As a gay Southern Baptist, I have not felt particularly motivated to attend church in the past few years. Homophobia, hypocrisy, and attacks are common in the black Baptist church. Every time you go to church, you never know when a preacher is going to launch in an anti-gay tirade. You are not encouraged to be out. People will look past your sexuality as long as you don't say anything, but the moment you come out, things change. Trust me, they change.
As a result, I rarely seek out churches, even though the church has always been a big part of my life. I want to be part of the fold; I want to be accepted. But I don’t want to be made to feel like an abomination when I step into God's house. I don't want to feel like I should just stay home; or that if I go to church, I must sit quietly and hope not to be noticed.
As I was researching and familiarizing myself with all the welcoming churches and programs within the various denominations that allow and advocate for LGBT inclusion, including the Affirming and Welcoming American Baptists, I realized – and this was a major epiphany – that there has been no reason for me to remain outside the church! This is the fundamental reason that Believe Out Loud is so important, why spreading the word is so important: so that others like me will realize that they do not have to reject their Christianity in order to accept their sexuality; they do not have to be in exile from the church or fear they have entered the Lion’s Den every time they seek a place to worship.
Because of Believe Out Loud, I now know there are churches that will include me, love me and embrace me; there are churches where I won’t be abused with an anti-gay tirade from the pulpit. So, I have decided to give church another try. In fact, I discovered that there is an inclusive church in my neighborhood. This Sunday, I will be there without fear, anxiety or repression. This Sunday, I will Believe Out Loud.
Image flickr Burwash Calligrapher