Over the next few days, I’ll be posting Stories of Reconciliation submitted by readers of how they’ve come to terms with their sexual orientation and faith — or their experience as a straight ally. No matter how much I write, I’m still writing from only my perspective.

I’ve learned over the years that the best way to show the real story — is to let people tell their own stories. Some of the stories I’ve received so far have been inspiring. Others are heartbreaking. Some are both.

If you’d like to submit an essay that tells of your own “eureka”moment of when you came to accept yourself or your LGBT loved ones, please submit it through the Contact page on this site. We will accept both written and YouTube submissions.

This first story is from a young woman named Hannah:

I recently read your article, and felt the need to share my story. My name is Hannah, I am 20 years old, and I am gay.

I grew up in what America calls the “Bible Belt” and for years struggled with hiding who I really was just to please society. Since a very young age I was apart of my church’s youth group, drama club, and even became a part of our church leadership as I got older.

In high school, I became well aware of my feelings for girls and telling someone in the church or even my closest friends would be devastating. Knowing that most of my friends attended the same church, I couldn’t tell them because they were always bashing “gay people” and at that time I went along with it because I didn’t want to be alone.

I am viewed by my friends and peers as a honest, dependable, hardworking person. Sadly, if I ever told them I was gay, I was sure that all of that would disappear simply because I love someone of the same gender. I always dated guys to “cover” my feelings for girls.

Finally, I told my best friend my junior year that I was gay, come to find out, she was too. The church I attended made me fear being gay, and for the longest time, I tried being straight. At one point, I even condemned my own best friend for being gay. To this day I regret that.

After high school, I attended a church college known as “Master’s Commission” which is a discipleship program that traveled around the country performing at churches and schools, spreading God’s Word. I loved it from the religious aspect, but still hid who I truly was. I graduated from there and decided to come home.

The only family member that knew I was gay at this point was my aunt. She had been supportive the entire time, and even had a gay best friend. My aunt and her best friend slowly helped me become comfortable with being gay and religious.

I started to attend her church which was gay-friendly and loved every minute of it. I finally came out to my family this year, and couldn’t be anymore happy. They all love and support me.

My church family, or what I thought was family, however, doesn’t even speak to me. They say being gay is an abomination and gay people don’t belong in the kingdom of Heaven.

I became very bitter and shut off for quite a while. I still have a hard time going to church because they were the people I looked up to and loved very much.

I am now comfortable with being gay and loving God. My relationship with Him hasn’t diminished whatsoever, and honestly, I am closer to Him now more than ever.

That’s my story, thanks for giving me the opportunity to share!

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