Sexuality Project: Questioning, Q. 1

This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan hereThe 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.

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  • Lively Granddad

    Just a note that I so appreciate the awakenings that are being shared, and so sorry for the lunacy of the groups from which many came and in which they were devalued and denied seeing the Oneness of themselves and Creation. I can’t keep up with all these posts but can so appreciate that when people become Conscious, they choose a path of their own and not that chosen by others for them. All of you, Choose your path every single day and become all of what you expect to become. Thank you all for sharing.

  • Melissa @ Permission to Live

    My answer looks so short, I guess I felt like I had explained some of that process already in my answer to Romantic Relationships Q. 3

    • ScottInOH

      Melissa, have you written about your encounters with Catholic teachings on sexuality elsewhere? (I’m going to go check your archives now, so sorry if this is a dumb question.)


    • ScottInOH
    • Melissa @ Permission to Live

      Yep, you found them. :) Here are 2 other ones I wrote on the treatment on homosexuality in the church. When I wrote them I no longer believed that being gay was a choice, but I still believed that it wasn’t ok to act on those urges.

      I also touched on the catholic dynamic a bit in my coming out series

    • ScottInOH

      Thanks a lot. They were very interesting to read. In fact, I was quite confused until I got to your exchange with Anonymous on 10/19/11 (Part 2). That sounded more like the Melissa who’s been posting here and who wrote “Unwrapping the Onion”!

      Does the Catholic Church still teach that ejaculation anywhere outside a woman’s vagina (if it’s done on purpose) is wrong? I must confess to not knowing that was actually part of the catechism. Good grief.

    • Melissa @ Permission to Live

      I know! I still feel sad that that poor lady read that post and felt so judged by it. :/

      And yes, I’ve read the entire catechism and the church still teaches that ejaculation outside of marraige and outside of the vagina is a sin. That includes masturbation as well. I still follow some catholic bloggers who are “faithful” meaning that they still follow everything the church teaches and they link to stuff on how to have sex in ways that please god and how to teach your sons not to give into fleshly lusts.

    • Petticoat Philosopher

      Melissa, I think I first started reading your blog around the time you were writing those posts. I remember thinking, even at the time, that they kind of seemed like a pit stop on the way out of the belief that homosexuality is wrong. (Although I hope that doesn’t sound patronizing.) It just seemed to me from your writing, that you just had far too much of a passion for acceptance of diversity and compassion for others to stick very long to that position. And of course, I had no idea at all of what was going on between you and Haley at the time! Finding out that all this stuff you were grappling with was playing out in your own life as you were doing it definitely makes your journey seem that much more brave to me.

      Also the whole idea of “having sex in a way that pleases God” just sounds creepy to me. It kind of makes God sound like a perv. lol

  • kisekileia

    @Katy-Anne, I think you should find a way to tell Tina Anderson what a difference her story made for you. If I were in her shoes, it would mean a lot to me.