Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Christian Closet: Emily Hope

Emily Hope

Age: 23

Gender: Female

Sexual orientation: SOOOOO GAY

Religious denomination:  Nondenominational. I refuse to draw lines where God didn’t draw lines.

Education/career: I am a writer/YouTuber going for a degree in criminal justice/political science.

Favorite food: steak

Favorite book: The Shack

Favorite movie: Lord of the Rings extended editions

Favorite color: I am an artist; I don’t really have a favorite.

Hobbies/sports/interests: I bike, walk, hike

Dreams/goals in life: I want to make a difference. I want to help bridge the divide between the church and the marginalized.

Myers-Briggs type: ISTJ

"I felt God call me to live openly and honestly, so that others in my situation would know they are not alone."




When did you first realize you were gay?

It was a very long journey for me. I knew there was something different about me from a very early age, but I had a hard time pinpointing what was different. It wasn’t until I moved out on my own at 18 that I started putting the pieces together, and I didn’t come out until I was 22.


Are you out? When, how, and why did you come out?

I started the process of coming out during 2014. Unfortunately, due to some family members, I was robbed of the chance to formally come out to my family… I am fully out of the closet now, because I felt God call me to live openly and honestly, so that others in my situation would know they are not alone. So in January 2015, I posted my first YouTube video, coming out publicly as an LGBT Christian.


How have Christians hurt you as you struggle with your sexuality?

My family betrayed me by violating my privacy online, telling everyone in my family of my sexual orientation, and then I endured a very nasty phone call from my parents spouting religion at me. I have had a lot of difficult and deeply wounding conversations with well-meaning Christians since then about my sexuality.

Many find it easier to spout verses at me rather than listen to my journey. Their assumptions about my sexual orientation and my relationship with God are very hurtful and make it difficult to trust that God loves me.

"Many find it easier to spout verses at me rather than listen to my journey. Their assumptions about my sexual orientation and my relationship with God are very hurtful and make it difficult to trust that God loves me."


How have Christians helped or encouraged you as you struggle with your sexuality?

While there have been many Christians who have hurt me, there are just as many who have shown Christ’s love to me. Many of the first people I came out to were so loving, so supportive, and have not treated me any differently.

The most powerful moment for me was hearing my pastor who I watch online beg the church to not use the gospel as justification for being hateful. It was the first time in the history of that church that I heard that pastor speak up for the LGBT community. It was a small step, but it has a massive impact on me.


What is one thing you wish straight cisgender Christians understood?

When your determination to take a stand for what is right overshadows your ability to love, you cease to be a bridge to Christ and start to resemble a blockade.


What is the one sexuality question you're most tired of hearing?

“Where are you at with God on this?”

It’s a less than clever way of asking if I have read the scriptures on homosexuality. They want to know if I am sexually active. They assume that coming out as gay means that I am completely immoral, not a Christian, etc. I get so annoyed with that question, because as soon as I tell them that I am still waiting for marriage, that I still follow God, that I am pursuing my calling above all else, they stop me and tell me I answered their question.

One person who asked me this was then shocked to know that I had never been in a relationship, gay or straight, never so much as held someone’s hand or gotten a kiss on the cheek. Their assumptions collide with the truth and they shut the conversation down once I have exposed what they were really asking me, because it is easier for them to make assumptions and believe lies than to actually listen, hear and understand the truth. It collides with their narrow view of scripture and LGBT people. And most shut the conversation down and walk away because they can’t handle that.


"'Where are you at with God on this?' It’s a less than clever way of asking if I have read the scriptures on homosexuality. They want to know if I am sexually active... they shut the conversation down once I have exposed what they were really asking me, because it is easier for them to make assumptions and believe lies than to actually listen."


What is your greatest fear about being gay?

My greatest fear? Easy. That people will see the gay before they see ME, let alone Christ in me. It’s such a small, insignificant part of who I am. There are so many facets of who I am, and I have so much to offer the world, and I am terrified that people, particularly the church, will discount my voice, my experience, my gifts, and my talents, because they can't see past the gay.

It’s funny; conservative Christians are the only ones who seem to see the Gay before they see Jesus in me. Everyone else sees Christ at work in my life, but the church largely ignores Christ in me and focuses on the gay because they are convinced that you cannot be a follower of Christ and openly LGBT.


What is your favorite thing about being gay?

This is the easiest question to answer. There is not a whole lot I enjoy about being LGBT. But one thing I know I would miss if I suddenly were able to be straight, is the incredible Christian LGBT community. My worldview has expanded exponentially. I get to have conversations with people around the world. I have been able to confront so many of my biases about so many different things, but particularly, looking at the way people live in their individual communities and countries as compared to mine. It is an incredibly humbling experience, to realize how big the world is, and just how many amazing people are in it. I have made connections with people all over the world as a result of my coming out and my search for support. It is the one thing I would not want to lose.


How does your family handle your sexuality?

I rarely speak with my family. I am trying to extend a bridge of forgiveness and reconciliation to members of my family, and a select few are responding and trying, but largely, there is a massive rift now because again, what they largely see is the gay. Not all of them, but most of them. It's painful. It's hard. I am trying, but so much damage has been done before and after they learned of my sexuality, and I am unsure how much of a role my family will play in my life as I grow, mature, and try to start my own family. It breaks my heart that most of my family is missing out on getting to know the real me, because they prefer to cling to their assumptions.

Some talk to me, and we just ignore the LGBT thing altogether. They can’t handle it, so I try to respect that. It’s hard though, because it severely limits conversation. There is so much I cannot tell them because while being LGBT is but a small part of me, it influences a lot of my life.

"It breaks my heart that most of my family is missing out on getting to know the real me, because they prefer to cling to their assumptions."

Others are distant; our conversations are even more limited. The best example I can think of is the scene in a recently released LGBT movie starring Katherine Heigl, called Jenny’s Wedding. (I highly recommend it.) Her first conversation with her mom on the phone following coming out was stilted, short-lived, and incredibly awkward and painful. I was watching it with a friend and she looked at me and nodded. “That is exactly what it is like after coming out -- both with family, and with many of my Christian friends.”

And there are some in my family that I am unsure I will ever have any sort of meaningful conversation with again. So much trust has been destroyed as a result of their actions. I have learned to forgive, but largely, I don’t think reconciliation is possible unless God does a miracle in their hearts. It’s painful. But that is my reality.

"My greatest fear? Easy. That people will see the gay before they see ME, let alone Christ in me."

You can find Emily on Tumblr and her YouTube channel. She invites anyone who wants to talk to email her at emilyhopegc@gmail.com.

2 comments:

  1. Hey, fellow ISTJ! (There are like no ISTJs, much less girl ISTJs out there. So it is just cool that you are one. Anyway.) Also, high fives for LOTR. :)

    These stories you're sharing are equally painful and beautiful to read. On the one hand, I am so sorry for the pain you've suffered, especially from other Christians, regarding your orientation, especially because you weren't ready. That sounds really hard. :( At the same time, it's really cool that you do have a supportive community and that you are so willing to explore and promote all parts of yourself whether that be the gay part or the writer part or whatever.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. :)

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  2. Thank You heather for reading my story and appreciating my journey. It is nice to know that my voice is heard, even if it is on a small scale, and thank you Emily, for sharing space on your blog to let our voices be heard!

    ReplyDelete

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