Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Christian Closet: Christy

 Christy

Introductions

For the most part, upon meeting someone new, a “typical” person would start to fill out a mental fact sheet. Cover the basics, what you plainly see on the surface. Name: Christy. Age: college-aged kid. Height: tall. Hair: dark. Sex: female.

As an introduction at work or a smile across the street begins to evolve into an acquaintanceship, a friendship, a whatever-you-want-it-to-be-ship, though, that fact sheet isn’t enough. A friend would soon discover that I can’t stand my full name, so using anything but Christy is a no-go. I’m 20 years old, younger than most of my friends, but not all. I was raised Methodist, but am a bit more of an eclectic Christian now that I’m an adult. I’m a cisgender woman, and though my skin is light, I’m proud of my Native American heritage.

But even that is still just the basics. I’m an INTJ, a relatively rare and analytical personality type. I spend more time observing and listening than I do talking, but I can certainly give a good comeback. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything I want to. There never are. My interests are as varied as the sky’s colors are as the sun sinks below the horizon.

I work in retail, which I find both exhausting and fun, as well as go to school. I love hiking, bicycling, and training horses. Being outside and with nature has always been my favorite thing. It’s part of the reason my favorite color is green. Unfortunately, because of a rare disorder that affects my connective tissues, school and work alone often leave me drained. I’m injured very easily. For a long time, I wanted to go into medicine and be like the doctors, nurses, and physical therapists who helped me recover from multiple operations to help make my joints more stable. As time has gone on, however, I realized my body cannot do everything I’d like it to do. As much as I would love to give back to the community as a physical therapist or a nurse, God would never ask me to do something that would cause me to be giving more than I have.

My other passion is English. Even when I was a kid, I would devour any book left in front of me. Right now, I’m halfway through The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. One of my favorites is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and I’ll gladly read Dead Men Do Tell Tales by William Maples over and over again. I’ll never watch a movie before I read the book.

Last summer, I achieved one of my biggest lifetime goals and published my first novel, Nightfall, which is a little bit murder mystery, a little bit coming-of-age. Almost every spare moment I have is spent pouring over detailed outlines, countless pages of planning work, and a file devoted to the rough draft of book two in the series.

Words are my passion. Paper and ink are the canvas and paint I use to work my craft. I hope someday to teach high school English. It’s a career that would both be physically accessible to me if (and more likely when) my condition worsens, and one that I would find incredibly fulfilling.

Oh, and I’m pansexual. Gender makes no difference to me.


"I can't lie to the world about love."


Q&A


When did you first realize you were pansexual?

I had an inkling something was “different” about me when I was fairly young. Maybe middle school. There’s absolutely no way it was any later than my sophomore year of high school.

I had my second knee surgery during the summer before my junior year. My mother had recruited my best friend to help her take care of me while I was recovering. They always say joint surgeries are some of the most painful operations there are, so I was on extremely strong pain killers-oxycodone and toradol being the ones that did the most for me.

The night after I came home from the hospital, my mother left for an hour to go grocery shopping. My friend was over and had my med schedule taped to the wall, had figured out how to use my walker, put my wheelchair close to my bed, and sprawled out on the floor with my dog at her side and an episode of “1000 Ways to Die” on the tv. They had both expected me to sleep until my mom got home, but between her watching the one tv show guaranteed to give me nightmares and my phone buzzing, I couldn’t sleep.

After the home phone had gone to the machine multiple times and my cell phone started vibrating off my side table, I finally picked it up. It was another close friend of mine asking how I felt. Though I really wanted to talk to him, my words were hard to string together and it felt impossible to keep my head up. I remember a garbled conversation before the friend taking care of me took the phone away, but none of the details stuck other than the concern evident in his voice even on the other end of the line.

Once I was well enough to return to a mostly normal routine, both of them insisted I did not want to know the content of that conversation. I was 16 and under the influence of some heavy prescriptions when I admitted to my two closest friends I wasn’t straight, and they didn’t even tell me I had told them until I was ready to come out for myself.

"The very first person I came out to... was a youth leader at my old church. That was easily my biggest mistake."


Are you out? If so, when, how, and/or why did you come out?

Yes, I am out.

For most of my life, it was something I kept quiet. There was no reason to tell anyone; it wasn’t a relevant piece of information. I wasn’t overly interested in dating in high school. Horseback riding, band, working for the school paper
, and youth group took up most of my time.

Shortly after I graduated, however, I began to develop feelings for someone I had known ever since elementary school. We were best friends when we were younger, but lost contact for several years. It wasn’t until I was 17 that we reconnected and became close again.

We began dating about a year later. For the first five months of our relationship, both of us were so thoroughly in the closet, I could tell you exactly how many dust bunnies had gotten tangled in my hair. Eventually, though, it became too exhausting. It was too much stress trying to hide.

It’s been almost two years since we started dating. In that time, I have earned my associates' degree, he has come out as a trans man, and we’ve traveled halfway across the country together. I love him. I can’t lie to the world about love.


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

The very first person I came out to when I started having feelings for my partner was a youth leader at my old church. That was easily my biggest mistake.

I went to her almost in tears, terrified by what I was feeling and what I was reading in the Bible and online. I didn’t want to go to hell. I didn’t want to turn my back on God. I didn’t want to be hated by half of the universe. Yes, younger me was a bit dramatic.

She had always been someone I looked up to and went to for advice. Instead, all I heard were words of condemnation -- how I wasn’t praying enough, how God had someone in mind for me out there, how I was twisting the words of the Bible to suit my purposes, how everyone had a personal struggle that only God could help them through.

That God would only give me as much as I could handle.

"What they were asking me to fight was love. I loved this person, and they were hurting me."

Those weren’t the words a terrified teenager needed to hear. I broke down crying in her house and ended up locking myself down emotionally. Multiple people from my church tried talking to me about it, but I kept hearing the same words over and over. I just wasn’t trying enough. If I just tried harder, those feelings would go away. If I quit twisting words to suit my purposes, it would be easier to resist temptation.

But what they were asking me to fight was love. I loved this person, and they were hurting me for doing the very thing God is supposed to be the embodiment of. It was extremely disorienting.


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

Take the scared, miserable little creature from the question beforehand and plop her down in a Communications 230 class. She’s shy and nervous, half feeling like her entire life is on display, overly exposed by the crowd around her. Her church certainly tried to put her on display before she ran as far and fast as she could.

By some small miracle, the professor grouped me in with another student I vaguely recognized. He had played the flute in the college band the year before. Playing clarinet, I didn’t know him personally, but his was a face I had seen across the semi-circle before.

He convinced me to open up. I started talking to him, eventually relaxing and forming the beginnings of a friendship. Something more than just a friendly “we share this massive project worth literally our entire grade let’s not mess this up” sort of relationship. Lo and behold, I had found myself another LGBT Christian.

It was through him I was introduced to a community of other people like me. In the coming months, I was exposed to dozens of different people and ideas, terms and definitions I had never heard before, and was encouraged to grow and think on my own. It was during those first few months of meeting people who were there to support me, not stifle me, that I came to accept completely that I am pansexual, and that’s okay. I had friends who loved me and understood me. I had a support system built on common ground.

I felt safe.

"I was introduced to a community of other people like me... I had friends who loved me and understood me. I had a support system built on common ground. I felt safe."

What is one thing you wish straight cisgender Christians understood?

"I can’t pray it away."

I can’t pray it away.

If you knew the nights I spent crying in my bedroom, multiple versions of the Bible spread out across my bed, several different articles about interpreting these painful passages open in tabs on my laptop, you’d see how badly those words hurt. If you saw how many fights my partner and I had early on in our relationship because I was scared of what would happen if my Christian family discovered us, you’d know how bad it hurts. If you knew the self-loathing that comes when you have a deep, sinking, disgusting feeling in the pit of your stomach that tells you your own family would hate you if only they really knew you, you’d know how it felt.

There’s so much fear in those words. Fear of being inadequate is gripping. I spent so much time scared my family would hate me, I didn’t consider that maybe they wouldn’t (and they don’t-most of them are supportive, even if they don’t agree with me. My conservative grandmother is the first to jump to my defense if someone says something bad about me). I was so scared that I wasn’t trusting God enough to let Him change me, I didn’t consider for a long while that maybe He was telling me I didn’t need changing at all.

I do not understand how someone can be attracted to just one gender. If that’s what works for you, that’s all well and fine. But for me, gender is completely irrelevant. I love a person. I’m attracted to their laugh, their intellect, their smile, their attitude.

I can’t ask God to make me stop loving. He won’t do that. It’s not something that will change. People are people to me, and I love who I love. There is not a single thing more painful than telling me I am gay (which I’m not to begin with) because I am not close enough to God.

Please don’t hate me for loving.

"I can’t ask God to make me stop loving. He won’t do that. It's not something that will change... Please don’t hate me for loving."


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

So you’re attracted to pans?

No, just kidding. That’s usually said in jest.

Really, the one that gets on my nerves the most is probably, “When did you decide you were gay?” or “Why did you choose this lifestyle?” Both of these questions ignore two major points.

  • I didn’t choose this. No one would choose to face harassment, discrimination, hate speech, hate crimes, and intense fear.
  • This isn’t a lifestyle. Everything I wrote about in the introduction was exactly the same before and after I came out. I’m still an artist. I still write novels. I still train horses. I still love reading. Not a single thing about my lifestyle has changed since coming out except I’m a university student now instead of attending a community college, and that would have happened either way.

"I didn’t choose this. No one would choose to face harassment, discrimination, hate speech, hate crimes, and intense fear."

4 comments:

  1. Wow, this is pretty intense... Especially the idea of coming out without knowing you had come out. I imagine that would feel kind of painful and confusing, maybe. Still, I'm glad that your family has your back when your church family doesn't, and I'm glad you're proud of who you are. That just sounds like a better way to live.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Christy! This was really revealing.

    (Also, what body of water are you and that horse in? It looks very big.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Columbia River! I grew up on the riverbanks. :)

      Delete
  2. Cool, I'm INTJ too (I test that way anyway), and I totally relate to the idea of not having enough hours in a day to do everything you want to do. *sighs* So many things, not nearly enough time.


    This has been a really interesting series. I've never gotten the chance to hear things from the LGBT community's point of view, and I think it's important that, whether or not the church agrees with you, you get the chance to tell your stories. :)


    Alexa
    thessalexa.blogspot.com
    verbositybookreviews.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete

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