Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sunday Clothes

I am a religious queer. How strange it sounds, even on the page. How much funnier it is for me to live. In high school the kids in the gay-straight alliance couldn't believe I was still Christian, and most of the Christians I knew wanted to believe that if I loved Christ, I wouldn't be queer. I fit into no one's plan. I didn't fit into the two-by-two, male and female model of Noah's arc. But neither would I drown out my God if he told me to build an arc. I am sorry for my analogies - they were far better in my head. Such is the way.

What does it mean to live under the raised eyebrows of both my communities? What does it mean to get out of bed with my girlfriend and let her help me put on my Sunday clothes and walk with me to church? In my mind's eye, we are as every churchgoing young couple should be. We share a hymnal and she holds my hand through the sermon. Sometimes I forget that we are different. Sometimes I even wonder when one of the sweet older church ladies is going to ask us when we're getting married. I remember, always, that this will not happen. Not yet, the voice inside tells me. Someday. 

I don't want us to pretend to be anything other than what we are, my love. We are not straight, we are not vanilla. We swear and sometimes we drink and we do things at night that mostly you can only read about online. None of that matters. The fact is that one of the ways I demonstrate my love for you is to connect that love with my faith.

And so I take you to church. I try with every ounce of my being to make you smile, to hold my hand just a little tighter, to kiss me with as much joy as Sunday morning can bring you. In showing you my faith, I want to show you the best of myself. I take you to church so that you can be there when my crooked heart opens to God - and to you.


This was the first Holy Week I spent alone. This was the first year of my life that I spent this time outside the church. And so the season of Lent, for me, culminated in silence. In years past, before college, I was head acolyte for the church in my hometown. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday were a marathon of church-going. "Where you there when they crucified my Lord?" was the constant refrain in my shower. A doleful, joyous refrain. But such is Good Friday, at least for me. The smell of slow-burning candles in the shrouded church. Young acolytes fitted into their first vestments, feeling the heft of the cross for the first time. The tap of shoes on the aisle, a parade to the alter. The veneration of the cross: a moment when the men and women I aspired to become knelt before the cross, and wept. Tears shed as the bred was broken over the stripped alter. But the silence then was of a different kind: my community in mourning, in expectation, ready to exalt in the light of Easter morning. Not so with me, not this year. The candles burned in my heart, the fasts continued in memory, the somber, unspoken joy felt in the light of each dawn. For the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to transform my heart out of grief alone. The bells were rung, but only I heard them.

On Easter Sunday, my girlfriend and I were strangers in a strange land: a Baptist church in a nearby town. We held hands. I kissed her at the end of the service, sacramentally. And yet, there was no Eucharist: Easter left with a question instead of an answer. Next Sunday, when we return to our home church, we will receive the bread and wine. Somehow, I have yet to fully come home, to feel the risen Christ in every fiber of my being. Perhaps that is how it was meant to be. I cannot do this alone. Like the prodigal son, I return home. I expect nothing, but perhaps so much more will be given.

Monday, April 1, 2013


"Be mindful of the children."

I was kissing her at the Peace of the Lord. It was a kiss I had seen modeled for me over the course of twenty years, by my parents. It was Palm Sunday. Sixth months ago my girlfriend and I had become the first openly gay couple at our church. Sixth months later, on that Palm Sunday, we were told to be mindful of the children by a woman who was not a mother.

All I felt was shame.

So, it is time to add my voice: the struggle is not over. I am twenty, gay, femme, and Episcopalian. I am figuring it out. This online journal is my story. All of this will be true and honest. Here, in these pages, will be my heart.