This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan here. The first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.
Life Outside the Bubble
3. Where have you found support? (New friends online, at school, at work, etc.?)
Melissa and Haley
I have an amazing wife who is supportive and loving. I have had friends online as well as friendships that began online and became real life later. We are slowly putting together a new community, with an accepting church we attend on occasion and the LGBTQ community in our area as well as other friends and neighbours.
I found new friends online (some of whom have become friends in real life), going to school after losing my job as a minister has introduced me to new friends, and participating in the LGBT community in my city has helped.
Lina and V
Many of the same English majors at school have ended up in the same place as my wife and I when it comes to religion and sexuality, and they’ve been a great support group. We haven’t made many new friends; however, I’m a nanny for one family and a babysitter for many, so there are roughly six couples older than we are who love us and our relationship, and can’t believe anyone would think otherwise. They’ve heard many a complaint about family.
[What Lina said!]
Since leaving my hometown, I have had to start over socially twice. The first time was when I started attending an out-of-state Christian college at age 23. My experience there was a valuable first step in leaving the culture I was raised in, without being too shocked by mainstream secular culture. I had a few close friends who were fairly understanding of my strange background and who made an effort to help me fit into college culture. After college, I relocated to my current city and started over again socially. This time, my social circle is more diverse and contains fewer Christians. I find the less-judgemental attitudes and the supportiveness very refreshing.
However, in my post-college years, my husband has honestly been my biggest supporter. His careful listening and insight have been incredibly helpful as I sorted through memories and baggage from my past. I wouldn’t be as happy and healthy as I am today if not for him!
Recently, I’ve also been finding a lot of encouragement from reading the blogs of others who grew up in and ultimately left the Christian Patriarchy movement. Someone in another online forum referred me to No Longer Quivering, which is how I found blogs like Sierra’s.
I have a support network of friends, as well as my entire church. My church is a place where it is safe to ask questions, it’s safe to not be entirely sure of what you believe, it’s safe to be a seeker, it’s safe to be yourself and it’s even safe and ok to disagree with the pastor. I also find some new online friends to be supportive and honestly I feel supported and validated just by reading blogs like this one without even really knowing you.