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.
1. When did you start to question what you were told about sexuality? What prompted you to rethink your beliefs?
Melissa and Haley
I began questioning when I investigated the Catholic teachings on sexuality, and then much further when my spouse came out as Transgender.
Coming to grips with my gender identity forced me to investigate all of the sexual teachings I had been indoctrinated with.
Lina and V
My freshman roommate at my uber-Christian college introduced me to Passion and Purity and the idea that “your first kiss is only as valuable as you make it.” Her older sister had never kissed before her engagement, and apparently her fiancé/husband said it was such a gift, that it inspired my roommate to make the same pledge. I had always wanted my first kiss to be special, so I decided to put a great deal of importance on it. Through my sophomore year, however, I began to be seriously disillusioned with my college, and along with that came a disillusionment with the religion it proclaimed. I made the radical decision to instead make my first kiss super UNimportant. Of course, with a party scene entirely underground, I had no way of actually meeting someone to do that with until a school trip to Scotland that summer. All I remember of my first kiss is that he was an Australian guy in the British military in an Irish pub in Scotland, he was 27 and absolutely adorable, and the kiss was utterly disgusting.
When I was dating that guy my sophomore year of college, I went down to visit him in Florida. He was really excited to have me there and threw a party. I met the entire spectrum of LGBT (and monogamous/polyamorous) folk that night. And the scary thing was, they were all really awesome people. He lived with a lesbian couple, and a MtF lesbian, so he joked that he lived in a house of women and no one wanted to fuck him. That night, I saw that gay people were people too.
I began to realize that issues of right and wrong were not so simple when I was talking with a secular college classmate who mentioned that she was living with her boyfriend. My first instinct was to lovingly warn her about the dangers of cohabitation. Then I suddenly realized that I couldn’t think of anything wrong with cohabitation except, “God says premarital sex is wrong.” And wait, why exactly was premarital sex wrong? All the problems were just “maybes”. So I kept quiet and became a slightly less judgmental person that day.
Another breakthrough came at work, through a shocking discovery about my favorite manager. While off-duty, he called the on-duty manager for some reason, and when she hung up, she remarked, “Why did he call me from a gay bar? He’s so funny!” I was extremely confused, and wondered aloud, “Hmm, yeah. That’s weird. Why would he be at a gay bar?” She stared at me in shock, and said, “Um…because he’s gay. Didn’t you know that?” It was a momentous occasion for me, realizing that I had met my first gay person and that *gasp* he was a really great person. For a while afterwards, I was extremely conflicted about whether I should lovingly talk to him about changing his lifestyle, or whether I should just invite him to church and let the sermon challenge him. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had no idea what was inherently wrong about gay sex or gay love. It started to seem like a very arbitrary rule. Later, I realized something even more shocking. My gay boss, when he hired me, knew that I had been homeschooled and that I was very conservative. He knew that I probably had anti-gay opinions, yet he hired me anyway! It seemed to me that he was a kinder person than most of the Christians I knew.
Honestly, I became increasingly unhappy with fundamentalism and something inside me told me that what the fundamentalists said about me as a woman and what they taught me to be was lies. At this same time, the Tina Anderson story hit the news and as soon as my husband and I saw it, we knew that we couldn’t go back to fundamentalism. It was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back, or the mouse that sunk the boat. When that story hit the news and people started talking about it, I had my eyes opened and I finally realized that I was not the only one who was taught that my rape was my fault, or that I deserved it, or any of the other sick and demented things I was taught.