Because They First Loved Me: A Reflection on Queerness and Community

Because They First Loved Me: A Reflection on Queerness and Community October 6, 2017
Over the last few years, I’ve been deeply engaged in work and research that centers on cultivating space where people of all faiths, sexualities, and gender identities can seek to both know and be known. I’ve seen so many people experience spiritual, systemic, and interpersonal harm and sincerely believe that fostering inclusive, equitable communities can help people heal. My commitment to these beliefs inspired me to co-found a nonprofit called Center for Inclusivity that supports building these sorts of spaces through utilizing public forums that promote thoughtful dialogue. I know the power that lies in these places because it is there that I was able to find words to give shape to my sexual identity and take hold of my truth.


My truth is that I love people. I find them beautiful and intriguing. The scope of my desire is expansive, and as such I’ve had to spend time finding words to help others understand my sexuality. I’ve never been a fan of using singular words to describe broad concepts because that feels constrictive, but I know that the assignment of labels helps people understand or connect with us more fully. So in speaking of my truth for myself, I acknowledge that I’m drawn to people, but when sharing it with others, I say that I’m pansexual.


It took me 29 years to hold this truth and stand firmly in it.

See, I’m the daughter of a Baptist preacher. That may seem like an arbitrary statement, but, at age 16, when I first felt that the construct of heterosexuality could not contain the fullness of my identity, the few conversations I dared to have pushed me into a place of deep repression.

In my college years, that repression met my religious beliefs producing a toxic brew of anti-LGBTQ sentiments. In that season of my life, I offered up words to friends and strangers alike that I now realize were unhelpful at best and devastating or triggering at worst. As I reflect on this time, I understand how critical it is for people to have unobstructed, affirming space to unpack desire, attraction, and preferences. My experience allows me to see that denial of these things doesn’t just inspire personal suppression, it pushes people to try and thwart the liberation others in their communities may be seeking.

I wish I could say that I have never imposed barriers between people and who they desire to be, but in the near decade and a half between me first questioning my own identity and coming out as queer, there are multiple instances of me (somewhat ignorantly) perpetuating harm. I remember passionately speaking out against measures promoting LGBTQ equity or using the Bible to tell people that their attractions or their personhood was sinful while also sharing that God loved them. I didn’t have room to work toward accepting who I was or to realize that I had became a deterrent to others journeying towards their self acceptance.

I could scrub the story of my liberation clean of the ways that I have been complicit in upholding oppression for my LGBTQ siblings, but that would neither be honest nor speak to the fullness of my journey…”

I had the honor of writing this for my friends over at the Religious Institute. You can keep reading this over on their Medium page.
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