I was born and raised in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) Church. Like many of us who identify as LGBT, I went to church every Sunday and frequently heard about how homosexuality was a sin. As an African American I grew up believing that homosexuality wasn’t even something that existed in our community. I struggled for many years with my identity as a lesbian, an African American and a Christian. Like many people I know, I put my faith on the back burner as I came into my identity as a lesbian of color.
I knew deep down inside that Jesus would always love me no matter who I was or how I identified. I rejected society’s ideas of what it meant to be a “Christian”, I knew that there was no way that love could be a sin. I never really questioned if I was going to get to heaven but I still wasn’t being spiritually filled either. I struggled with depression, anxiety and even thoughts of suicide because I couldn’t accept the intersections of my identities. It wasn’t until I started attending Memorial Christian Church in Ann Arbor, MI that I was able to really start my journey of faith and my journey of finding myself.
As a member of the Disciples of Christ Church I’ve learned to accept my identity. I’ve taken many classes, read a lot of books but nothing comes close to confirming my identity as being able to love my God freely has. It’s a relief to be able to worship and not think about my sexual orientation as a problematic factor in my faith. As I learn more about the love that Jesus wants us to share with others, I learn more about myself. I’ve learned that I have a lot of love to offer the world and it does not matter that I’m a lesbian. I’ve learned that I’m a strong African American leader. I’ve become more comfortable with who I am, and there for I can go out into the world and feel comfortable challenging others beliefs.
Being spiritually filled is greater than loving God and going to Church. Being spiritually filled is about knowing yourself as God knows you. The closer I become with God on my faith journey, the more I know about myself. For once in my 26 years of life- I love life, I love waking up every morning, I love other people, I love myself and I love my God. I owe this all to the Disciples of Christ Church because they confirm who I am, that I belong at the table.
I realize though that I had to join Disciples of Christ Church so that I could deepen my knowledge of Christ and start to find myself on my faith journey. There are many of us who are still stuck however. We are stuck in churches that we were raised in. We are forced to hear about how much God hates us because of who we are. We are suffering from mental health problems, addictions, and broken selves because we are constantly sent messages that teach us we are wrong.
I also realize that one day I will return to the Church that I was raised in. I have to go back because there are too many of my brothers and sisters closeted in those Churches who accept the “gospel” as truth. It’s going to take those of us who are strong in our faith to stand up for the others and say we are in your congregations, we are your elders, your ushers, your faith leaders, we are not invisible. I will always remain a member of Disciples of Christ Church because I’m on this journey for life but I have unfinished business with the A.M. E Church. It is my hope that one day I can walk into any Church and be welcomed to the table no matter how I identify. I hope that people will stop focusing on condemning people for who they are or how they identify but start loving them because that is what Jesus taught us.