When I came out of the closet, I was in my mid-30’s and quite involved in a conservative Christian church. It wasn’t customary to hear positive things being said from the pulpit about the LGBTQ+ crowd. In fact, it was sternly preached as ungodly and sin.
Married to a man with three teens and living in a society where homosexuality was still very much taboo, I sat week after week praying to a God who I believe did not create me “straight”.
The more I prayed, the more I listened. The more I questioned some pretty big things.
And, I made some pretty big decisions.
Needless to say, once word got out that I was leaving my husband to “be gay”, I wasn’t welcome in that church anymore.
That was over ten years ago, and though it was a rough emotional road for some years after, today I can look back and appreciate the lessons my family and I learned about ourselves, each other, and God.
See, I had been on a “seek God” journey for over a decade in the church. I wanted to know and serve God as best as I could – as a wife and as a mom.
But inside I knew I was trying to fit into a heterosexual world as a lesbian. I was following the herd, petrified to come out, so I stayed locked in the closet and locked inside myself.
Until the question, “Who am I really?” screamed in my head so loud that I just couldn’t ignore it any longer.
I understand growing up in a world where you don’t feel safe to be who you truly are. In my day and age, children could be removed from a mother’s home if she came out as a lesbian. Today, maybe that’s not the case, but there’s still plenty of fear surrounding living what we feel to be true about ourselves sexuality-wise.
However, knowing and acknowledging our truth – sexuality-wise, we can learn so many valuable lessons along our LGBTQ+ journey.
Who Am I? The Big Questions
It’s common for men and women to start asking themselves the big existential questions usually in their thirties and forties. That’s usually when they’ve tried all sorts of things “out there” to try to find some sort of inner peace and joy and have come up short.
I started questioning my sexuality at age 17 but didn’t accept it for almost 20 years. I turned to the church to help squelch those desires – to the God of the church too, but that didn’t do it for me.
When I’d had enough emotional hell, I really started digging and questioning myself at my deepest, core being of my being. I drew a line in the sand and said no longer would I accept social programming. I was ready to live by the truth of who I really was.
At that time, I wasn’t all that concerned about what everyone else’s relationship with God was like. It became more personal to me: What my relationship with this inner mystery was and was becoming.
My LGBTQ+ journey helped me begin and to make a habit to look inside for answers, rather than outside. It still helps me to look past the mask that we so often wear, and deep down into the soul.
Mark Thompson, who wrote Gay Spirit/Gay Soul, sees the LGBTQ+ community as, “carriers of soul to a world that prefers to dwell on surfaces.”
Haters of the LGBTQ+ for any reason tend to refuse to look past the surface. They see a self-identified label and judge it and the person harshly. However, many in the LGBTQ+ community have put on their shit-kickers to do some real self and spiritual digging with the question, “Who am I really?” in the forefront of their minds.
Any spiritual journey can teach one to embrace a hundred different things: authenticity, humility, patience, compassion, kindness, peace, and so on.
The LGBTQ+ spiritual journey is no exception. It’s just that they may be stirred up at an earlier age due to the questioning of sexuality oftentimes in the teen or early adult years.
A Spiritual Journey
Any spiritual journey begins with asking questions such as “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” We want to know our unique identity.
It’s being able to integrate our not-always-so-popular unique identity into our lives, today, and ongoing. The world wants us one way (straight), but we’re invited to be who we truly are, freeing ourselves from religious expectations.
The LGBTQ+ spiritual journey shouldn’t be all that different than the heterosexual journey, because the spiritual plane isn’t about who you’re attracted to intimately.
It’s about spiritual understanding and growth. Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bi, or transgender, you’re truly the same at your core – a radiant spirit created by a mighty God.
One thing I love about spirituality is that we don’t have to choose between our sexuality and our spiritual beliefs. We can authentically be who we truly are – which is spirit – and show up in the world as LGBTQ+’s in a way that makes sense for us – hopefully in love and compassion.
A writer and poet who worked for 12 years in the mental health field, Dominica Applegate is the author of the book Recycle Your Pain: It Has a Purpose and a poetry collection titled The Pain, It Shapes Her World. Her work has been published in Elephant Journal, Mind Body Green, CafeTruth, Sober Living, and The Addiction Advisor.