We're here, we're queer and we're... Christians?
written by Jay Routh (they/them)
I recently received a message on a dating app from a total babe; “is that a Saint Sebastian tattoo on your arm?!” It absolutely is! I eagerly asked if they were a Christian too, I have a tonne of tattoos and a lot of religious ones. But good old Sebastian is hard to pin-point unless you know what you’re looking at. Unfortunately, total babe was an art history student, and they didn’t think queer Christians existed. And yet here I am. I am probably the opposite of the image of a Christian you’re used to. I have a shaved head, lots of tattoos and my home decoration is equal part pride flags and band posters. I’m visibly and vocally out in all areas of my life. Including Church.
I came out as transgender when I was in my mid-twenties, after nearly a decade of being queer. It was the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health. I remember being a teenager and hopelessly in love with my straight best friend. It was torture. I prayed every day to become a boy so she could love me. Now I pray with gratitude for being a boy, so I can love myself. But at the same time I was experiencing this joy, me and my partner of twelve years broke up. I stopped getting invited to nights out with my daughter’s friends’ parents. I stopped getting invited to lesbian events I had been going to for years. I had my family, and a handful of friends, but I had lost any sense of community overnight. How could I be so happy but so alone?
During this time of complete turmoil, I went to a church service with my daughter’s Brownie group. I hadn’t set foot in a Church since I was a kid, and I was honestly nervous to walk in. This particular minister happens
to be one of the funniest men I’ve ever met and me and my daughter laughed together through him
telling Bible stories for the children. After the service he came up to me and told me “God loves
happy people! God loves and accepts all people!” It had been a long time since I had felt
unconditional acceptance, and I cried in the car park afterwards.
I found the sense of community I had been so desperately craving in the Church. I found a group of people who respect me, listen to me and wish me all the best. They might not understand me all the time, but they listen. The best Church services are exactly like the kind of podcasts I like, they make me think about how I relate to myself and how I relate to the world. They remind me to be humble, be thankful and to trust the process.
Obviously, there are bigoted people in the Church. There are bigoted people in any group. I have met many racist, transphobic and misogynistic people in gay clubs. I try to direct my energy away from the negative people and experiences and feed energy into spaces and people who celebrate me. That encourages me to celebrate myself too.