Do You Regret Coming Out?

From the archives, originally posted in 2016.

In light of the recent headlines with Colton Haynes officially coming out, I’ve had many people ask me if I regret it at all in my own journey.

What I can say is that I entirely echo Colton’s words that “acting 24 hours a day is exhausting”. What I regret is the time I spent living in fear of being discovered, disowned and discarded. What I’ve found is that most people in my life are embracing me and even celebrating my courage.

I’ve yet to meet a member of the LGBTQ community that regrets coming out. Regret is far often more attached to HOW it happened than being out in the open. Not everyone is as lucky as me. They don’t get to choose when and how they come out. Countless youth are outed by peers or parents far before they’re ready for different reasons. Many are outed within the faith community when coming out to someone in trust and “did you hear about?” becomes a “prayer request.”

Being out to friends and family and being out to the public are also different things–which Colton touches on in his article linked above.

For me, it’s deep and personal. I needed to come to terms with myself and grieve the ways I had acted and hurt myself and others while hiding from the truth. I needed to face the friends that I had shoved out of my life and force myself to ask hard questions.

I needed to choose what was more important to me–what I know about myself or what others expected of a Christian. Talking with my mom, we both laughed at the idea that I ever tried to NOT be bisexual. The first person I was ever in love with was my next door neighbour Melissa.

We were about 8-ish and spent every waking moment of the summer together. It was the kind of puppy love that parents encourage between a boy and a girl as “cute” and “normal”–but it wasn’t until I was a grown up looking back that I saw it for what it was.

Praise the Lord my mother never shamed me for that relationship or a few I had in my teens. In our family, who you love had more to do with how they treat you and others than their gender, race or religion.

What did coming out mean for you?

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Self-inflicted Battle Scars

Every week I try to write about a different Christian buzzword and today’s buzzword is same sex attracted/love the sinner, hate the sin. I have been struggling to come up with something to write all week as the reasons to ascribing to this philosophy are as varied as the people that Christians are bred to oppress.

People love to hate LGBT people because they assume that we’re all non-monogamous. It is true that a lot of LGBT people will hook up and have more than one partner in their lifetimes. A lot of them will have illegitimate children, as well. A lot of LGBT people, though, know the sting of being rejected by a parent, and because of that they will work to love the children gifted to them, either themselves or by giving them to a set of parents ready for the responsibility of child-rearing and ready to unconditionally love that child.

People love to hate LGBT people because they’ve been told that LGBT people are at war with Christianity. They’re right, there is a war being waged. The Christians attacked first when Homosexual acts were outlawed because of what the bible says. It became, after that, that LGBT people began fighting not to make the bible obsolete, but to understand how it should be applied in a world where people of many faiths and backgrounds coexisted. LGBT people were not trying to remove Christian rights at all, but rather even the playing table. I have heard hateful things spewed by both sides – two wounded animals fighting to protect themselves. I am not saying that one side is right and one side is wrong – both view the same world but only see what they have been conditioned to see.

People love to hate LGBT people because they’re different. People love to hate Christians because they’re peculiar. Both have a very rich history, though, full of events that shaped how we view the world today and full of people who changed the realm of human thought. For a long time I thought that if I were a Queer person I could not be Christian, but they’re fighting for the same thing, though. Both sides are fighting to express the love that they have been taught to show. Both the LGBT person and the Christian belong to these vibrant communities full of God’s creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours. Both will fight for those that they love, but more than that, they will fight for those in their communities.

It’s time to stop trying to find our differences and instead look at where we are the same. Instead of trying to vilify each other, why don’t we try to build each other up? We were all created unique, but we were all also created in the image of God, with an incredible capacity for love. It’s even been scientifically proven that when we try to love each other, even those people that we disagree with, we become happier. We were wired to love. It hurts to see this war that is being waged – because in the end, I know that we’re doing more damage to ourselves rather than each other.

In this war, can I be Queer and Christian? It’s hard to be Switzerland sometimes. It’s the disappointment when my LGBT friends won’t come to church with me even when I’ve shown up at their apartments because they’ve said they’re coming. It’s the awkward silences at church when I mention disasters like Pulse, and things like Trans* day of remembrance. It’s bible studies with the Pastor because apparently I’m deconstructing my faith.

It is so much more than that, though. It’s quiet moments where I pray with my LGBT friends and watch the Holy Spirit touch them. It’s in the questions that come from Christians who genuinely want to understand how they can love me and my communities. It’s in joking with drag queens when they catch on that you’re kinda straight-laced and being the only Uncle in church who hand makes birthday presents.

Navigating the Queer Christian world is less about what you ascribe to, and more about what you stand for. It’s less about what other people think about you, and more about what you think about yourself. Being a Queer Christian is about knowing yourself, and loving yourself, and letting the love of God shine through you on to anyone that wanders across your path, regardless of age, gender, race, beliefs or sexuality. In some ways, I think Queer Christians are the ones that get it right. They are the rebels – but wasn’t Jesus a rebel? They are the outcasts, belonging to two worlds but never resting in either – and wasn’t Jesus both man and God, the bridge between man and God, fully God and fully man?

In the end, Christians and LGBT people are fighting for an ideology that they can hold on to. Jesus said I came not to abolish the law, but fulfil it. Jesus contains everything needed to make us whole again, and I think we forget that in our scramble to be right. Following Jesus is not about being the most literally right – you’re not going to get to heaven based on how many scriptures you know and how many rules you follow. You’re going to be asked, “Did you love the least of these?”

Did you?

Why Using My Name is a Matter of Respect to God

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” ~ Genesis 32:28

In the Bible, when people encounter God and become changed, oftentimes God will grant them a new name. Gideon became Jerubbal. Sarai became Sarah. Jacob became Israel.

Jacob’s story is rather unique, though, in the fact that he was left physically changed as well as changed psychologically. When Jacob wrestled with God, he basically demonstrated all of the knowledge and power that had been taught to him through his journey with God. God could not beat him – so Jacob was blessed instead.

Jacob was given a broken hip, to always remind him of his need for God, and he was also given a new name, to remind him that God had a great plan for him and his descendants. When you are given a name by God, it not only serves to define your identity, but it serves to define your future.

I got into an argument with one of the leaders of my church just the other day because she refused to use my name, Micah. More than that, by refusing to use my name, she was also refusing to acknowledge the identity that God is creating in me.

God put the name Micah on my heart when I was just beginning to take baby steps to accepting myself as trans. Originally I was going to be Angel, or Bobby, or something like that. When I was looking up baby names to figure out my new identity I stumbled across Micah. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge then that I really wanted to change my name, but Micah stuck with me.

Then I wrote a sermon about the Prophet Micah. He was such a man of prayer! He worked tirelessly to bring Israel out of apostasy. I knew, when I wrote this sermon, that if I were to become a man that I wanted to be like Micah. I believe God orchestrated it when I stumbled across my name on that baby names website, and I believe he let me do that sermon (The last one I did at my old church, by the way) so that I could have a role model.

This is why it hurts when people refuse to use my name and pronouns. I believe that God has been orchestrating my life to get me to this point, down to the name that I have chosen. It’s a matter of respect over my journey, but it’s also a matter of respecting the God who is leading me on this journey. People who refuse to acknowledge my name are putting God into the box that they’ve created for him, conservative and narrow. The God that I believe in is capable of so much more than what can be contained in the box. God’s arms are big enough to hold all of the mess that we put ourselves in.

~ Micah

My First Queer Church

Do you know what it’s like to be in a church where there’s only one heterosexual couple? If you’re like most of us, you don’t.

What you probably can relate to is being excluded by the church. Like me, you’ve been refused communion, been refused the opportunity to use your gifts, and just generally not invited to church functions that are not outreach oriented.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend The Lighthouse of Hope Christian Fellowship. I was insecure, skeptical as to what everyone being welcome meant, and was so hurt and broken by the Body of Christ that it seemed easier to avoid new things than take a chance. My friend Tori, a trans woman not that it matters….but let’s face it, it does, invited me for the weekend.img_1434

I was housed by her friend Jack, a trans man who has hand written scripture verses as artwork hanging all over the house. I was able to decompress from the past decade of suppressing my sexuality, be validated and be cared for.

On Sunday, we went for brunch like a bunch of cliche LGBTQ friends….but no, I did not have mimosas.  Then we went to help set up for church. Church happens in an old banquet hall at 4pm every Sunday. It’s a place where the motto is “Everyone is Welcome, and we mean it!”. This phrase is displayed on the overhead projector for all to see, and they really do mean it! There’s people from all walks of life, pets and an online church following. No one singles you out but everyone makes you feel welcome. There’s hugging, worship, prayer and communion.img_1439

Two things from my time at this church brought me to tears and healed my wounded heart for the first time in a very long time.

First, I was invited to play the piano after soundcheck was completed. See, my friend Tori that I mentioned before knew that I used to be a worship leader. She knew that I had been missing that part of my life within the church, and we got there early specifically so that I’d have that opportunity. At first, I felt awkward, and then something beautiful happened. I let my guard down. I played like I hadn’t had a two year break from the piano. I sang from the depth of my soul–from my pain, from my joy of belonging, from my burden of being one of the marginalized at the edge of the church. In those moments, I felt close to God again, I felt his love, I felt that my calling had not changed, and I felt at home.

Second, after listening to Sarah (a trans woman) bring a glorious truth filled word about God’s generosity and obedience in giving–we had communion. As the helpers passed out the wafer and the juice, I watched in awe as there was zero trace of pretence and awkwardness–as we sometimes notice in Contemporary Church. Each member of the congregation was keenly aware of the preciousness of those around them. I began to tear up. Each one of these folks believes that I am perfect as made and perfect in Christ. At no time were we asked to examine our hearts before taking communion. At no time were pet sins mentioned requiring repentance before God as a preemptive deed leading up to the Eucharist.

We were covered by grace, created in the image of God and therefore invited to remember how that good news happened. It was the first time I was invited to participate in communion since April. I didn’t realize how important those rituals, of remembering Jesus together with other believers, were. I didn’t realize how much I was in survival mode. Mostly, I just didn’t realize.

I’m going to go back.

More importantly, I am going to help the same thing to happen here.img_1430

My First Hate Mail: LGBTQ+ and Christianity Part 2

I wasn’t intending to write a follow up entry to the lovely post about my mom, but less than twenty four hours after I praise her for being unconditionally loving and supportive of me–someone professing to be a follower of Christ said some very rude, hurtful and shameful things. Rather than repeat those things, I would like to take this moment to turn it around for praise.

Thank you for being concerned enough about my salvation to publicly humiliate me. I forgive you. This is not sarcastic or tongue and cheek–I mean it. Rather than turn me away from the Christian faith, those hurtful words highlighted the importance of love and grace when delivering truths to one another.

Paul said, 

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (NIV, Biblegateway.org )

If I or my brothers and sisters in Christ cut one another down in effort to stand for truth or righteousness–we are missing the point. Jesus said :

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.
32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High,because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36. (NIV Biblegateway.org)
In my understanding, regardless of which side of the great debate you find yourself on, you’d do well in the sight of the Lord to be merciful, to love those who mistreat you and treat others the way you want to be treated. If you can say with all integrity you wish believers to slander you publicly and treat you with wrathful disdain if they believe you to be sinning–I will certainly pray for your view of God and of justice. 
Jesus was moved by compassion, the only harsh words he spoke were to legalistic religious leaders. Look at the woman caught in adultery, the conversation with Pilate, the tax collector, the leper who told everyone Jesus healed him when instructed not to, look how he treated Peter after his denial of Christ…compassion is the rule of the day. 
 
They will know we are his disciples by our love for one another–not by how loudly we oppose one another.
~Cheryl