I was raised in the church by biological family whose faith was deeply rooted in the southern-friend salvation of keeping up appearances.
The same people who smiled and sang, “Oh, Happy Day” from the pulpit told me I was worthless. An abomination. That I would be damned for all eternity. One pastor called me the antichrist because I had been accused of being homosexual with no evidgence or discussion. The same pastor forgave my step-father for years of infidelity and abuse and informed my parents that my “lifestyle” was the reason for their marital woes.
Then this weekend I saw a billboard with a huge rainbow flag and the words PROUD TO BE DELIVERED. This veiled message appeared to be supportive of Pride Month when in truth, it was another church using underhanded tactics to reach vulnerable LGBTQ+ people with the message that we can be saved from our wicked ways.
It got me thinking about what the church has taught me over the years.
You taught me that yours is a god of unconditional love while simultanously teaching me that his followers have carte blanche to exercise unbridled hate.
You taught me that I was worthless and dangerous, and that the only way I could redeem myself was to turn my back on who I was.
You taught me that my mental health and happiness are secondary to anyone who waives a King James bible in the air. You taught me that celebrating my queerness is all it takes to indoctrinate your children.
You taught me that a gay man in makeup and a dress was dangerous for children but failed to forewarn me about the members of the clergy who are far more predatory than a drag queen reading a storybook.
You taught me that a despicable man with a lifelong history of treating others horribly was “God’s choice” to be our president and never once waivered despite an ever-growing list of misogyny, narcissism, sociopathy, and blatant abuse of power.
You taught me that I don’t matter. You taught me that I don’t deserve love. You taught me that no matter what I did, I would never be good enough.
This is the point where I say thank you. The treatment I received from my family and from the church in my younger years nearly destroyed me, but I picked myself up. I dedicated my time and attention to becoming the best version of myself I could imagine. THE BEST VERSION OF MYSELF THAT *I* COULD IMAGINE. Because your imagination almost killed me.
I became a responsible, loving, and compassionate adult in spite of you. Now I spend my time making life better for others by teaching them that everything you taught me was as lie.
If you’re reading this and anything I wrote resonates with you, I want you to know four things:
You deserve love.
You are enough.
You are perfect exactly as you are.
Never forget that I love you, and that excludes no one.