She Came Out in a Letter–For Worse, and for Better!

This weekend reader Jenni emailed me the below. What better day than National Coming Out Day to share it with you?

Hi, John.

I wrote to you before and gave you my testimony to include in your next book [being Wings on a Pig, ready soon]. I wanted to update you a bit on my situation. I have recently moved and started graduate school, and I have really enjoyed being able to start over here. Having finally decided that God doesn’t hate me because I’m gay, I am choosing to live as a gay Christian here at grad school. My orientation and my faith are both integral parts of who I am, and I’ve been amazed at the wonderful people here who love and accept me just as I am and aren’t bothered by either. I am getting to know people at my “open and affirming” church, people in my degree program, and also members of the campus LGBT group.

However, because I’m “out and proud” here, several of my fundamentalist Christian friends have become concerned about what they’ve seen posted on my blog or on my Facebook page. I had already decided to make National Coming Out Day my personal coming out day, when I’ll place a picture of my empty closet on Facebook and post an article on my blog describing my journey to this spot. I knew that this would be a bit of a shock to my friends, especially my fundamentalist Christian friends (many of whom have already decided I must be a bit nuts for wearing pants to church, going to movies in theaters, and getting a tattoo), so I decided it would be best to come out to them by letter beforehand.

It was really hard to write the letter that I sent to them. I wasn’t sure how they’d all react to it, but I was pretty sure that some of their reactions would not be positive, and, as I still haven’t met a ton of people in this new town, I was afraid I’d be left alone.

I asked Jenni if she’d share with me the coming out letter she wrote and sent to her friends. Here it is (she said I could share it with you guys):

I am, obviously, super happy to be here. I have my own apartment and my own kitchen that I can use whenever, and sheets on my bed, and no one shouting or cussing in the middle of the night, and no maintenance men randomly walking through my house, and there’s a Starbucks and a Barnes & Noble within reasonable driving distance from my house. And I get to study how to be a librarian. All of this is very cool. It’s so nice to be able to be myself, probably for the first time ever.

I don’t know how much you’ve been able to follow my blog, but it should be pretty apparent that I’m not a fundamentalist anymore. I did a lot of thinking and praying and studying about denominations, and some of the beliefs that used to be super-important to me and just aren’t anymore. Absolutely I am still a Christian, absolutely I still believe in salvation, but some things – mostly outward things like dress standards and music standards and whether it’s okay to drink or play with face cards or whatever- those things just aren’t a big deal to me anymore. It’s unfortunate that you weren’t able to visit while I was still in SF – I would have loved to take you to my church there. It was completely different from [our old church], yet still completely amazing. I loved worshiping with other believers there and serving the community together. Some people might have been turned off by the guitars and drum set on the stage, or the fact that women were ushering, but those people really love Jesus. I loved being able to get to know people with backgrounds completely different from mine, with beliefs I was not familiar with, who still love God and want to serve Him.

The church I’m attending here is yet a different flavor—different both from my church in SF and from [our old church].  I’m at a UCC church here. I’d never attended a UCC church before. They have a program they follow in the service—with the pastor speaking parts and the congregation speaking parts and stuff—and I’m definitely not used to that. I’m still in the church-shopping phase, so I’m not absolutely certain I’m staying at this church, but I definitely want to give it a try. The people are very friendly and accepting and welcoming of everyone.

Recently I’ve become more comfortable with aspects of my personality and who I am than I have ever been in the past, and I’m starting to discover more of the real Jenni, instead of the Jenni who’s wearing a mask to make her parents happy or her college profs happy or her administrators happy. It’s been a good thing and an amazing thing—my body isn’t nearly as tense as it used to be, and I’m meeting people who like me just because I’m me, instead of liking the teacher-face or the good-student-face or the super-compliant-child-face I used to put on.  Because of that, I’ve been a lot more open about myself with those around me here.

It’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to be in in touch more often (that’s as much my fault as anything else—I rot at long-distance communication), because our friendship is important to me. In fact, it’s important enough that I wanted to make sure you know something: I am a lesbian. I have known this about myself since probably third grade, but because I was able to watch others’ reactions to the GLBT community, I chose to keep this deeply hidden for a long time. I tried to seek healing from this, thinking it to be a super-huge super-scary sin problem, but through much thought, prayer, study, talking with my therapist, etc., I have come to the conclusion that this is not really the case.

Being here has been an opportunity for me to start over, for people to meet the Jenni I really am—a person who loves Star Trek and NCIS and Bones, who likes to read and play with Legos, who loves cooler weather because it means she can dress in lots of layers and drink pumpkin flavored coffee, who still doesn’t like vegetables no matter how hard she tries, etc. etc. My orientation is as much a part of that mix as my faith is, which is not a problem to people who are just meeting me, but might be a bit of a shock to those who knew me when I was a teacher, a college student, or a kid living at home. It wasn’t until now that I have felt comfortable sharing this part of myself with those who are closest to me, but I respect you a lot, and value your friendship, so I didn’t want to hide this part of me, or try to pretend to be something I’m not.

I understand that this was a lot to take in. Likely you have some questions or concerns and may wish to talk to me about them or talk to someone else or just have some time to process. I completely understand, and I am willing to enter into a discussion with you to address your questions or whatever. Like I’ve said already, you and your friendship are important to me, and because of my respect and love for you, I didn’t want to live with you knowing only a façade of Jenni.

Love,

Jenni

I asked Jenni how her friends had responded to her letter. She wrote me back:

One friend wrote,

“I believe that the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is sin. Therefore, giving into those temptations is sin just as giving into any type of sexual sin is wrong. Because of this, I cannot in any way condone your choice to pursue a lesbian lifestyle. That is where I stand. I am and will be praying for you my friend. My goal was to speak the truth in love. I hope that I have been able to communicate both of those things to you.”

She signed this stiff letter with “sincerely,” as though I was a business from whom she deserved a refund or something.

Another friend said,

“I don’t think a gay person goes straight to hell, any more than any other person who has a sin problem – an adulterer, or a drunkard perhaps.”

It got to the point where I didn’t even want to check my inbox for fear of what would be lurking there. I actually decided not to be online after a certain time at night so that I wouldn’t go to bed with all of these hurtful messages in my head.

But in some cases, I was wrong. Some friends were amazingly, surprisingly supportive. One friend wrote,

“You are the same person to me that you always have been– I’ve always loved you as you are– I’ve always appreciated your being real with me, and that I know that you are not unfamiliar with the Scripture, or unsaved :-) 1. I love you. 2. It doesn’t matter that you are lesbian. I still love you.  3. I know that you love Jesus!”

Tonight I heard back from the last person in my recent rash of coming out letters.  She wrote,

“I love you, my friend and am still proud to call you such! … Are you pursuing a relationship, or just enjoying the single life for now? Don’t feel like you must hide who you are … ever.  I am not going to judge you or act as if I consider you to be living in sin. I have no business calling the shots for anyone spiritually or personally. Know that I love you and support your right to choose. I know this probably hasn’t been the easiest thing for you to tell some people. I will be praying with you my friend. I hope you are able to see God’s greatest blessings on your life. And I look forward to our continued friendship.”

Thank you, John, for writing what you do, and for advocating for love and acceptance, things I think Jesus approves of highly. I read your blog, and I remember that it will get better.

Jenni

The next day, I got this in from Jenni:

Here’s one of the responses to my coming out letter that I just got in. How in the world does a person respond to a message like this? 

“Words can’t even begin to describe how saddened I was to read your email last weekend, Jenni. I had noticed a few things on your Facebook that concerned me, but your email confirmed any questions that I had. Struggles and temptations aren’t sin unless we give into them. I realize I’m not a writer, like you, and I’m not sure that anything I could write to you would convince you to come back to what you know is the Truth of God’s Word. But please know that that is exactly how I am praying for you.”

To me, this sounds like the opposite of love and support and concern. To me, this sounds like the reason we have so many GLBT teens who are depressed and/or suicidal—when their friends and families say things like this out of their “concern.” My first thought when I read this email from my friend was, “You didn’t really read what I wrote. All you saw was the word ‘lesbian’, and you ran for the hills. This is a very big deal to me, and yes, I have spent years thinking and praying and studying and wrestling over it. Somehow I doubt you’ve studied the issue at all. Probably you are echoing just what you’ve heard from the pulpit, instead of wrestling through this issue on your own. Possibly you were well-intentioned when you wrote this, but now is not the time for ‘tough love.’ And you’re basically saying that I’m a confirmed, permanent heathen, barring any miracle or answer to prayer. Thanks, but no thanks.”

John, is there even any point in continuing a conversation with a person like this?  I am relatively certain I’ll not change her mind, and she doesn’t seem open to admitting that there are, indeed, other interpretations of the Bible, and that maybe, just maybe, she isn’t completely correct in everything she thinks. And I might not be completely wrong, either. In any case, where is the grace in this letter? I don’t see it, and I can see now why so many of my GLBT friends have given up on Christianity. If it weren’t for my open and affirming church here, I’d probably do the same.

The entirety of my next email to Jenni was:

I’d toss this person out of my life so fast she’d get whiplash.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Allie

    Well, I’m more concerned that she doesn’t like vegetables. Vegetables are good for you! ;)

    I’m not sure how to say what I’m thinking. On the one hand, I feel like the judgmental friend doesn’t deserve to be written off too quickly. She doesn’t get it… but then it took Jenni herself years to get it. It isn’t easy or obvious how to maneuver between the messages of the fundamentalist church regarding Christian love and the reality of what is loving.

    On the other hand, I feel like gay people have enough to put up with already without having to educate every misguided fundie they encounter. There’s no obligation to put up with hurtful people. My inner snark would just write back that I would pray for her to learn the meaning of love and kindness, and leave it at that.

    I know I would literally rather take a beating than go to sleep knowing someone wrote me a mean email. Best wishes Jenni, hang in there! Congratulations on coming out.

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      I hesitated with that very issue – should I just give my friend a second, or third (or eighty-ninth) chance? The thing is, my friend didn’t really leave the topic open for dialogue, and I don’t want to run 47 separate email debates with my friends about whether or not it’s okay to be Christian and gay. They’re all reasonably intelligent adults who can make their own decisions, and I’m not likely to change their minds. I did have one friend who has been writing me with a bunch of questions – I don’t mind answering questions, because she just wants to know more about the issue before she makes a decision, and she definitely left the door open for us to still be friends. But I don’t want to deal with people who want me to “fake straight” just so they can stop worrying about my salvation.

      • DR

        I would just love and enjoy the parts of your friends that you can and do not tolerate one tiny percentile of her trying to “save” you. Just don’t, just say it’s not up for discussion if doing so causes you pain or undue discomfort. If it’s *good* for you, if it sharpens your description of who you are? Of your faith in Christ? If you are more emboldened by Him and in Him as you engage her? Then go for it! But I’d protect yourself from that helpless despair that so many gay and women go through when dealing with these kinds of people. It’s not up to you to change her, that’s the Holy Spirit’s job and she has to be open to it. Don’t sacrifice too much of your hard-won battle for this person. xoxo

      • http://thaliasmusingsnovels.wordpress.com/ Lore

        I would tell the judgmental friend that you love God and the truth of his word as much as she does, and that’s *why* you can’t violate God’s commands by living a lie. She’s asking you to choose between living openly as a lesbian, which may or may not be a sin (we know it isn’t; I’m just saying for the sake of argument), and living every day of your life as a liar, which is most definitely a sin, no way around it. She probably still won’t get it, at which point I think it would be appropriate not to initiate further communication.

        Congratulations on your choice to be true to yourself *and* to not give up on God, even knowing how some people will treat you in his name. God made you who you are and loves you because you’re you, not in spite of it.

  • Lee

    I really do hope that Jenni can focus on the positives and not dwell too much on the negatives. 12 years ago when I followed almost exactly the same path as Jenni, I did not get a single positive message from “friends” in my church. I got wailing, gnashing teeth phone calls, (facebook was not an option) and I got ZERO emails. Complete radio silence. Oh, and I got “excommunicated” publicly in my home church. That was fun–not. My faith took a royal beating during that time, and twelve years later it’s still a rough go for me and God. I’m not sure I’m over it—-

    The biggest piece of advice that helped me in the process of coming out came from my family doctor. He said: What I always say to people in your situation is if people have a problem with you, it’s their problem, not yours. Let them work out their own problems with you, homosexuality or whatever. You can’t solve their problems.

    Or you can go with the whiplash causing toss method. That works too! :)

  • john

    Jenni, I’m so glad you are able to express your true self. I know it must have taken a lot of courage. Anyone who likes Bones, NCIS, but not vegetables is near and dear to my heart. God Bless you as you continue your journey. You are His beautiful creation and He made you just the way you are! :)

  • Candace

    Jenni- I know these are your “friends” but if they can’t stand with you on this very sensitive topic then are they really worth an 89th chance? I mean really… I would stand with my friends with whatever topic they shared with me. For the people who won’t stand with you, I would probably answer them with some type of snarky response (if they’re criticizing your “sin” then I’m sure there’s a sin of theirs that you know about that you could throw in their face). And I’d probably change my email address if I kept getting harrassing emails from “concerned” friends.

  • Paula

    I don’t think one has to keep riding in to get beaten down, but it is worth remembering that people change their minds. Yesterday Rev. Scott Anderson was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (the first out gay person since their rules changed) and the sermon was preached by Rev. Paul Achtemeier a seminary professor who once thought this was “sin.”

    Achtemeier has said that it was getting to know Scott — reallizing that he was the better Christian — that got him to study the scriptures again, and finally change his mind.

    I don’t think we all can do everything — sometimes we just can’t, can’t, stand to hang in. But when we can hang in, the results may surprise us. Maybe we can back away but send a birthday card once a year, a note when you hear your former friend is suffereing, or has a life occasion to rejoice in. And trust that you will not be the last gay person she meets. God often works on people from several different directions.

  • Theresa

    I rejoice with you in your acceptance of who Jenni is and will be.

    I am also sorry that you’ve received all these wounds from your friends. I know that you are hurting from them. And I am so very glad you received the wonderful love letters from some of your friends. Hold on to those!

    Please know that some people who are concerned about your “life choice” actually love you very much and are trying in their best way to show that love to you in their ignorance. There are some who will never change and a few who will consider changing their views…and fewer still are those who will become enlightened themselves realizing that tolerance is different from acceptance.

    At one (long) phase in my Christianity, I may have written something similar. I thought myself to be very tolerant of other people and thought I was loving the sinner yet hating the sin. But inside my hidden heart, it hurt me to have to separate the two. Oddly, before I became a “christian” I didn’t think anything was wrong with so many things I shut out of my acceptance once I decided to let Jesus be the Lord over me.

    It was the offer of friendship with Jesus, whom I understood to be entirely loving, that drew me to him. I don’t remember how I put on the pharisee garb. But I found it ill fitting and uncomfortable until I decided that must be how the abundant life was. Jesus wasn’t loving anyone… even me. Because we all have sinned. Everybody. All the time. Trying hard was not enough. The weight of bearing the disapproval of God was suffocating.

    Finally, I came to the point of wanting to die. Literally hoping somehow I’d die to remove the pain of guilt and shame of who Theresa was. That was when I decided to put off those pharisee costumes and be me again. I love to love others again. Sometimes the shame of what I was taught in the vortex of fundamental Christianity, will try to rear back up. It hurts. and it hurts to know I was a part of hurting others.

    I finally wrote several people apologies for my former attempts at loving them. It was a difficult process to hear how my “loving” letters were so painful to the recipients of them. Finally, in asking for their forgiveness, freedom came.

    I am telling you all this because some of those who wrote you will one day change. I hope that you can find healing for their wounds. May I suggest deleting any of the letters you receive that are hurting you? Rereading those will only deepen the hurt.

    I love you, Jenni. Finally. Really. Love.

    I pray you can forgive us who are so blind to our own ignorance.

    Theresa

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      Theresa, I’m so glad that God still loves us and showers us with grace even as we change and grow and stumble through doing what we think He wants us to do. I, too, would have disagreed with myself only a few years ago, so I am choosing to be patient with my friends. But some of that patience may come in the form of leaving them be for a while until they choose to come back, if they choose to. Some of them might not be able to handle friendship with me for a while, and I’ve decided that that’s okay. The comments here and on my FB page have shown me that it really does get better and that there are lots of very kind human beings out there who will still be friends with me.

  • tim conard

    jenni,

    thank god for you.

    be proud, be happy, know love, seek beauty, feel joy.

    you are exactly who god made you to be.

    i don’t know you, but i love you and am proud of you.

    as to those who seek to turn you from yourself, know that they speek from ignorance, from fear, from hatred – but definitely not from god.

    wish i could tell you just what to do & say to change them, to open their hearts. sadly, i haven’t figured that out even for myself yet…

  • christy kennedy

    Jenni and John, I’m an atheist and from what I can tell from this one post, I love you both. I know it sounds like a cheap greeting card, but keep being exactly who you are.

  • christy kennedy

    Oh, and yes, keep your judgmental friends and family in your heart, for they may grow and change as time goes by. But when you feel that tipping point, where they’re causing you more pain than the relationship is worth, walk away. If they never come around, it’s sad, but it’s their loss.

  • Kat

    I for one am gravely concerned for Jenni… concerned because she clearly hasn’t had my mama’s delicious yellow squash casserole! No one could ever hate vegetables after eating that masterpiece. :)

    But seriously, Jenni, if you’re reading this, I know you don’t know me but I am so proud of you for coming out to your friends, knowing that they may not take the news well but loving and respecting them enough to give them the honest truth and keep the lines of communication open between you. I am a Christian and bisexual and I am fortunate enough to go to a wonderful Methodist church that is loving and accepting of me. Nobody has ever condemned me as a “sinner” for my orientation, and I know just how lucky I am to be in a place of such great love… growing up my family attended a very closed-minded Baptist church (I use the word ‘church’ lightly) and that place was the reason I spent almost a decade avoiding churches like the plague.

    I am so sorry that you have not been met with more positive responses from your friends, but I think this experience has definitely shown who your true friends are – the ones who love you absolutely, without conditions, without questions, without judgments – and the ones who love what they WANT you to be, what they think you “should” be, and cannot accept you as you are unless you fit that mold.

    I understand how hard it can be to lose friends, people you love and care deeply for, especially over something as inconsequential as your sexual orientation. Something that should mean nothing – that has no bearing on the other person’s life at all, that does not change who you are and the soul that resides within you – ends up becoming the very thing that tears the friendship apart. It really is sad, and it’s totally acceptable to shed a few tears over a friendship lost…

    But at the end of the day, that’s what it is – lost. Real friends love and accept you no matter what. Their love is unconditional, and strong. You saw that kind of love in some of the responses from your friends, wonderful, true friends – the ones who are not only accepting but truly supportive of you and your future relationships! They sound wonderful, and I am glad that you still have those people and that they will stand beside you and be your true friends. :)

    But as for the others… I really do not think it is worth your time and anguish trying to change those people’s minds, or be less of who you are around them in an attempt to make things peaceful between you. I think it may be time to say, “I love you, and I always will, but if you cannot love and accept me then I can’t have that kind of negativity in my life anymore. I deserve better.” Maybe one day those people will come around and realize how wrong they have been, but if not, you can rest easy knowing that you tried to reach out in friendship and honesty to them, and they could not accept it.

    Once again, major props to you for coming out! I hope that you find solace in the great friends you do have, because you clearly do have many of those. God bless!

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      Hi Kat,

      Your second-to-last paragraph pretty much sums up my response to my well-intentioned friends who are praying that I come back to the “truth I know from God’s Word” or however they put it. I still love them, and I still welcome a relationship with them, but for now I choose to distance myself from the negative messages they are sending my way. If that ever changes, then I welcome the chance to get to know them again.

      As for the veggies … I’m still not convinced. I can definitely eat them to be polite, if necessary, but I have never thought, “Wow, I need seconds of THIS!”

      • Kat

        You gotta learn how to cook veggies like a southerner… lots of cheese, lots of butter, and frying if necessary! Fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried yellow squash, fried zucchini… okay, so maybe frying veggies defeats the purpose of eating them to begin with, but at least you can say you ate them. :)

        Good luck in your future relationship with your friends… hopefully they will come around and learn how to love and accept you for who you are. You seem like a great person and I imagine they are losing out on quite a friendship.

  • http://acrossthestreetnovel.blogspot.com kat127

    I’m a former IFB and it makes me sick that some Christians think homosexuality is a choice, and that it’s a sin. I’m not sure what I believe anymore, but I sure as hell wouldn’t choose to be gay. So, I congratulate Jenni on her honesty. If you follow the logic of those who condemn homosexuality, then eating shrimp should be just as sinful! Deuteronomy 14:9-10

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      Eating shrimp, or wearing clothing made out of two fabrics, or being a disobedient child, or being raped and not crying out, praying without your head covered, speaking out in church (if you’re a woman), etc. etc. The list goes on and on, and if we really applied all of that, then all of us would be abominations.

      This is actually what started me on my journey to come out – I didn’t understand why, of all the 613 rules in the Old Testament, we followed the anti-gay ones and not the others. Who gets to choose what we follow and what we don’t? It didn’t make sense to me at all.

  • http://www.tamaraoutloud.com/ Tamara Out Loud

    I was just noticing the dearth of tweets in my Twitter feed this morning from Christians about National Coming Out Day, and it made me sad, but not brave enough to do something about it.

    Then I read this post.

    Sent out a tweet right away to let my LGBT friends know they have this Christian’s love, and more importantly, that they have God’s. Thank you for the push. Your story is important.

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      And thank you, Tamara, for being brave and showing support where lots of people would choose inaction. It’s people like you who help people like me to stay strong and keep smiling.

  • MizzMinx

    I have found that many of those that clain to be so devout and so consumed with scripture and the good book, are most often the ones with the most narrow minds, and closed hearts. So many of those that opnely attest to be so dedicated to faith can often be the ones who can see nothing else around them.

    I can tell you, based on what I have personally observed, that people can be cruel. People can be very closed minded, hurtful, inconsiderate and insensative. It’s always tough when suddenly you relaize you are not who you thought you were (or who they thought you were) , and/or that you cannot continue to “play along”. Those that truly cared about you, and loved you for YOU will understand. Those that were never in it wholeheartedly, you may lose. You CAN have your faith. The spirit and the relationship YOU have with the divine is very personal. I am not of the belief that anyone can tell you how that relationship is supposed to be. You don’t need religious dictators or zealots in your ear either.

    I think after what is sure to be a bumpy transition you will be fine! Keep your faith, and be open to guidance from within. You are on your path to meeting new people and finding new love in it’s many facets.

    If I were you, I would take what you need and leave the rest. Life is challenging enough without allowing others to take shots at you, or condem you. Leave all the nastiness and judgement behind and continue forward with youir faith, new found goals, and endeavors.

  • Melody

    Jenni,

    I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you. I can say, however, that you are a brave woman in the face of great hostility under the guise of “love” and “concern.”

    That said, my advice to you: Don’t give up on your less accepting friends. Here’s why: I used to be like them, following the passive-aggressive “Love the sin, hate the sinner” cliche. When I wasn’t around LGBT people, I was much less kind. But after getting out of small-town Texas and becoming close friends with people of various persuasions, I began to rethink my unkind and misinformed views, and now I’m a strident supporter of LGBT rights.

    All this to say, people can and do change. I’m not saying it will happen quickly; it took me a while. You may have to distance yourself from some of your friends before they come around. But I think that if they’re true friends, they’ll try to reconcile. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Again, kudos to you for taking this step in your journey. My thoughts and prayers are with you along the way.

    • http://www.alise-write.com Alise

      I absolutely agree with this. Take time away from them as you need. Don’t feel like you need to fix them, but maybe don’t abandon them altogether. It took you time to accept that part of yourself, and it will likely take others time to accept that part of you as well.

      Thank you for your courage. It’s not your job to make it easier for other people, but know that your words do just that.

  • textjunkie

    well, I can’t say I’ve been in Jenni’s shoes, but I was in her friends’ position, and it was a long, slow haul (embarrassingly slow, in retrospect) for me to come to grips with the fact that much of what I had been taught at momma’s knee about sex and sexual orientation was flat out wrong. Both wrong, and doing inestimable damage to children of God.

    You can toss ‘em forever, or you can toss ‘em until you are stronger in yourself and more healed from the wounds that they inflicted. Whether you keep open the option for later communication or not, I hope for you and for them that you can keep them in prayer and find forgiveness in your heart for them. Unlike one’s sexual orientation, they *can* change their understanding and position. But as the doc cited earlier pointed out, that’s their problem, not yours.

    • http://djfree/blogspot.com darren

      Agreed 100%. For many of us who are Christian and gay, it took us YEARS to achieve even a modicum of peace with our sexuality. It’s unrealistic to think that those who haven’t had the privilege of wrestling with this for a long time would achieve it quickly along with us. Most of our Christian friends aren’t really brought into the process until long after we’ve toiled alone for years. So some people need time.

      HOWEVER, it is STILL the case that I (several years after reconciling my sexuality and spirituality) just don’t have the emotional energy to walk some of my Christian friends down that road. It’s not my job, so I take no responsibility for it. Sometimes I have to leave them to wrestle alone. Other times, I think someone is worth it enough for me to go the extra mile and try to reason with them and walk them through how I got to where I am. But again, there is no responsibility on my part to do so. I simply do it when I can, how I can, because of love. But in my “airplane theology”, I don’t think it makes much sense to help someone else put there oxygen mask on until I get my own on. I have to take care of my own soul first.

      So maybe, Jenni, you need to not engage this person for awhile. Get your own soul cared for. Strengthen your knowledge, delve deeper into the peace between you and God. Maybe one day you’ll be able to engage this person. Maybe you never will. Maybe the engagement you embark upon is met with hostility, or maybe it’s met with kindness. Maybe they’ll change their mind. Maybe they won’t. There simply are no guarantees. All I know for sure is that it’s a long hard road, and we must learn to love ourselves – TRULY love ourselves – before we can ever know how to love anyone else.

      • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

        I absolutely agree with what you’ve said, and what others here have said as well. I don’t assume that my friends can or will change their views on this issue overnight, and I usually assume that their words to me, however hurtful, are usually well-intentioned. But I can’t lead them down this road or force them to change their minds, and at this point I don’t have the energy or wherewithal to debate this issue with them. When or if they are ready to come back and converse with me about this issue, I will more than willingly talk with them or be friends. Right now, though, I need to remove the negativity, so I’m choosing not to spend time around people who are judging me for something I’ve studied a whole lot longer than they have.

        • Diana A.

          Good for you!

  • Katie

    Jenni that takes so much courage and I am so very proud of you. I must admit that I still have plenty of fear about making such bold statements, and I greatly respect you as you walk this journey. Its hard to know what to do with people who do respond to us negatively. I lost a friend rather recently because of things I had posted on my facebook page who very aggressively attacked me in some very unkind emails. It was painful to see someone I care about approach me with so much anger, regarding something that in no way affected him or should have offended him. Its a hard cross to bear, but we don’t bear it alone. God is with us, and he is teaching us, and hopefully one day the conservative heterosexual followers will follow him into love for others instead of the judgementalism they currently follow.

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      I know what you mean about the pain in seeing someone you love and care about reacting with so much hostility. It’s been a bit amazing, because several of my friends were okay with my attending a non-fundamentalist church or listening to non-fundamentalist music or going to movies, wearing pants, getting a tattoo – all of these other things that I now think are okay that used to be very not-okay. But when it comes to something that’s so much more personal to me and more important than my dress standards or music choices – my orientation – then all of a sudden their hackles are up and they react the only way they know how – with anger.

  • Annie

    Dear Jenni,

    Congratulations on coming out! You are such a brave person to speak out, to acknowledge who you are and how right and wonderful you are as the real you. It is such a lonely place to live hiding who you are . I wish you happiness and kindness and love from people in your continuing journey that will far outweigh those who do not understand. Take all these loving words from people and put them under your pillow at night and sleep peacefully. Happy Coming Out Day!

  • John Slattery

    Dear Jenni,

    I’m an ex-Marine, Vietnam vet. Just below this link on facebook, the Marine Corps site had posted a quote. I think it says it all:

    “Marines

    ‎”If you want to be free, there is but one way; it is to guarantee an equally full measure of liberty to all your neighbors. There is no other.” – Carl Schurz”

    I’d add only ” . . . . and equality” after “liberty.”

    I’m perplexed by people who think that one’s sexual orientation is a matter of choice. Are they so lacking in introspection that they don’t realize that THEY never chose to be “straight” (or gay?) I have a brother and a step-son who are gay, and so, am I supposed to think they’re “living in sin” when they express their love as their nature (not nurture) directs them? Their nature is from God – and I suspect God knows what He/She/It is doing.

    Dear Jenni – don’t let the ignorant, the prejudiced, and the biased drag you down. Pray for them, instead; they certainly need all the help they can get.

    Love,

    John

  • stephen

    jenni,

    out and christian works very well together! using scripture to condemn homosexuality is misuse of interpretation, context, and exegesis. god does not put anyone into a double bind situation; some churches do. i applaud your decision to live out loud!

  • Christine McQueen

    I, myself, am not a lesbian. But I am what is referred to as a straight ally. And, yes, I have lost ‘friends’ because of it. I have some family members who refuse to read my Facebook notes because they’ve finally come to the conclusion they are never going to change my mind on Gay Rights, just as I know nothing I say will ever change their minds. Some refuse even to consider me a Christian any more because in the past thirty years I have not found a church I’m comfortable in. They simply cannot accept my own definition of Christian: One who believes in and follows the teachings of Christ Jesus. Which, btw, is what tells me some of them are simply not as Christian as they believe themselves to be. When I sent my sister a document to read and she said she’d ask her preacher about it before replying, that’s when I decided she’d turned off her brain. Like I told her, I didn’t want her preacher’s ideas about the document, I wanted HER’S! Too many people simply listen to the preacher on Sunday rather than reading Jesus’ teachings for themselves.

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      Very true – a lot of people don’t really want to think for themselves. Thinking is scary – you might accidentally conclude something different from what you’ve always believed, or you might decide an issue isn’t as black-and-white as you originally thought.

      Even before I was out, many of my friends raised their eyebrows at my open and affirming stance toward a lot of things; I just don’t think that so many of these “issues” are such a big deal. God likes variety, and He lets us disagree and be different and stumble along so we can help each other see Him better.

  • Cathy

    ((((Jenni)))) I am a retired teacher. For all those years, my partner was never spoken of at work and I walked the fine line of a closeted lesbian. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Congratulations on having chosen to be fully you to all who know you. I know that takes courage.

    Re: your friends who are immersed in the faulty Pauline reasoning. They do not realize how unChristian Paul was or how frequently he opposed Jesus’s teachings. Nor do they wish to consider another way of understanding Scripture. It is as frightening – or even more so – for them to do so than it was for you to consider coming out.

    If they will not receive you, bless them and shake the dust, so to speak. Just know that they speak from profound ignorance rather than malice. I’d write a blanket response saying that I respected their right to believe what they chose and would be praying for them as well, and I’d close with a clear ‘goodbye’ message saying that you realized that further discussion was unlikely to change their perspective as it was yours but that you wished them well in the life they have chosen.

    I wish you well, Jenni, in the life you choose to live as the lesbian woman God has created you to be.

    Cathy

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      Thank you, Cathy. I agree and have been attempting to leave the lines of communication open as much as possible without allowing my inbox (or FB page, or whatever) to be completely filled with negative messages. If and when my friends decide to open lines of communication again, I’d be more than willing to dialogue with them.

  • Jean

    A better response to the last email would be that you are praying for that person to learn in their heart what Jesus told us, to love one another. Use all the fundi language particular to your previous church environment to show that hate is a much bigger sin than is being who you really are.

  • A’isha

    Jenni, I understand exactly where you’re coming from and what you’re dealing with since I’m going through much of the same. Much of my experience has been on Facebook recently also. I’m clinging to all my friends that aren’t judging me, and the ones that do I’ve eliminated from my life yet I continue to pray for them.

    When you wrote this:My first thought when I read this email from my friend was, “You didn’t really read what I wrote. All you saw was the word ‘lesbian’, and you ran for the hills. This is a very big deal to me, and yes, I have spent years thinking and praying and studying and wrestling over it. Somehow I doubt you’ve studied the issue at all.

    I thought “wow, is that something I wrote??” It gets so frustrating when these people accuse me of not listening to them when they’re just repeating the same clobber verses over and over. They’re the ones not listening, and I’m sure I’ve studied the verses they’re giving me much more than they ever have. I imagine you’re feeling the same frustration I do.

    Just keep doing what you’re doing. Keep taking care of yourself (like not reading nasty emails right before bed) and keep living honestly. People that matter will see that and respect that, whether they agree or not that being LGBT isn’t a sin.

    Blessings to you sister!

    • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

      Right back at ya, A’isha! Thank you for being brave and sharing your thoughts here on John’s blog, too – you helped me be brave enough to go through with coming out today.

  • Karen

    I found Jesus through Evangelical churches and was nurtured by Bible studies, summer camps, and youth groups that all shared a very conservative theological perspective. I’m straight, but a childhood friend’s coming out, and his honest conversations with me about his search for real love, (which I could not help but see were exactly like my own heterosexual search for true love,) were part of a ‘crisis’ in my faith. At least I saw it as a crisis at the time.

    Fundamental to the conservative theology I came out of was the idea of ‘subjecting all things to God’s word’—all my human feelings, all my perceptions, even my own conscience, my own empathy, my own heart—(which I was taught was ‘deceitful and desperately wicked”—meaning it could not be trusted.) I was taught that to really love someone was to ‘hold them’ to God’s truths, even when those truths seemed (to our ‘frail human understanding’) heartless. I think that’s what some Fundamentalists mean by ‘tough love.’ A lot that is harsh and hurtful comes of this kind of ‘love’—but I think in many cases the intent is sincere.

    In the end, I rejected the idea of a God who would ask me to ignore what my heart recognized was true. That rejection severed me from a church that had nurtured me, a church through which I had had deep and profound spiritual experiences—one of which literally saved my life–experiences that my heart also recognizes are real and true, even if I could no longer swallow the theology that accompanied those experiences. Without going into all of what that involved, I will say that it was a painful separation. I am still, in late middle age, finding my way back to the God I met in my youth, unbound by the theology of my youth.

    I know coming out must be scary, and requires incredible courage. I imagine it is also exhilarating, to take that flying leap of faith. I noticed that when my friend came out thirty years ago, he seemed to grow up before my eyes, as if the pieces of his personality, always fractured before, came suddenly together into a beautiful whole. Even then, when I was still not sure if it was right or wrong, I had to acknowledge that he suddenly seemed beautifully whole and self-possessed.

    I too keep feeling the need to find a bridge between myself and the conservative evangelicals/fundamentalists in my life. I realize that at a certain point, a conversation becomes too damaging to continue. I understand if Jenni needs to drop her fundamentalist friends in order to continue forward on her own journey. But I wish there could be a conversation. Maybe there can’t, if one side is speaking from ‘above’—that is, from what they perceived as a set of revealed truths that can’t be altered—and the other is speaking out of personal experience. Maybe real conversation just isn’t possible. But I still keep hoping it is.

  • mike moore

    hey Jenni with the empty closet!

    first, Congrats on a the brave action you’ve taken and for inviting dialogs you knew would be tough.

    second, we need a pic of your tattoo, in situ, so we can then Judge You Properly, in order to declare, with full confidence, whether you are going Straight to Hell, or not. Please note, tattoos of pentagrams inset with “666″ are still open to broad theological interpretation ….

    30yrs ago, I came out at Westmont College, in my Sr. year, and I was threatened with expulsion and experienced much of what you are experiencing now. Like you, there was also a lot of, “I will be praying for you to find your way out of this destructive lifestyle.”

    Many people – friends, dorm-mates, and kids I barely knew – felt compelled to inform me they would always, “hate my sin, while loving the sinner (me).”

    On my way to deep heartbreak, I was saved by two people.

    One of my very best friends (forgive her, she was from the midwest and used a lot of baking metaphors and analogies) told me, “you will find family, friends, and strangers saying hateful and poisonous things to you and about you, and then they will say how much they Love You. So remember, they’ll try to slap a “Baking Soda” label on a box of Rat Poison, but it’s still rat poison, it’ll kill you, and they’re still rats.”

    Also, a week or so after coming out, my college roommate – utterly insensitive and always good for his shock-and-awe value – asked me if I was “OK.” I told him, “not really” and explained a bit. This is a good time to mention, I never ever cussed (then.)

    He told me, “well, Jesus would say, ‘Fuck Them.’ I attended 6 years of boarding prep schools, and I’ve seen more Christian gay sex than you ever will.” Later, he went on to add, “while in this room , we need to adhere to strict ‘hands-off’ policy, but I am the best roommate you’ll ever have … we both know I’ve got a great ass.” He then punched me hard on the shoulder – his version of a hug – and split. And his irreverent “who-gives-a-fuck, you’re my bro,” and non-sympathetic “you-just-gotta-walk-it-off, dude,” attitude exemplified true friendship and made me cry (I’m such a wuss.)

    By way of comparison to these two true friends, it quickly became easy to discern those who were true friends from those who were not.

    It seems you have been given a similar measuring stick … you’ve got some great friends who love you just the way you are and are treating you as they always have. Let them set the standard for those with whom you will continue to engage in dialog.

    And always remember, slapping the word “LOVE” on hate doesn’t change it from hate.

    And as for vegetables, try pizza. It’s my favorite vegetable.

    • Susan G.

      Oh Mike – the pizza for vegetables thing made me howl. Wish I was related to you!

  • Erin D.

    Jenni,

    Congratulations to you! I don’t really think you should do this, but as I was reading your e-mails I kept thinking you should write back to these people and say, “I’ll be happy to ‘fake straight’ for you. Will you ‘fake brown eyes’ for me? Blue eyes are just so….yish. Jesus was from the Mideast and he probably didn’t have blue eyes. They are just so offensive to me. Here are a couple of websites that can fit you with brown contact lenses so no one has to look at your blue eyes any longer. Thank you.” In all seriousness, God bless you for staying true to Him as you walked this difficult path. Keep compassionate toward those who persecute you and never let them harden your heart. I have found that substituting pity for anger, silence for a retort, and prayer for frustration can heal almost any inner wound. It takes work and a lot of discipline, but you can get to a place where “the people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter don’t mind.” Best of luck to you.

  • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

    Do whatever you have strength for. If you feel like you can keep them in your life without too much damage, and you want to, then go for it. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned (after stepping far far away from Christianity to learn it) is that you don’t have any obligation to keep hurtful people in your life. You don’t have any obligation to keep anyone in your life that you don’t want in your life.

    It’s great that you can show who you are. I’m jealous too, you have what I dream for myself but feel like it’s impossible. It gets so exhausting trying to play the role of happy, normal, put-together Christian straight girl, and the more I figure out about myself, the more energy I have to use to make sure that it stays underneath the surface so I can continue to play this part, because that’s the only way to survive here. Most days I am sick of being silent, so tired of it all and feeling so trapped because I have to stay silent that I wonder how my life is even worth it anymore. I am glad that you have found the freedom to be yourself.

    Also, hi there from a fellow library school student :D. Best. Profession. Ever.

    • anonymous, today

      to somaticstrength,

      I don’t ask this glibly or carelessly: have you seriously considered just packing up your life and running away?

      I know that running away from things can be counterproductive to finding happiness … never coming to grips with the root of one’s unhappiness. The practical mess of moving grad schools, loss of job, loss of friends and support network, the risk your new life will be like your old life, or worse. The truth that wherever you go, there you are.

      but … sometimes …. running away is good.

      sometimes, one can run away to start a great new life … and actually find a great new life! New places. New faces. Faces that are not looking at you and expecting to see a “happy, normal, put-together Christian straight girl.” Places where that “normal” girl would scare the librarians to death (ever been to Berkeley?)

      there came a time when the world crashed down around my husband and me.

      someone’s mental/emotional hate of us, a hate of which we were completely unaware, morphed into physical violence. the violence sparked a chain reaction of events involving the courts, our families, our business … our entire life. we lost almost everything, except each other.

      we became so angry, felt so betrayed by friends and family and the courts, so tired of it all, feeling utterly trapped, and we, too, wondered if life was even worth it anymore. (insert two black years of living in fear and false starts … I know you know)

      and then, one day, without a lot of talk, we packed up our car and our dog, and moved 2500 miles away. I did know some people in the new place. I knew I could get work as waiter or something, enough for rent and food and basics. I had my lover of (then) 15 years with me. And we had our dog.

      People will disagree, but for me, some events can neither be forgiven nor forgotten … but they can be put in the rearview mirror.

      I don’t know if your soulmate would move with you. I don’t if you have dogs or cats that can make any place feel like home.

      I don’t know if you should run away. I just pose the question.

      • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

        I consider it all the time. I just wouldn’t know how.

        The problem I have is that my mother has effectively undermined every last bit of me so that I don’t feel like I can make it on my own. I’m weak, I’m stupid, I’m crazy; these are the things she has put into my head all my life, and knowing that doesn’t help me to override those messages.

        I don’t have anywhere I could go, no money to go there, and nobody to help me figure out what to do even if I could get out of here.

        • FugitiveSquirrel

          @SomaticStrength, my heart breaks for you. You are a worthy, wonderful person. PLEASE try to get some help, even if it means literally packing your bags and running away. I am sure that there are those that read this blog that can offer suggestions for support groups/persons and places that you can go to escape – yes escape, because right now you are being held prisoner.

          Do not let others determine your worth. Sometimes moms do not know best. Sometimes moms hurt and hinder. My cousin was nearly destroyed by her mom – later to find out that her mom was seriously mentally ill. My cousin is still dealing with her self-esteem at age 60. If only she had known, if only I had known what she was going through.

          Pleas reach out for help.

          @John, Jennie, others, can you help her? Please?

          • A’isha

            @somaticstrength, I would echo what FugitiveSquirrel says…get some help. Please. Do you have friends or other family that could help you get out from under your mother’s thumb? I don’t know your area so don’t know where to refer you. Often there are support centers that could help. Even if it’s not physical abuse, it sounds like emotional abuse, so any women’s support group could help. Also, LGBT support centers might have suggestions for where you live.

            Mainly, remember how much you are really worth! Don’t let anyone else define your worth.

          • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com somaticstrength

            It’s probably not as bad as I’m making it sound.

          • Donald Rappe

            Hi Soma, my amiga. You are not weak. If you were you would not have survived. You are not stupid. Your blog is intelligent. You are not crazy. The unthinkable things that have happened to you really did happen. From this I know your mother is no longer good for you. You are now old enough to separate from her. It is difficult, because you are now like a man who has been beaten so badly he can never chance to fight again. I am confident that as you distance yourself from superstitious religious beliefs you will be able to find inner resources available to strengthen your own initiative. I have a friend in this town who has suffered as you have and from her I learned how strong and lasting is the power of childhood abuse. Of course you have PTSD and while a pill may help a little it would be wonderful if you could find a qualified therapist. Maybe in the area of a veterans hospital. I do not think you should treat “combat fatigue” lightly. I pray for your recovery.

  • http://daisysdeadair.blogspot.com/ Daisy Deadhead

    Funny geeky story, but not really… I was nearly inconsolable when Elizabeth Taylor (goddess of our realm) passed away. I finally admitted to a co-worker that this was my first love… I will be really upset when David Cassidy and Iggy Pop die too!

    She just stared at me, and I realized I had crossed some invisible line. Just talking about a celebrity!

    I thought: just imagine if I had a life-partner who was female (my partner is male) and how THAT would be. I often forget, but need to be reminded. I think bisexuals in hetero marriages (lots more of us than you think!) get scared sometimes, when we see what would happen en masse if our covers were blown. Changing the culture is hard work, but it is just so necessary!

    My best to you.

    • cat rennolds

      I think bisexual numbers are considerably higher than reported….because we get socialized into hetero, and unlike our gay compatriots, we CAN. i’m not closeted from the people who matter to me, but I have a very small child, so I remain semi-closeted in my small Southern town.

  • Soulmentor

    “Somehow I doubt you’ve studied the issue at all.”

    Hello Jenni. I have a sister like that who, when I offered her writings and books and even John’s web site, she refuses to accept any of it, telling me once nearly in tears that, “We don’t read those kind of books.” I’m sure she believes she is “putting on the armor” of her “faith”.

    We, who have done the struggle and study and come to our own faith, need to understand that, contrary to what they think, they do not live in “faith”, but in fear; fear of knowledge, fear of thinking, fear of their own intellect (taking Paul’s admonishments too literally to not trust your own hearts and minds, little realizing that by doing that, they are actually trusting SOMEONE ELSE’S mind!!). Knowledge is the bane of unexamined “faith” and that is what your friend fears most because to even consider the option to give serious thot to homosexuality vis-a-vis traditional “christian” attitudes and interpretations is tantamount in their own minds to doubting their beliefs and letting Satan begin to deceive them. Their more fundamentalist “faith” is so invested in the literal “truth” of the traditional biblical interpretations about homosexuality that if they had to start rethinking that, they’d have to wonder what else they can’t believe. THAT is what they fear. Such is their great mistake in investing so much in traditional religious attitudes toward homosexuality.

    I agree with John’s response to your question. Shake that dust (person) from your feet and go on with your life that seems to be starting to sound wonderful. Let no one tell you that the relief you feel is Satan’s deception. Truth does indeed set us free and that is what you are feeling. You are discovering that God is not the Bible, God is not Scripture, God is not found outside of yourself. God is in you and you no longer live in fear, but in a Faith much stronger than that of your friend or my sister. Faith that does not fear knowledge is so much stronger than blind acceptance of what someone else says you must believe.

    Real love, not some vague, incomprehensible “mystery”, awaits you.

    • Christy

      Well said. Great insights, Soulmentor.

  • FugitiveSquirrel

    “Shake off the dust (person)” is the best advice that I have heard. Thank you , Jenni and John, for inspiring my day. Blessings to you both.

  • The Tom

    Jenni, I recall reading somewhere that God doesn’t ever give you a problem without giving you the strength to overcome it. Now, granted, there are those you know who would say that the “problem” I’m referring to is your homosexuality, and that God has given you the strength to overcome that homosexuality. But then again, what do they know, eh?

    Why do so many Christians place such high importance on homosexuality, as opposed to, say, a good shrimp cocktail? Or gossip? Or doing unto others? I guess it’s because our sexuality is SUCH an integral part of WHO WE ARE. But if that’s the case, then all the more reason to BE THAT!! No attitude necessary, no justification, no apologies. Being yourself may be the surest way to God.

    My own approach to faith doesn’t involve adhering to 3000-year-old Hebrew tribal law, or to letters that Paul wrote to so-and-so. But for many Christians, that is the meat of their faith. For me, it’s the parsley: don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to. Doesn’t affect my faith.

    But for many Christians, especially the more dogmatic, adherence to such things are of utmost importance, and most will take a long time to move beyond that, if they ever do. It’s not your responsibility to pull them out of their own boxes. Those friends of yours who will eventually come around have their own journey, and they’ll come around in their own time. That’s not to say it doesn’t, or shouldn’t, hurt: I can’t imagine how it must hurt sometimes.

    But look on the bright side! You’re happier, you’re living life as YOU, and you’ve met supportive, loving people who accept you for who you are. (Isn’t it odd that acceptance is the exception, not the rule?)

    Steady as she goes!

  • Daryl Forman

    Jenni, my dear sister-in-Christ. Ibet God is really happy that you have recognized how free you are in the Lord and are able to live as who you were created to be. Blessings.

  • Lisa

    Jenni~

    I have to somewhat disagree with throwing the friendship out with the dirty bath water. Granted, I don’t know your friend or the true depth of your past friendship, but I have to be honest. I was once one of those ‘friends’. I tried to ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’ until it just didn’t work for me any longer. I tried to rationalize that Jesus would want me to ‘speak truth’ to my homosexual friends and continue to love them. I really did try. But one of my gay friends just wouldn’t let me out of it! He continued to listen to me as I tried to persuade him to come back from ‘the dark side’. He never turned away from me, even as I am sure he was hurt deeply by my efforts. It took some time but eventually, my friend made such an impact on me that I turned to my faith for answers, and found none that fit my heart’s questions. I saw his life for what is was, which was to glorify Jesus. I saw his faith as a living example of true Christian love for others. I saw how much he loved me.

    It matters and today, I have given up my old dictates and admonishments and instead, work to spread Jesus’s true message of acceptance, no matter who you love or who you are.

    I encourage you to stand in love with those who may not support you now, but may learn from you and be a changed person in the end. It happened to me and I am better for it! May God bless you and keep you in His comfort as you embark on this journey.

    • Lee

      It really isn’t the job of the person coming out to stick by her “friends” and wait for them to come around. If Jenni is up for the battle, then all power to her, but her main priority right now should be her own mental health and experiencing the joy of freedom in knowing that she’s loved by God. It’s actually quite self-centred to suggest that she should take on somebody else’s problems right now at a time that can be quite emotionally taxing and spiritually challenging. As I said before, people’s problems with homosexuals are their problems, not ours.

    • DR

      This is certainly a lovely story and one can’t argue with the power of someone we love who loves us having tremendous influence. Ultimately it is 100% our responsibility to pursue Truth. We are in a constant process of selecting those who point the way. To ask someone from the GLBT community to put themselves on some kind of sacrificial alter where they risk their emotional and spiritual health so that people like you (and I) can learn and grow seems like an awful lot to ask. Too much.

      This information is available everywhere and I don’t believe that the Holy Spirit asks us to turn our vulnerability inside out for someone who needs to be almost assaulted with information, time and time again.

      • cat rennolds

        That’s why she has US:)

      • A’isha

        Lee and DR, what both of you said spoke volumes to me personally. I totally needed to hear that today! It really isn’t my job—or Jenni’s or anyone else’s—to stick by people who aren’t supportive from the start. This entire situation has hit me so hard lately, and I’m facing condemnation from every direction. It really sucks and emotionally I’m struggling. I’m trying so hard to stay strong and take a stand against the judgmental people, but it’s really up to the Holy Spirit to convict any of us of any wrong. That’s what we all need to do with people who aren’t good in our lives–leave them to God and let him do whatever work needs doing.

        What’s being used against me right now is 1 Cor 5:9-12 where Paul writes to not associate with the sexually immoral and to cast out the wicked from among you. So this group at my church wants me kicked out because I’m an “habitual sinner,” having been gay all my life. Good grief. Even if they do think it’s a sin, how can they forget getting the log out of your own eye before dealing with the speck in your neighbor’s eye? Thankfully my dad (the pastor) says if they want him to take a strong stand against sin then he’s going to address not being loving, abusing your kids, adultery, lying, gossiping, etc.

        • Lee

          A’isha—was pleased to see that what I, and DR, said helps. I wish I could tell you not to care so much about all of the ways in which you’re being attacked, but it’s just not possible to not care sometimes. I had the luxury of being removed from the church (I was away at grad school) and I miraculously had the gumption to quit school, move to a city where I knew no one, and started over from scratch. When you have ties to your community that you can’t or choose not to break, this makes it all the more complicated.

          I guess my biggest hope is that you can a. find a way not to let the Bible be used against you and b. surround yourself w/friends and family who don’t see you as broken, even if that means changing up your circles significantly. I don’t know how this is done, for you, because my faith and connection to Christianity took a real beating through all of it, and you seem to be a bit closer to it all. Keep reaching out to people and places that make you feel affirmed.

    • http://southcarolinaboy.wordpress.com SC Boy

      What Lee and DR said.

  • Gary Blinn

    Enjoyed this post. Jesus had no conditions to love people, I don’t either (or I am trying very hard not to have conditions).

  • Virginia

    Jenni sounds like she comes from a very similar background to mine. I recognize much of the terminology she uses that comes from the context of a fundamentalist church, like “dress standards”, “unsaved”, and describing responsive readings as being different than what she was used to. I am so happy that Jenni has been able to reconcile her faith and her orientation. For a long time, my own reaction was to throw the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. It is through reading this blog, and finding facebook pages like “The Christian Left” that I have started my own journey of reconciliation. Thanks so much for all you do.

  • Patty

    Jenni -

    Happy coming out day! So glad to have you as a sister Christian and librarian. I pray that you can continue to deal with what your so called friends toss your way. Just don’t forget how much God and this community love you.

  • Donald Rappe

    I think Jesus said “Let the dead bury their dead. Come and follow me!” or something like that.

  • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

    I’m sorry if this is duplicating other comments … I haven’t read them all, yet.

    Jenni, congratulations. Being honest with yourself and your friends is very important.

    One thing I hope that you know now is that “speaking the truth in love” is often a Christian’s excuse for bad behavior. “I’m not being a jerk, I’m speaking the truth in love.”

    Words like that don’t come from love, tough or otherwise. They come from anger, hatred, ignorance, and bitterness.

    Anyway … I agree with John’s “whiplash” suggestion. Life is too long to spend it with people so bitter, arrogant, and narrow-minded as to condemn you in spite of knowing you.

    As you know, you’re no different a person than you were before this letter, and anyone who really loved you last month still loves you now. Anyone who doesn’t never really loved you — they loved an image of what they thought you were.

    Jesus, most important, loved you last month and today.

    Enjoy being you. (By the way, I’m jealous of the librarian career … just to put it out there.)

  • http://frenchizal.blogspot.com Jenni

    Thank you all for your kind and supportive comments. Yesterday was a big day for me, and I spent a lot of it fielding all kinds of traffic on my blog and on my facebook page and also reading through the comments here on John’s blog. Before Tuesday, I would have described my coming out experience as negative, overall, because many of my friends reacted like the sampling you saw in the blog post.

    However, yesterday was an overwhelming show of support. I had positive responses from the few people I expected to hear from, but I also had more than a few surprises from old friends, former students, and people I barely knew or hadn’t spoken with in years who decided to show their support. I haven’t heard back from either of my parents yet, but the support I received yesterday was like a buoy, and I think I’ll be able to survive whatever craziness comes my way.

    Thank you all.

    • http://thethreews.wordpress.com KenLeonard

      Jesus loves you, Jenni.

      Who am I to second-guess Him?

    • A’isha

      Jenni, I finally went and read your blog. I’m honored that you mentioned me. It makes writing that one piece worthwhile.

      I’m so happy you’re finding supportive people even among those you thought wouldn’t support you. That’s God working in your life and theirs! Remember to pray for those who don’t support you. It’s making a big difference in my life as I do that.

      You can be very proud of yourself for the way you’re handling coming out as a lesbian Christian. Stay strong!

  • Meg

    I remember coming out to some of my conservative Christian friends. One of them said she wouldn’t support it, but she’d still be my friend. When I told her that I wanted her to meet my girlfriend, that was too much for her. She didn’t mind supporting from afar, or supporting me if I was celibate. As soon as it’s evident that I’m “engaging” in this sinful life, it’s too much to handle. Boy am I glad I have more moderate and liberal Christian friends than conservative ones…

  • Meg

    Oh, and I forgot to add to Jenni that this is an awesome, scary, beautiful journey, this being yourself. You will definitely love yourself more and more as you go along. That is the beauty, that much of the self-hate is lifted and you can focus on loving yourself, and you realize just how awesome God has made you.

    Also, that the UCC church is pretty cool. I go to a UU (Unitarian Universalist) church every so often and it’s a bit more liberal than the UCC. They are both such welcoming churches that join together in the true Christ-like love that has so faded from some of the bigger denominations.

    Good luck on the newest part of your wonderful life journey!

  • http://thewaterisfine.wordpress.com/ thewaterisfine

    YOU GO GIRL!


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