My best friend, T, and I have been together now for 11 years, this past Fall. We grew into women together. We met in jr. high and were virtually inseparable – in spirit, although we could not always be close physically – throughout high school. We have not always been as emotionally intimate as we once were, as in year 8 when you did not see one without the other. We went to her church together, we went to my church together, we participated in campus religious groups together – the works. The only thing that I have really ever kept from her has been my journey to accept myself as a lesbian. We’ve talked about it every few years, briefly. I think I talked to her about it when I left my fine arts high school, while I was in search of salvation from the Gay. We talked about it again in early 2005 as I was preparing to go to start bible school. But since then? nada.
Lately I’ve been looking for a roommate and she has tried to be so very helpful, suggesting friends of hers. But the problem is that all of her friends are also religious. They live 6-to-a-house in the inner city as activism, to put themselves purposefully where no one wants to be, to seek change. And all of that is good. But their ministry and their faith is quite adamantly exclusive of homosexual relationships. According to their interpretation of the Book, no means no. Obviously my lifestyle doesn’t allow me much room to hide my grand affairs with the (now various) women who have shared a “bountiful beauty” with me lately. None of these potential roommates would be good for me.
But how do I tell this to my best friend, when all along I have been leading people to believe that it is something mutable, that I’m “working on it.” She is one of those people who knew of my affection for women, but it was under the condition that I would not act on my desires. According to the Christian ideologies, the desire itself is not the problem, it is the actions that cause you to sin. There’s that word, such a taboo. Sin.
I have not altogether abandoned my faith in God, how can I, when it is so integral to who I am as a person? To forget my Christian upbringing would be a mistake because it has brought me tremendous peace. While my queerness is not mutable, my Christian beliefs are. Before I even decided to come out, I researched different interpretations of the Book, and I saw that there is more than one lens. To put it another way, I simply had to turn the kaleidescope to one side and the picture changed. The principles of Love and Purity remained fixed, but the definitions and the examples shifted. I saw myself as acceptable.
Not everyone can stand or understand the idea of turning the kaleidescope – that’s the problem. In the early days, Christians talked about, debated, asked questions. Now, we simply listen to pastors and ministers and believe what they say without looking into it ourselves. In the early days of Islam there was the concept of ijtihad – a practice of reasoning, of dissent and debate. Well that free thinking got shut down by the powers that were when something caused a stir and it’s been that way ever since – blind belief, without question authority.
Perhaps the most important thing that I have been able to implement in my life, that shapes the way I interact with Christians, is that God speaks to me. God speaks to us. Ask Him, and he will speak to you. What is more true? What God said to someone else, or what God says to you? God says to me – “you’re my beloved, before I do anything else with you, I love you.” That is reassurance enough for me to believe that that if I start veering off “the path of righteousness” (the way of love, integrity, and persistent pursuit of truth) then He will steer me in the right direction (and I will allow Him to do so). It is assurance of safety.
God loves persistently, doggedly, unwaveringly. And that is the purpose of His people, to love without expectations, to love when you are provoked to hatred. It’s been a year now since I came out to my mother, and my goal has been this:
to build a deep, deep well of love for myself, so that I can then draw my bucket up from the darkness to quench the thirst for love in other people. So that I can water thirsty grounds where few have loved.
I’m getting there, I think. I’ve allowed myself to make choices, and I’ve brought so much love and understanding to myself and I think I’m finally getting to the point where I can give it all away. But I don’t think T will understand. She’ll love me, she will, but she’ll disagree with my decision, she will see me in sin and shadow. Not because she is not open minded, and not because she does not love, but because we now believe differently, while we used to believe similarly. I’m going to have to talk to her soon, because I think I found a roommate. So. here goes nothing.