This post is about an amazing experience I had at church yesterday. First I would like to share a little bit of my faith history. As a teen I was conflicted about God. I was not particularly educated on matters of faith, but as I understood it I was not particularly welcome in Gods house because of who I was. This was fine life went on. Later I started attending church. I had a genuine faith experience and I became a Christian. Still I was conflicted. While I was closeted about my gender identity I knew that it was not something that most churches would be ok with. I had questions, but nobody that I felt I could ask. fast forward to 3 months ago. I came out and was for the most part accepted by friends and loved ones, but I was afraid that I would have to give up fellowship at church in order to be true to myself.
That brings us to yesterday. A few weeks ago I talked to the all knowing Google about LGBT inclusive churches in my area. I looked at a few and selected one try out. I don't advocate any particular church publicly, but I am happy to talk privately about my views. I will say that as an LGBT person it's important to review the churches literature on the subject. It is important to read to find a church with a publicly open and affirming status. You may find little discrepancies here and there. For instance, the church I attended listed their support for "transgendered" people. Those familiar know that it's bad form to add the ED just as we wouldn't call someone "talled". Now, this doesn't mean you should reject a church. After all a church that accepts with typos is more promising than one that does not openly accept.
Yesterday I contemplated what to wear much more than I should have. Ultimately I chose a pair of jeans and a cute top. I did my make up and hair. I showed up early so I could decide if I wanted to stay before the service started. It didn't take long for me to realize that my concern was unnecissary. I was welcomed by smiling faces. I received a name tag, "Trish" written in sharpie. Sharpie, a permanent marker, I like that. Unlike so many places they took their cues from my presentation. Without having to be told, they used the proper pronouns.
I met the minister. She was welcoming and warm. Her acceptance of me was genuine. She escorted me to the sanctuary, introducing me to church members as we went along. I found a seat and read through my program. I noticed that this particular church had a more formal service style. That is neither good or bad and is all a matter of personal preference. As I sat members of the congregation stopped and welcomed me. This church had a small congregation and a slightly older demographic. One by one they welcomed me to their church. The service started and the choir sang. They were absolutely adorable and I loved the hymn selection. The children came up for time with the minister. They were equally cute. The minister delivered a message that for me was personally fitting, The message isn't always for you, but it's so rewarding on the days that it is.
After the service there was fellowship time. I went and met with members of the church. The kindness of these people was overwhelming. The minister spoke with me briefly and made me know that I am welcome. One of the church members, an older gentlemen, shared with me how his feelings on LGBT people has evolved over time and that he was glad that it had. People can change.
That day was one of those "this is it" moments. I felt at home, and I felt affirmed. I learned that day that just as I don't want to be judged by my cover, I can not do that to others either. I look forward to going back to church next Sunday. I would tell you friends, if you have been reluctant to explore your faith because of people, do not let them be a barrier. There are people, like those I met on Sunday, who may just surprise you when you don't surprise them.
"Nothing is too girly and nothing is too masculine. But I do love color, and maybe that's a little girly - especially pink." Stacy London