I grew up in the church. I grew up loving Jesus and trusting in God. As a child, I was told that the church was my family, that after we died we would be together forever in heaven. I was told that even if I had nothing else I would have the church: my siblings in Christ.
This all changed with the postal survey. The church was supposed to be my family. They were supposed to love me no matter what, because we are all equal under God, and Christ loved us first. But I found myself becoming a second class citizen. My identity was labelled ‘an issue’. I was not appropriate for children or even teenagers. I was a threat to the fabric of the family and society.
Every Sunday I looked around my church and felt more and more alone. I saw people in my family call LGBTQIA+ people degenerates. I saw people I once may have counted as friends sit by in silence when they were told that if I raised a child they would be damaged. To add ultimate insult to injury they did all this while saying that they loved me.
I ended up going to church and looking around at the people I thought were supposed to be my family, wondering which of them despised my non-heterosexuality and considered me an inherent danger to children. Everyone became a potential threat.
It hurt, but I was managing, until my danger to children became the publicly accepted stance of the leadership team at the church I had attended, and everyone in the audience sat there in complicit silence. Then I realised I was alone. I had no family left. I didn’t know if they’d ever been my family. They just wanted a woman who was heterosexual, and when I couldn’t give it to them I was tossed aside ‘out of love’.
So I left.
I never stopped believing in God or trusting in Christ, but I couldn’t stay in the church – my so-called ‘family’. Family is not supposed to make you want to die. Family is not supposed to convince you that you are worthless. There are Christians who’ve supported me, who have loved me in a Christ-like manner, but the Anglican church has made it very clear that I’m not wanted, and my prayer is that one day it will realise what it did to me, and even though I’ll likely be long gone by then, I pray it will vow to never repeat what it has done to us. May others live the life I never could.