- CanadianJoelMemberNovember 29, 2018 at 12:52 pmPost count: 1
I grew up in Ontario Canada close to Toronto in very conservative evangelical/charismatic circles. Now that I am older I think streams of fundamentalism where woven into the churches I was in but they probably would not identify that way. Our family was heavily and unfortunately influenced by organizations like Focus on the Family who in my personal opinion destroys families who have LGBTQ+ people in them.
I knew that I was gay at a very young age but the religious environment I grew up in did not make it OK to be gay. So I pretty much suppressed it until I couldn’t any longer in my early twenties. It was almost like pushing your own version of conversion therapy on yourself and it did not work.
The overall church environments that I grew up in were very sex negative in general (even for straight people) and supportive of conversion therapy behind closed doors. I didn’t even learn about sex education because that was inappropriate and “worldly”. In fact one church we went too had an ex-gay pastor who I knew was still gay because it takes one to know one and that is not how it works. Being in that church really made me think if this was the future I wanted? To be closeted and in this conservative cult like community married to a women? The answer was a resounding NO. After church moving throughout my teenage years our family got involved with a small house church that introduced me to a charismatic circle in the greater Toronto area. Long story short less than 1 year later at the age of 19 I moved to Northern California to attend Bethel’s School of Ministry. That experience was probably one of the worst experiences to go through in the closet as that church is incredibly anti-LGBTQ. If I would have known what I was getting into beforehand I would not have gone there as I now honestly think they are a cult. My experience at that church was basically misguided leadership trying to push conversion therapy on me. I declined their offer for prayer because being gay is not broken nor does it need to be fixed. Long story short I came back to Canada and was not accepted to return to their “school”. After doing research on that church/their history I was appalled to find out their ignorance when it came to LGBTQ people/relationships and their support for conversion therapy. Now years later I am very thankful I did not go down that route in life, but I am still affected by certain messages that their church pushed on me as a 19 year old that mentioned homosexuality being broken/flawed. The leadership at the time almost bullied LGBTQ people from the pulpit and made it very clear that this was clearly evil and unacceptable. THAT screws you up when it comes to accepting a fundamental part of who you are that you DID NOT choose…. your gayness, especially as a 19 year old.
Fast forward many years now in my life I am fully affirming of my gay sexuality but I did not get there overnight. I no longer believe that me being gay/in a same sex relationship is sinful anymore, it is actually a beautiful life giving thing. I also don’t have to defend my sexuality to other people anymore. It is still a process of acceptance but I am getting there. I have seen a psychologist, left non-affirming churches and continue to set boundaries with unhealthy relationships including with family members who are connected with non-affirming circles.
That is a short summary!RainbowChildSpectatorNovember 30, 2018 at 9:59 amPost count: 21
Wow CanadianJoel, that is quite a story. I continue hearing about the negative affects some fundamental and Pentecostal church groups have had or are having on young LGBTQI people, and it saddens me deeply. The very place where we should find unconditional love and acceptance, we instead find hostility and judgement. And this happens due to fear and ignorance. I wonder why such church leaders are so closed to further learning, and seem to be unaware of the damage their dogmatic doctrines incur to vulnerable people?
I commend you for being on the road to a healthy place of self-acceptance. You are right to set boundaries with certain family members, as this is important to your journey to complete wholeness. I hope you will find an affirming church group, should you feel the need. There are some wonderful LGBTQI Christians out there who offer a space where you can be who you are and experience the love and support you need.
Let’s hope for a day when every church group will be a safe haven for all people, and not just a select few.
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