Recently, Whosoever conducted a “Stories of Hope” essay contest, asking readers to reflect on what Whosoever has meant to them over the past ten years. We’ll be sharing these stories as we continue our celebration of our decade of ministry to GLBT Christians. The following story won second prize in our contest.
Lincoln Rose began reading Whosoever nearly 10 years ago when he was a lesbian.
When the now 30 year old trans-man was living as a lesbian in Michigan, he found himself shunned by the evangelical friends he had made in high school when he revealed his lesbianism, “because that’s what they were taught to do,” he said.
Lincoln turned to the Internet to find support and Whosoever appeared on the screen and he began his journey into wholeness as a transgender person.
Lincoln wasn’t raised in a Christian home.
“I had never really heard anything about Jesus except my mom and I would watch Jesus Christ Superstar every year with a bowl of popcorn. All she ever told me was that Jesus was a nice guy who got killed because he thought everybody should be equal,” he said.
At age 15, he met he became a Christian after making friends with some evangelical kids who were in a youth choir. Despite the friendships, he remembers feeling frustrated and suicidal during high school.
“I remember thinking to myself that I have two options: I can either take myself off this planet and not deal with it anymore, or I could become a lesbian for a while and at least be next to girls and get some practice while I figure this whole thing out,” he said.
Those pieces began to fall into place a few years ago when he heard about the murder of transgender women in Detroit.
“I remember thinking that at least they died being honest about who they are. Then, I thought, ‘whoa, where did that come from?'” he said.
Shortly after that incident, he began counseling and started talking with other transgender people and even told his wife when they met seven years ago that he thought he was a man but was still “checking into it.” However, giving up his lesbian identity wasn’t easy.
“I got to the point where calling myself a lesbian felt like a coat that your mom buys you and you grow for a couple of years and then you put it on again and it sort of fits but it’s too tight in the shoulders and not really comfortable but you keep wearing it because your mom spent all that money on it,” he said.
But, he finally shed that coat a couple of years ago, telling his wife, Azura that he had decided to transition.
“Finally!” was her response, said Lincoln.
Through those years, Lincoln said Whosoever had served as the guardrail for his faith.
“I’ve been outside the church for so long – in fact I just recently landed at a church where I feel comfortable – so I’d been doing my own thing, reading books, interacting with people and doing study on my own but I like to come back to Whosoever as that guardrail. As queer identified folks it’s easy to run into people who tell us not to believe the things we do. Whosoever is sacred to me because whenever I look at different ideas, and I formulate a theological thought, I like to come back to Whosoever and check it out with what’s already on the site. For me it’s been something that keeps me on track. I formulate ideas to support myself as a trans Christian and come back to Whosoever to make sure I’m on the track and am not going to run my car over the embankment,” he said.
So far, Whosoever has served its purpose for Lincoln, provided a smooth theological ride. As he transitions, however, how he sees and uses Whosoever is in transition as well.
“Right now, with trans specific theology it’s a little bit less of a guardrail and more of a garden because trans specific theology is still in its infancy so there are fewer already formulated ideas out there. Now I use Whosoever to see what other people are thinking. It’s less for keeping myself in line and more for looking at ideas,” he said.
Now living in Seattle, Lincoln is taking divinity classes online and hopes soon to be able to legally marry Azura when his birth certificate in changed.
Things have not been easy for the couple. They recently found themselves homeless for awhile after they both lost their jobs. They are now getting back on their feet with Lincoln temping and Azura teaching pre-school. All in all, Lincoln is feeling blessed to finally be able to be honest with himself.
“I love the way my body is right now. I’ve got two years on the hormones, a beard, my voice changed. Doing the transition physically and being physically more comfortable with who I am has helped me be comfortable being out as a Christian in the community.”
The founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, Rev. Candace Chellew earned her Masters of Theological studies at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Her first book, “Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians”, was published by Jossey-Bass in 2008. She currently serves as the Spiritual Director of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C.