Got this in:
I grew up in a Christian environment since I was little. I went to a Pentecostal fundie school from age four, and I graduated from it at age seventeen. I then went to a liberal all-girls college, and didn’t enjoy it because of my fundie upbringing.
When I didn’t get a job after graduating college, I ended up back at my fundie school, volunteering at their Bible college and the church associated with it. About a year later, they offered me a job to work at the college full-time.
Here’s the thing. I’m a lesbian. I have known this since I was nine years old, but I always hid it. I started to believe that I had gotten over it around age twelve, but then when I turned seventeen it hit me with full force, because I fell madly for one of my fundie teachers. After high school, I went full ex-gay (books, tapes, videos, articles, etc.), and believed all the psychobabble that they say at NARTH (distant mother, lack of internalized femininity…blah blah blah).
I was in this ex-gay world for five years—until last year, when I fell madly for another woman. This time, I couldn’t continue to say I was still ex-gay, because it was very obvious that I wasn’t.
It was last year that I begged God to help me reconcile my faith with my sexuality, and after a few weeks of emotional turmoil, I finally realized that God really does love me, and that He is fine with me being both really gay and really Christian. It was a peace I had never felt before.
Now, here’s the issue. Initially, I was so thrilled about being accepted by God, that I couldn’t care less what the people in my life thought about me. But then, as the months passed, I found myself in a crazy situation. I was attending a church that was staunchly anti-gay. I was working at a job that was the same. All of the people I know were and are anti-gay. As of late, I have stopped attending my church, and I find that I am slowly separating from the people I know. But my main issue is that I am overwhelmingly angry all the time. I am so damn pissed about how I grew up believing that I was not okay. I am pissed about how they lied to me about God. I am pissed that they have no one to answer to for how badly they hurt me and people like me (yeah, at least four of my graduating class of twenty five are gay).
I live in Maryland, and as I was walking through the sanctuary of the church a few weeks ago, I saw a petition against the newly instituted Civil Marriage Protection Act. These people are trying their hardest to stop loving couples from getting married. The whole thing tipped me over the edge. Now I don’t even know how to function because of the anger I have.
What do I do about this anger? I want to cuss everyone out and leave, but I know that won’t be the best decision. I would love to read your thoughts on this.
You know, I think of myself as an HAL (Honorary Angry Lesbian). [UPDATE!]
So if I can ask: Why wouldn’t it be the best decision for you to cuss everyone out and leave?
Well, maybe not the part about cussing everyone out. But the leaving part sounds good to me. If I’m a cat at a dog convention, I’m all about the exit door.
But maybe you have to stay amongst the fundies, because of your job? That’s rough. (Excellent novel title, though: Amongst the Fundies. I would read that. I would write that!)
Of course, having to stay Amongst the Fundies because of your job would mean that the fundies are paying you. And I do very much like that. No amount of money is worth living a lie, of course. But it’s fun to think of you coming to work with a sweet Like a Dyke Today tote bag, or whatever, and going, “That’s right. And this place paid for this bag, bitches!” (Sorry: lately I’ve been watching Breaking Bad.)
Except if you did say that you’d summarily be unemployed. Which would defeat the whole purpose. So never mind.
So the whole deal with anger is that it comes in exactly two flavors: good and bad. Good anger results—or at least has the potential to result—in something positive out in the world: improved living conditions for the poor, improved educational system, interest-gouging money-changers being thrown out of the temple, the legalization of gay marriage, etc., etc. Bad anger, on the other hand, can only result in something negative for the person harboring it: heart attack, ulcer, having to attend an anger management class, having to go to jail because for flunking anger management and strangling someone, etc., etc.
What’s the deciding factor that distinguishes good anger from bad? But of course: it’s whether or not anything can be done to change whatever it is that’s causing the anger. If I can do something to change whatever it is that’s making me angry, then my anger can be used by me as a good and healthy catalyst toward making the world a better place. But if I can’t do anything to change whatever is angering me, then my anger is doing virtually nothing but hurting me; then it’s just a self-destructive waste of time.
So can you do anything to change the thing that’s causing you anger? It seems to me that you cannot. You certainly can’t change the past; you can’t change the fact that you grew up learning and believing terribly caustic lies about yourself and others. So that’s done already. So you can let that go. And you should let that go, too, because you’ve risen above that old noise. Your whole life proves just how wrong those people were. So now you can actually and truly feel sorry for those people–because, after all, they were not born smart enough, or compassionate enough, to shed the lies that you have been able to. They stubbornly remained on the leaking and creaking Good Ship Stupidpop, while you hopped on a lifeboat and paddled safely away.
You found who you are. They’re still lost.
And that leaves all the jagweeds who are currently in your life. And what you do with them is your call. If you believe that you can change them—or even one of them, if you think that might be worth it—and want to do that, then stay where you are, and do your best to be a beam of light in the darkness. And if that is the choice you make, then God bless you for it. That’s the kind of everyday heroism that ends up making the most important kinds of changes in the world.
Without knowing anything more than I do about you or your situation, though, I personally would recommend getting out of where you’re at. I don’t like people being in situations where they’re vulnerable to getting hurt, maligned, stressed out, or becoming the object of concerned, sanctimonious Christians seeking to change them. You’ve spent enough time in the belly of the beast, says me. Let someone else take the next shift; you make like Jonah and fly on out of there. Life is hard enough without having to work eight hours every day with people whom you know believe you to be morally inferior to them.
If you can’t just walk away from your situation, because of money or whatever, then I say smile, make happy noises, get along, cultivate a rich private life, and then the moment you can get the freak out of Dodge.
But give yourself permission to lose your anger. Half the people who early on tried to turn you against yourself are already dead—and you wouldn’t want to trade places with the small-minded, mean-spirited lives of the ones still living. As for the ones right now living right around you, why waste your time being angry with them? Your anger won’t change them. All it will do is hurt you.
They’re just scared. They see their world changing, and it frightens them. And frightened creatures usually snap-out and just start fighting back. That’s all that’s happening with all these anti-gay initiatives we now see popping up everywhere. Conservative Christians are used to having the power, to being right, to being constantly affirmed that their relationship with their genitals is exactly as God desires it to be. If God is okay with people being gay, then their cages get rattled hard enough to shake their teeth loose. So they’re trying to make sure nobody thinks God is okay with … well, anyone being fundamentally (ha, had) different from them.
And if you let their efforts to do that anger you? If you let anything about them anger you?
Then they win. Then, because of them, the quality of your life is greatly if not severely compromised. If they couldn’t get you from outside and above, they’ll then be getting you from inside and below. But either way, you go down. Either way, they win.
And screw with a bottle brush that noise. Either physically, or in your heart until you can do it physically, kiss those dinkwads good-bye, wish them God’s very best, and get on with living the great and happy life you deserve.
You might also want to read my Christian woman: “She’s pulled the plug on her own son, whom I love and cared for. How do I deal with my anger?”
Best to you, sister. Let us know how it goes.