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Lgbts Beaten By The Bible-Belt


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Hello all,

 

I'm new to the forum, and am looking forward to the discussions I'll find here. 

 

I was raised in a Southern Baptist Church in the evangelical Deep South, and attended private, evangelical Christian schools from third grade until high-school graduation.  My life was fully mapped and tightly controlled, from the music I had access to (only Christian radio) to the books I read.  I was happy, and I was young.  But I did believe.  I understood what it meant to accept Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior -- that he died on the cross as payment for my sins.  I was a Christian. 

 

I was also gay -- a truth I had known since before adolescence, and yet knew to never share with anyone. 

 

My (unplanned, in college) coming-out at 19 triggered a traumatic rift that was physically and emotionally violent.  When I was given the ultimatum to choose between my "newly chosen homosexual lifestyle" or my family, I chose the truth (not that my sexual orientation was new, chosen, or a lifestyle), and in so doing I was choosing to walk away from the only family, life, faith, worldview ... in short, world ... I had ever known. 

 

It has taken me over a decade to fully process leaving my Christian raising behind, and the trauma I endured at the hands of my family and the Church. 

 

For those interested, I had the chance to share my story in the 2012 book (NYU Press) Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible-Belt Gays, by Bernadette Barton. In 2015 I'll be releasing my own book, Praise the Lord, Pass the Biscuits and Let the Children Have it! A Bible-Belt-Coming-Out-Story.  Find out more at www.unbuckledreads.com

 

My work advocates for LGBT people -- and their straight family and friends -- who have been beaten by the Bible-Belt, but are still standing.  If their faith has been shattered, has it been -- can it be? should it be? -- restored?  Is it changed?

 

In my own life, I no longer consider myself a Christian, but I have (and despite efforts otherwise) retained a belief in a meaningful, loving universe. 

 

For those who have endured, or are enduring, a similar path, where sexuality, religion, family and faith wage war with one another, how have you coped? 

 

Best,

JT

 

 

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Welcome! I'm not in your camp, but my gradual move from homophobe to ally was a part of the involved process that eventually became a deconversion. I'm glad you're sharing your story with others. 

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Thank you for sharing your story, I am sure it will be of help to the many LGBT people who are struggling to find hope and find a way out of their predicament.

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Welcome! I'm also one of those who became an ally after my deconversion. I see now how strong the church propaganda was, and how demonizing all that are different makes them feel more special and chosen.

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Welcome.  

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I'm glad you're here. As I talked about on another thread, I am having a hard time coming around to accept homosexuality. I know it has a lot to do with the fact that I don't know any homosexuals, so I welcome the opportunity to dialogue and help my prejudices to fall off. We share ex-christianity in common, and there aren't many too many of us in the world, are there? I'll look for your 2012 book at the library. Best wishes with your upcoming book. I enjoy writing as well.

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Welcome.

 

I shudder to think what homosexuals have to suffer at the hands of Christian family and contacts.  Ever the old lie that it is merely a choice.  I sometimes wonder whether heterosexual believers think they could ever "choose" to fancy someone of their own gender.  Or perhaps they mean that the choice is not to hide one's homosexuality and pretend to some hypocritical and meaningless concept of a holy life.

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I'm sure it's been hard for you, coming as you have from that kind of background. To have reasoned

yourself out of your brainwashed educational mindset, you are quite courageous. I think all who come

as far as you have from where you were are very special. I am curious as to your story. That is, what was it that triggered you be able to see what was happening from the inside. Almost everyone here has

done that, but it's always an interesting story.

Welcome to the site. bill

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No lgbts here!!!sinner!!!

Just kidding, welcome to ex-c

Hope you'll find a safe place here

 

I'm not gay but I always laugh by how churches consider gay as the most evil sin ever exist while the leaders are molesting children, sexually harash the members, corrupt, and thirst of money and power

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Thank you, everyone, for the warm welcome!  I look forward to all the conversations here at this site. 

 

Aiyaya, I appreciate your honesty.  Before I came out I was very afraid of gay people.  Largely that was based off of the way the church demonizes them, but also simply because of the "difference" that the reality of homosexuality poses.  Two men? Two women?  Isn't that strange?  It is entirely natural to be frightened of what we don't understand.  Your desire to understand more -- to accept, as you say -- will be a positive journey for you, I'm sure.  You also mention that you don't know any gay people, and I agree that you'll be in a position to understand much more once you do. In the meantime, books, films, documentaries, they will help.  I turned to those, heavily, during my own coming out process. 

 

William, to answer your question.  You are right that there were issues at play before, and in addition to, my sexuality that hastened my "leaving the church."  As early as 15-16, I was becoming very attune to the internal disagreements, and even hostilities, between protestant denominations.  Attending a non-denominational Christian school, I was witness to the in-fighting between us all: once-saved-always-saved, baptism, the rapture, pre-destination, to name but a few, were the issues that triggered much disagreement, ranging from healthy to vicious.  In any case, though, it began to become clear to me just how subjective this "Eternal Truth" was, and how much wasn't clear, at all.  If "we" are not sure we're right about Issue X, are we right about issue Y?   Oh yes, and the internal inconsistences and contradictions within the Bible (once I had the curiosity and critical thinking skills to find them, and/or recognize them as such) were another fast track to it all unraveling. 

 

I've seen in another post, on this site, the analogy to pulling a thread loose, and everything unraveling.  It's such a fitting metaphor, and one that I've used as well to describe how it felt to have my Christian worldview fall apart.  But because it was so much more than a religion -- it was our family's entire frame of reference, our lifestyle, our social network, our entertainment, our radio station, our vacation's to Precept Ministry vacations -- the list could go on and on -- it felt like my entire LIFE and PAST were falling apart.  Add to that the confusion and shame I felt over my same-sex attraction, and, well .... it took a lot of time to process, understand, and forgive. 

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Being gay is what ended xtianity for me among many other things. I knew I didn't do the absurd choose to be gay, I knew I was natural. My family took it alright sans the whole hell BS. But I developed a fuck off, and piss off mentality that helped me cope.

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I've got a gay brother.

 

Sure puts things in perspectives and really highlights the courage required to swim against a corrupted current fed by ignorance.

 

That's probably why I like the X-files... the truth is out there. It's not all here yet and certainly not in the hands of robed medieval clergy.

 

Your decision was a wise one although an existentially painful one.

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Hey there.

 

I am also openly gay myself.

 

I have not experienced the same level of rejection and abuse that you did...reading your story moved me to tears. :(  But yes, I remember well the sermons I heard on Sunday by the self-righteous pastors and religious leaders as well as the virulent hate spewed out to the media and online.  These people, who embrace a contradictory philosophy and shore up wealth for themselves while believing in an individual, who by the Bible account, lived a life of extreme poverty is mind-boggling to me.  It's another power faction seeking to exact control over people's lives, especially their sexuality.  It's sickening.

 

I would be interested in reading that book.  Welcome, you'll find a lot of good people here.  I also wanted to invite you to read my own testimony, My Divorce from Christianity (1st Post

 

Love,

 

Andrew

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Guest ThereIsNoGod

We're dealt a raw deal when we're LGBT and in the Bible-Belt. Well ok, I guess there are worse places to be LGBT, but I think in America you should be able to expect a lot better than getting beat up. It all comes down to people learning to accept reality's diversity. Some people are born in such a way that it can be pretty grievous trying to partner up with the opposite sex. The thing some people don't realize is that it's not just that they have trouble being attracted to the opposite sex. Also, the opposite sex has trouble being attracted to them. I don't think many people appreciate just how difficult it is for some people to successfully have a relationship with the opposite sex. And if such a person finds love with the same sex they're told it's not allowed. Can they imagine how someone feels when they finally find a relationship that works and then the big, dumb hand of religion comes and tries to take it away?

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Welcome, unbuckledreads. Like others, I did not come up against overt anti-gay actions, but being gay made me realize Christianity for what it is. I posted my extimony on here about 10 years ago!

 

http://testimonials.exchristian.net/2004/09/time-to-say-yes-to-life.html

 

I look forward to reading more of what you've written.

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OK- so this might be off topic, but the thread title made me think of this...

I recently watched "God Loves Uganda" and "Call Me Kuchu"-- both documentaries bout the indoctrination of Uganda by American fundamentalists into hating LGBT people, and the resulting bloodbath. The horrible paranoia and conspiracy theories about LGBT people there are not too far removed from the same veiled language far right politicians use here out in the open, on US national television.

Straight people should recognize this phenomena, and find it revolting and frightening. It's as if some people stationed high in religious ranks use LGBT as straw men, scapegoats, in order to rally their troops into a homophobic kristallnacht. 

Unfortunately, it seems that more moderate bishops, like Christopher Senyonjo in Uganda, are pushed out of their roles if they are accepting of LGBT people. 

Both shows were really eye opening-- it just goes to show the kind of motive behind some forms of missionary Christianity, and the possible result of the same types of missionary activity if we (in the US) were ever exposed to the kind of poverty and desperation people in Uganda have experienced. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I really feel for you.  I was raised the son of a preacher, and I was taught that homosexuality was one of the worst sins imaginable.  My father was always making jokes about homosexuals with his friends.  One day, he and another pastor were hanging out at our house.  His pastor friend proceeded to start emulating what he thought was a gay person by talking in a stereotypical feminine voice while complimenting my father's choice of clothing...  My dad joined right in, and I got to witness two full grown church leaders acting like complete jerks.  This scenario was not uncommon to me.  At the private school I attended, I overheard the teachers laughing and joking together about the best way to get rid of gay people.  Their suggestions ranged from sterilization (which doesn't make sense) to locking all of the gays up on a deserted island to die.  These people were all well respected leaders in our community who drove nice cars and lived in nice homes.

 

By the time I was half way through high school, I met a genuinely gay person for the first time.  He was my art teacher.  I was always a huge fan of the arts, and this teacher loved my work.  He was the most supportive person - concerning my love for the arts - that I had ever met.  (I didn't get that kind of support at home).  Anyway, I finally made up my mind that there might not be anything wrong with people who are gay.  I decided to talk to my dad about my new belief at the dinner table.  That was a huge mistake!  He stood up in front of my whole family at the dinner table, pointed his finger at me with a look of utter hatred and disgust, and proceeded to ask me if I was a 'faggot'...  I sat there in complete silence.  Never before had my dad seemed so sinister.

 

Unfortunately, this worn out mentality still pervades in the part of the U.S.A that I live in.  I truly hope that things here eventually change...  Its so bad in some places around here that people who aren't even gay get beat up for being gay.  I have been with the same girl for five years now, but I actually had to quit a job once because one night some of the guys at work pushed me into a corner to interrogate me about my sexuality. The fact that I'm 6'1" 225 lbs probably explains why they had to resort to ganging up on me.  I looked at them in the face and told them to '#$#%' off. I then forced my way through them and right out the exit door never to return.  (I may be a big guy, but I'm not stupid. lol)  The only explanation that I can think of for this incident is the fact that I am openly friendly to every gay person I meet...

 

Anyway, it's nice to meet you unbuckldreads! I'm sure that your story will encourage many people who are facing similar predicaments. 

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Welcome!

 I am with the PP above that I really dont know any gay people and am looking forward to getting to know you (and others here as well) and breaking out of the indoctrinated "homosexuality is an abomination and everyone that is, is going to hell" mentality that i was raised with.

 

having my own child really caused me to realize just how terrible that teaching really was and something i did not want her to learn was ok.

 

i am sorry you had such a bad experience with your family. I sympathize. My family has cut me off because my husband and I went through a rough patch and separated for a few months. They didnt agree (divorce is a huge NO NO for their religion) and stopped speaking to me. It was a rough few months at first as i processed all that. I cant imagine being cut off just for being who you are. :(

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  • 3 weeks later...

I feel for you. I have some gender issues of my own, and I have a orientation much rarer than being gay, though I suspect there are many more in the closet at this time. I used to be on this site some years back under another name, but when I tried to get back on, it seemed they had no data on me. I don't see any of the familiar names from then, except for Dave. I will make a whole new opening statement and introduction within a short time.

 

I was brought up in a Catholic family who converted to a Pentecostal belief system before I left home, which was a forced exit BTW. To my mother I was an abomination to God and demon possessed. I have been in a documentary as well as a few other shows, and am also writing a book. I was from the northeast but due to a job, currently live in the south. That makes things definitely harder,  because Christian people are NOT loving and accepting. They have an extremely limited vision, and if you do not meet their criteria, the judgement is harsh. 

 

I became an atheist for a number of years as well, but now believe in the possibility of life after death, and spirituality, but not a hellish type existence described by Christianity. There are so many recorded accounts of people who have died and experienced an afterlife of sorts so I tend to not be so completely believing there is nothing that follows this life.

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Welcome back, nochurch4me. I've been on here since 2004, though with a years-long hiatus in the middle.  I might remember you from the old days!  Anyway, all the best with your book!

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I became an ally in high school, completely rejecting that homosexuality was a sin based on the ethos of Christ's teaching about love. Now that I've de-converted I have a lot less patience for homophobic religious talk. Welcome :-)

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I am a proud bisexual, but I may be more attracted to girls than boys.  When I first became a Christian, I thought god didn't like gays and they were bound for hell after death.  Eventually, I learned to become more accepting of gays, trans and BIs, it wasn't until months later that I discovered I was a bisexual.  I thought It was strange that I was attracted to girls, even more so than boys.

I'm quite comfortable being semi gay, but I would never tell my Christian family, they are clearly homophobic.

I also have a message. If you love someone, truly love someone, you wouldn't care that they are different, even if it is there sexual orientation, and also I believe in a loving cosmos too. Welcome! wub.png cloud9_99.gif

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The judgement and hatred of gay people, for absolutely no rational reason, is one of the most dispicable parts of christian doctrine.

 

The cool part is, that this trend in Xtiany is driving away young, liberal people from this primitive, hateful religion by the droves.

 

YAY!goodjob.gif

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