and social stereotypes. While there are unique biases that go with the different identities of gay, lesbian, transgender, etc., I viewed the entire community in very degrading ways. I believed everyone who embraced one of these “lifestyles” was choosing to rebel against God. I was told that LGBTQ people were selfish because they only cared about their desires and not “God’s design.” In my mind, these individuals were “extra-sexual” and they had a reputation for sleeping around and being non-committal. The LGBTQ life was merely about pursuing pleasure with no concern for one another, let alone God.
But it wasn’t just LGBTQ people that I had preconceived notions about; it was also people of different religions. Without even knowing someone’s story or background, if I learned that they were of another faith, my goal was to convert them to Christianity ASAP. Part of my zeal for Christian evangelism was based off my feelings of religious superiority. But from what I had been taught, I was also fearful that millions of people around the world would spend eternity in hell. With these preconceived notions about other faiths and a conviction that serving as an international missionary was the ultimate sacrifice for God, I began a year-long mission trip to 11 different countries. While I anticipated returning to the U.S. with stories of conversions, healing, and revival, it was during this year of my life that my world was turned upside-down.
Finding God Where I Least Expected
My missions team was made up of individuals from different Christian traditions and denominations. During our year together I began to realize just how broad the Christian faith was. We had a lot in common about our love for God, our theology of Jesus, and a desire to share this good news with others. But we also had some different ideas: God’s sovereignty and human free will, how to read and interpret the Bible, the role of women in the Church, charismatic gifts and the healing power of the Holy Spirit, thoughts about science and evolution, and ethical convictions around war, politics, and same-sex relationships. Furthermore, the international churches that we were working with also had different theologies about the Christian gospel, based on their own cultural experiences. As I learned more and more about Church History, I began to realize that there was not one version of Christianity. Communities and traditions in our country and all around the world interpret Scripture and think about the Christian faith in many different ways. Whether we realize it or not, a lot of our theological ideas are rooted in our own cultural experiences, our identity with a dominant or minority group, and the beliefs that have been passed down in our families and communities. For someone like me who is always searching for a “black or white” answer, recognition of this diversity was difficult at times. I wanted there to be one right answer, one standard for the whole world.
While I was overseas, I was also surprised to encounter the Holy Spirit in places that I didn’t anticipate. Before this journey, I was quick to draw lines in the sand dividing who was “saved” and who was not. It was rather surprising when I experienced the Spirit of Christ in people of other faiths: the hospitality of a Hindu, the compassion of a Buddhist, or the deep love for truth in a Muslim. This is not to say that we shouldn’t share our stories of faith or the message of Jesus with others, but we should also take the time to listen and hear how these individuals have also encountered God in their own lives. I started this journey with the belief that I was taking God to these “unreached peoples,” but when I arrived, I discovered that God was already there. These words of Thomas Merton always seem to hit home as I reflect on my year overseas:
“It was certainly right that Christian Europe should bring Christ to the Indians of Mexico and the Andes, as well as to the Hindus and the Chinese; but where they failed was in their inability to encounter Christ already potentially present in the Indians, the Hindus, and the Chinese…God speaks, and God is to be heard, not only on Sinai, not only in my own heart, but in the voice of the stranger. That is why the peoples of the Orient, and all primitive peoples in general make so much of the mystery of hospitality.”
When I returned to the States after my travels, I had some amazing stories and memories of the way God was present throughout that trip. But one of the most significant ways I experienced the Divine was in the “sacred up-rootedness” that came with this journey. I was being led to let go of the easy answers and my preconceived notions about “the way life works.” I had encountered God’s presence in villages and communities that I had previously labelled as “spiritually dead.” Because of this experience, I was learning to appreciate the variety of traditions, worship styles, and deeply held beliefs that make up the Christian faith. I was beginning to understand that the Christian tradition was much broader than I ever imagined.
While this sense of “sacred up-rootedness” was exhilarating and exciting, it was equally terrifying and filled with questions. I had left behind a world of “black and white answers” and was surrounded by a lot of gray. Even as I talked with pastors and Christian leaders, I was met with a lot of “I don’t know” or “I have the same questions.” I am sure you have had some of these same thoughts. For example, I always believed that God had chosen or predestined for me to be a Christian, but did that also mean that God had chosen or predestined others for hell? On the other hand, had I really been “chosen” or was my Christian identity just a result of being born to a Christian family in America? If I had been born in another country with another religious identity, would that mean God didn’t “choose” me? After all, what even entitled me to a relationship with God while others were destined to hell? And for the non-Christians around the world who are living in poverty, was God’s “loving” plan for them to encounter hell on earth and then hell for eternity? How is that redemption? How is that just?
As I continued to wrestle with these questions, I began to doubt if I would ever know “the truth.” For my entire life, I had believed that what I was taught in church, in American society, and in my family was “the truth,” but what if I had just become a byproduct of my culture? What made me right and everyone else wrong?
Trading Certainty for Trust
“…I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)
These questions started a journey that I am still on today; a journey of curiosity as I seek to listen more, be present with others, and experience God in the midst of the questions. Several years ago, I heard a sermon from Dr. Greg Boyd comparing post-Enlightenment religion and the view of religion in the Ancient Near East (Old Testament times). According to Dr. Boyd, we in the 21st century have become entrenched in a “black and white faith” that resembles something like a transaction, a courtroom hearing, or a business contract. This modern conception of faith is fueled by certainty. But for the Israelites, faith was experienced through a covenant relationship with God that was based on trust. While a “contract faith” can often feel disconnected from our lived experiences, “a covenant faith” is founded on trust so even when the unexpected happens, a relationship undergirds the promise. Dr. Boyd’s insights on these different approaches to faith forever changed the way that I relate to God and the Christian faith. Being in relationship with God and being a disciple of Jesus is about trust and relationship rather than certainty.
For the next two years, I was immersed in conversations, podcasts, and books that wrestled with some of my curiosities around life and faith. While exploring what Christian thinkers had to say about a variety of theological questions, I encountered a spectrum of Christian theology on faith, gender, and sexuality. This was the first time that I had ever heard of “affirming theology” that said LGBTQ people were fearfully and wonderfully made and that their gender and sexual identity were God-given gifts rather than a choice, a result of abuse, or a source of sin. I still can remember, clear as day, the first time I met with an affirming pastor in Charlotte. I sat down in her office and blurted out, “Please explain to me how you can interpret these six ‘clobber texts’ in an affirming way.” While I was excited to be there and genuinely interested in her response, I still remember feeling skeptical and afraid. I was so worried of being “led astray” or “deceived by a false teaching.” Thankfully, we had a great conversation and she ended up introducing me to a lesbian couple in her congregation who had been together for over 30 years with two adopted children. This beautiful couple had me over for dinner and we talked for hours. I asked questions about their Christian faith and the ways God had shown up in their lives. I was deeply thankful for their generous hospitality and their desire to hear more about my journey as well.
Even with the energy and excitement that came with learning and opening myself up to new ideas and theologies, there were some days when I felt totally overwhelmed. How was I to discern God’s plan for my life amid all these different voices? Many people, including my counselor and Pastor, were confident that God was present in my life. They encouraged me to silence all the other voices and listen deep inside myself for where God was leading me. But even when it came to listening to my own heart or trusting myself, I felt totally out of practice. For most of my life I believed that my heart couldn’t be trusted, so I had suppressed many of my feelings and outsourced my beliefs to a religious institution.
Thankfully, even on days of great anxiety about where this journey would lead and what others might think of my decision, there was one thing I knew for certain: I did not want to live my life in fear.
Love Can’t Be Denied
As I’ve shared, life was rather disorienting between 2013 – 2015. While I had grown up in a safe, loving, and generous home, my experiences, both internally and abroad, had taken me beyond the worldview I was given. Many of us have encountered these moments when our reference points for life are disrupted; when the maps that used to guide us no longer speak to our experience. During this “disruption,” I befriended a spirit of curiosity as I continued to ask questions and learn from others. But the topic of faith and sexuality still made me nervous. While the stakes didn’t seem high for some of my other questions, the subject of sexuality was way too personal. I couldn’t even fathom the idea that God created me gay. So much of my life had been oriented around heteronormativity that I had no idea what life as a gay woman would mean. And while it was overwhelming just to think about the personal implications of my identity crisis, I couldn’t even think about my family or church community without feeling nauseous. In my mind, coming out as gay would be the ultimate betrayal to the community and family that had raised me.
So as much as I didn’t want to live in fear, I felt paralyzed by it. After spending several years buried in books and in prayer, I still didn’t know what to think about my sexuality or how to approach the conversation personally. It was one thing to listen to other people’s stories or to read theological arguments from a book, but I felt stuck when it came to deciding what I was supposed to do. And then out of nowhere, in the most beautiful and messy way possible, I found myself in a situation in which I had no control: I fell in love.
This love story deserves its own blog post (or perhaps a movie) to fully understand the depths of beauty, pain, and friendship that were experienced. It all began on a European vacation in the summer of 2014 with my best friend, Megan, and her family. As we travelled around the south of France and explored the beautiful town of Marseilles, I began feeling drawn to Megan in ways that were different than before. We had been close friends for over 5 years and Megan knew about my same-sex attraction. She had never expressed her opinion about what I should or shouldn’t do, but she was a good friend and always listened to me when I needed to vent or cry. I tried my hardest to suppress what I was feeling as we spent the first week in the south of France with her family. I was bitter and fearful that my attraction would once again ruin a close friendship. But there was something else in the air that I couldn’t quite figure out. It seemed hard to believe, but it felt like Megan was attracted to me as well.
Our second stop was Madrid to visit my college roommate and explore the beautiful capital of Spain. While I was really enjoying everything about Madrid, it took everything in me not to be overwhelmed with my growing attraction towards Megan. I spent many of the plane, train, and car rides journaling and praying about how confused I was and wondering what Megan was feeling. I was trying so hard to ignore this new reality, but one afternoon in Madrid, Megan finally spoke up: “What is going on?” All at once, I was overcome by embarrassment and anger. Everything that I had been feeling erupted. I stood up, punched the wall and yelled, “You know what’s going on with me! What the hell is going on with you?” Megan sat in silence for several minutes and finally said, “I’m gay and I haven’t known how to tell you.”
As I sat back down next to her, all my anger slowly melted into disbelief, “What? Since when? I thought you liked guys?” Over the next couple of hours, Megan shared with me that she had been meeting with a counselor for several months to talk about her sexuality and her faith. Through these conversations, Megan had come to view her sexuality as a part of her God-given identity; a source of joy rather than shame and self-hatred. She had been trying to figure out when to tell me, knowing that I had different convictions. I will never forget that afternoon in Madrid as we sat in silence having not a clue what our future would look like in this new reality. While it was important to both of us that we honored the convictions of the other, our unexpected mutual attraction made things complicated from the start.
After a week of being back in the U.S., Megan and I met at a park one Sunday afternoon to talk about our relationship. Megan spoke first and very kindly shared that she was attracted to me and believed that our love for one another could be a gift from God. She was gentle, authentic, and brave, but I was terrified and had only rehearsed one answer: “Yes, I like you too but I’ve always been told this isn’t what God wants for my life. My attraction to you is sinful; my love for you is rooted in selfishness.” Megan simply listened and nodded her head. I am not sure what she expected me to say. But even as I said those words my heart was breaking. My friendship with Megan had always been a source of joy, life, encouragement, and honesty. Could it be that God was working in this relationship to bring about more life and beauty than we ever imagined?
Once we left the park, we grabbed some dinner before she headed back to Raleigh. While everything I had said to Megan that afternoon came from my head, my heart felt so distant from those words. I didn’t want her to leave; she was my favorite person and for five years she had been a constant source of encouragement as I grew in love for God and my neighbor. If there was any relationship in which I trusted the movement of God’s Spirit (even in unexpected ways) it was this one.
As we were walking out of the restaurant, I remember grabbing Megan and holding her close without a word. I had never felt so much fullness and peace. I truly felt like myself, confident in who I was and the love that I had for Megan. There was safety in this relationship and a peace that surpassed all understanding. I felt fully known and fully loved, by the Creator and by Megan. Several minutes passed and Megan finally pulled away, “So are you being selfish right now or is this coming from a place of love?” I had never had someone be so direct about the disconnect between my head and my heart. Even though we had a long journey ahead of us, I think we knew the answer.
The next few months were really difficult. I would have moments of confidence and clarity in my sexual identity as God continued to lead me to a place of self-acceptance. But then there were other moments when I felt completely overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. Some of these were my own fears. I was afraid that I was just looking for a path that “justified my sin” and that accepting my gay identity was, in fact, not God’s desire for my life. But over time I realized that my fears didn’t have as much to do with God as they did with other people. Ever since I was young, my motivations have been geared toward making others happy and seeking their approval. Still to this day, I can walk in a room and figure out “what role I need to play” to fit in and be accepted. And this desire for approval got even more complicated once religion was thrown into the picture. Being accepted by my church equated to being accepted by God, and when I didn’t have the approval of my religious community, I felt super self-conscious and insecure.
Once again, I felt trapped by where I was feeling led and what would be accepted by my religious community and my family. These were individuals and families who loved me and helped raise me; they had profound influence on my life in many positive ways. The thought of letting them down made me sick to my stomach, but I couldn’t live like this forever. More times than not, Megan was caught in the middle of this struggle. Every time I said that we needed to take a break from communication so I could process this on my own, she agreed. She put up with a lot of mixed signals and a lot of hard conversations. She genuinely wanted what was best for me, no matter what that meant for our relationship. I am forever thankful for Megan’s patience and understanding, knowing that my journey caused a lot of pain and heartache for her along the way.
In 2015, several other Christian friends came out to me as LGBTQ. Once again, the “black and white answers” I had been given didn’t work in these conversations. None of these friends were victims of sexual abuse, they each had 2 parents with whom they had healthy relationships, and they were beautiful people. Just like me, they had tried and tried to change but it didn’t work. They didn’t feel called to lives of celibacy, but had a deep desire for relationship with another individual. These people loved Jesus, they were compassionate, generous, gracious, kind, and authentic. If I am honest, I was genuinely surprised when these friends didn’t “turn” selfish, extra-sexual, or non-committal once coming out. I still had a certain stereotype in my mind of what an LGBTQ person was like and my friends didn’t fit in that mold. They wanted to grow in a loving and committed relationship with another. They wanted to learn how to love their spouse sacrificially, just as Christ loved the church. They wanted someone to be there when they got home from work, ready to hear about their day. It was through Megan and these close friends that I began to recognize their “coming out” as an act of faithfulness to God. They were misunderstood, stereotyped, and kicked out of churches, but this is where the Spirit of God was leading them. I had known many of these individuals for several years and could see the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Who was I to deny the work of God’s Spirit? Who was I to say that their story, their journey with God was wrong, or that God couldn’t move in these ways?
John Wesley, one of the founders of Methodism, is known for his theological contribution of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The Quadrilateral is a tool for theological reflection that values Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason as valid theological sources. Up until this time in my life, I had tried to answer these questions about LGBTQ inclusion solely by studying theology, social theory, and Biblical interpretation. But it wasn’t until I actually knew LGBTQ people of faith, heard their stories, and began to fall in love myself, that I encountered the presence of God within the LGBTQ community. The power of the Christian faith has never solely resided in books and human theology. For the crux of Christianity can be found when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; incarnation changes everything. Within the Christian tradition, the power of relationship, human life, and Emmanuel, God with us, cannot be overstated. There are so many stories throughout Scripture when the Israelites, Jewish people, and Christians thought they had it right, and often for good reason. Many times, these people were even following the teachings of the Torah, but then God flipped everything on its head.
Throughout this journey of personal discernment, I continued to fall more and more in love with Megan. And as I fell in love, I was so surprised by the amount of joy and hope that I felt. While there were parts of me that were still fearful that I might become a terrible person if I accepted my gay identity, my actual experience was totally different. Rather than growing in selfishness or the idolatry of pleasure, I started to feel more confident in my own skin, and out of that authenticity I had greater compassion for others. I still had the desire to love and serve that I’ve always had, but now with a greater awareness of communities that have felt ostracized by the Christian faith. Holistically, I am a healthier person, no longer experiencing suicidal thoughts or feelings of despair. And I am so thankful to only be taking one anxiety medication, rather than the two or three prescriptions I had before. In every area of my life, I have experienced a greater sense of wholeness, health, and well-being. And even when this journey has been and continues to be difficult, I still go to bed each night thankful that God has given me the strength to pursue an authentic life where there is hope for a future.
I truly believe that our God of love, peace, and hope has led me to this place that is not laden with fear but where I can run free. It is an abundant joy to show up every day ready to serve, minister, and love from a place of authenticity. By letting go of a worldview sustained only by black and white answers, I am free to embrace a life full of curiosity, adventure, and vibrant color.
Thankful for You
Thank you so much for taking the time to hear bits and pieces of my story. As I stated at the beginning of this post, I believe it is so important that we take time to listen to experiences outside of our own. For some of you, you may have found this post exciting, beautiful, and encouraging. I am so thankful for that. For others, you may not totally agree with everything I have said or the conclusions that I reached about my faith and sexual identity. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, and please know that it’s okay if we don’t agree. I was in a completely different place regarding this conversation 5 years ago and we each have experiences that shape us along the way. This blog wasn’t intended to defend one set of beliefs over another; there are plenty of articles and books that do a great job at teasing apart “the debate” of LGBTQ inclusion. Rather, it was my desire just to share my story as authentically as I knew how.
There is one last group that I would like to thank, and that is the beautiful people who find themselves in the same place that I was only 2 years ago. I am sure there are many people who will read this blog with journeys similar to my own. My prayer is that God’s Spirit would lead you to a place of confidence, self-acceptance, and joy. You are beautifully and wonderfully made. Thankfully, there are many faith communities that are now open and affirming to the LGBTQ community and society is becoming a safer place for all of us. No matter where you are in discerning your path, know that you are fully known and fully loved. There are so many people, including myself, who would love to encourage you and walk alongside you. Thankfully, we never have to be on this journey alone.
 Alternative language used by “unaffirming” Christians to describe same-sex attraction without associating this attraction with one’s sexual identity.
 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer
 The verses in the Bible that are commonly used to argue that homosexuality is a sin.