There is very little love lost between the LGBT community and the Christian Church. For every vitriolic, fire-and-brimstone preacher, there is someone like George Takei poking fun and holes in every biblical argument. It doesn’t help the Church’s cause when celibate priests have wandering hands and their gay-cure advocates clearly didn’t finish the whole course.
I grew up in a conservative Christian household – my mother still thinks Britney Spears is devil music – and homosexuality was never conversation fodder. Even in church, the minister rarely broached contentious topics. Then, one week, the vicar stood up to speak, and he opened with 1 Corinthians. The passage was essentially a list of sins that the apostle Paul deemed would inhibit entry into heaven. When he got to ‘sexually immoral’, the minister elaborated to include pornography. I was moments away from cheekily elbowing my suddenly quiet dad when I heard homosexuality being added. The elbow never happened.
For a whole week, my dad’s browser history was squeaky clean. The next Monday, a whole slew of interesting URLs cropped up. He’s human, but he made an effort, and I have no problem with that. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been exposed to some form of porn, willingly or in a Brazzers pop-up.
That still left me with the same problem. I couldn’t just make an effort and be straight for a week. When this sermon happened, I was 15 and had only recently accepted my gayness – as I was simply not nun-material, I desperately wanted someone, something to tell me I could be in a relationship and keep my faith without being a complete hypocrite.
My parents left me confident that if I ever came out, they’d pack my bags for me. Subsequent sermons by other church ministers were of the vitriolic variety, and most religious friends were edgy. The relevant bible passages were damning at best, and you need to think very late rally if you were to read anything condoning homosexuality in them.
Months went by, and life soldiered on while I struggled with my faith. One of my best friends, one of the strongest Christians I knew, told me she was bisexual and then promptly told me she didn’t believe in God anymore. I fell in love and into a relationship with my first and only girlfriend – ironically, a wonderful straight girl from a Catholic school. My religious conflict took the backseat for a while, but I never stopped praying.
It was summertime when the same vicar stood up again and delivered a sermon completely unrelated to homosexuality. While I’ve long forgotten what the sermon was actually about, one sound bite still resonates with me: the church isn’t full of hypocrites, because there’s always room for one more. No matter how much we preach, we all sin – as a result, we don’t have the right to judge. I am not proud to be gay, but neither am I ashamed. It’s a part of me that I cannot change and, while God can do things that we can only dream of, such a core part of us can only really be suppressed. My mother is lactose-intolerant; she is neither proud nor ashamed, and no amount of prayer is going to make her able to drink a pint of milk. But the best we can do is not to give up on our faith, simply because one aspect of ourselves isn’t up to scratch. Not being perfect is no excuse to dismiss Christianity as homophobic mumbo-jumbo.