Black or African American

I Was Kicked Out Of My Church For Being Gay—And God Still Loves Me

by Denny Barnes

I was baptized a few weeks before my 19th birthday because of the Book of Romans and its assurance that once you come to Christ, your mind is renewed and you are set free from the bondage of sin.

After my baptism, I walked around with my Bible. I told my whole family and strangers about my conversion from atheism. I know I seemed crazy, but I was floored by the concept of God’s promises and his unfathomable, boundless grace. I could not understand how anyone could deny such good news.

I could not understand how there was ever a time I did not believe.

My newly acquired faith hit me at a time when I did not know which way was up. I was on the verge of dropping out of community college, I could not find a fit socially, I was fighting constantly with my parents, and I had no concept of the future. I believed Christ was the only way to sort out my post-adolescent messes.

I was zealous about reading the Bible, going to church, and praying. I was relentless. And yet, I had not brought to God my biggest obstacle—my sexuality. It was not until I came out to a friend at the church by recklessly confessing my love for him that my sexuality came into the mix.

Poor guy, I came out of left field with my declaration and he had to ask church leadership for help. News of my sexuality spread like wildfire. My friend avoided me like the plague, and I was a mess. I had to be a fool not to notice the eyes on me at church the following Sunday.

It was impossible to not hear the chatter of the congregation.

By the next week, I had been “let go” from the church. I got a call from my deacon saying I had to change my “lifestyle,” and that there was not any room for deviant behavior in church. I told him I felt like I’ve lost everything. He told me to read the Book of Job.

I felt judged and gross. I felt alone. My deepest fear was to have my homosexuality “ruin it for me,” and now it showed up, ruining everything. I was steadily riding high on the glory train until my truth showed up and got everybody mad.

I knew some Christians had a problem with being gay—“it’s in the Bible,” they would say. My pastor spoke out against it. My family spoke against it. I came to Christ thinking I could show him a neutered part of me, and I would still reap the benefits—that I would be celibate and he would fix the gay part, somehow.

But homosexuality was as much a part of me as any.

I was faced with feeling wronged by the God that had invigorated me. I was given the opportunity to plant seeds of bitterness. I cried a lot in those months after having to leave the church. This was heartbreaking enough, but to make matters worse, I could not even tell my parents because that meant I would have had to come out to them.

As I write this, twelve years later, I get a chill thinking about how frightening this time was for me. I read a lot of scripture back then. I had a lot of talks with family members and Christians about whether God would ever turn a person away. They all said no, as if the concept were so foreign. The bottom line is, there isn’t anything that will make God turn away.

“The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him. He hears their cry and saves them,” says Psalm 145:18-19.

So I took it all to God.

I cried out. I prayed about it. I told God ALL of my truth.  I “let” God see the gay side of me, later realizing God sees all sides of me at all times anyway. The parts my former church saw and rejected, God had already seen. Despite all the shame, I felt for not being good enough, man enough, straight enough, etc., God loved me. And that was some unfathomable grace.

So why did God let me get kicked out of church? Why did he let me spend so much time in my room regretting my baptism and hating myself? Why did he let me be so conflicted? So that years later, I could share my story with you.

I got kicked out of the church, and I felt horrible. But I took it to God, and he loved and nurtured me.

It took a while, but after months of reflection, I decided to love and pursue Christ regardless of whether or not I have a place to worship him, regardless of whether others think I deserve to. I decided to accept myself and not be ashamed.

So I advocate for myself and other LGBTQ people in my prayers. I lift up people who are ostracized for being LGBTQ.

I tell others it’s ok, you’re not alone.

Photo via flickr user Guy Donges

Comments (11)

Ronald Hewitt

I too went through these
I too went through these torchers but mine lasted many more years. I married to hide my being gay. Wanted to be a pastor but knew I couldn’t being a gay man. I’m 70 now single, and alone. Oh if I had only been true to myself those years ago. My pillow at night still gets laced with the drops of tears that spring from my eyes.

david Astill

Dear Ron, I am 70 too. I
Dear Ron, I am 70 too. I was gay. I got married not to escape or cover up but because I couldnt see a lonely life ahead. I buried myself i the marriage and loved and looked after her. She died in November and I came out. Since then I have worked so hard to build up knowledge experience and confidence as a gay. At this present moment Ive got a boyfriend and I expect this to become a proper life together. All this in 9 months with lovely support too. So Ron it can be achieved even at 70. My best wishes to you. Oh and my pillow is wet with the tears over different loves Ive had

Ashley carette

I have also just recently
I have also just recently been kicked out of my church which I grew up in and grew in The Lord it’s a baptist church and I’ve also been baptized. For awhile I hated god and denied him than I also decided that they are not the ones to judge me and am currently looking for a new church home cuz I’m not even allowed on the property until I confess but god has gotten me through so much and he will continue to get me through more


Ashley, I would urge you to
Ashley, I would urge you to seek out a Presbyterian or United Church of Christ congregation. These are two that have openly voted in their denominations to never turn away anyone, regardless of race or sexual orientation. I am sure there are others, but these I know have publicly announced their open and affirming nature.

James Roads

Thank you for your story it
Thank you for your story it is so familiar to me. Right now I am without a church home but you give me hope that I will find my way back to my family in Christ.

RJ Abada, OFM

we drink from our own wells
we drink from our own wells 😀

Lisa Vaughn

I was a Jehovah’s Witness
I was a Jehovah’s Witness from the time that I was 5 years old. Not by choice, but because most of my family were involved with this religion. I got baptized at the age of 17 and was ex-communicated by the age of 23 for being a lesbian. It took many years of pain, tears and reflecting on who I am to realize that God loves me just as I am and he is a prominent part of my life. I could never live without God’s acceptance and love. The sin is not in who we love, but not accepting ourselves as we are.

John McKenna

You weren’t kicked out for
You weren’t kicked out for being something but for acting on a disordered inclination.

Alyssa Nalapo

One thing I’ve learned with
One thing I’ve learned with coming out, is that you’ll see who your loved ones are. If they can’t accept this part of you, then they can’t love all of you. But God loves every part of you, not just accepts it. The struggles we face, whether they be related to the lgbt struggle or beyond, is to brings us to wherever God intends us to be.

Ashiya Scott

I’ve recently been thinking
I’ve recently been thinking about my sexuality and my liking of both genders and came out to my friends as bisexual they supported me and said it’s okay but when my church found out they were so mad at me. And I told them off because of how mad I was just because my sexuality and lifestyle that I was going to live with was different. So I told them if god didn’t want me to like and gender just guys than why would he make me that way and if I have disowned god why would he still watch over me like people say?

Cynthia Campos

I have been open about my
I have been open about my homosexuality all my life. At an early age, I ran away from home because the psychical abuse and the conversion therapy did not work. Years pass and I became close to my family again, I spoke to my family about going back to church but was afraid of rejection. My mother told me the God is love and we should all live by grace. So encouraged me to go to church, so I did and I went to my mother’s church. The pastor knew I was gay and he didn’t seem to care, he was searching for a drummer and I had the skills to play. Plus my mother has always been a worship leader so growing up I knew a lot of songs that were played in church. For four months straight I was playing in the music group. But then someone new came and joined the band, he pointed out my homosexuality so the pastor took me down and told me he does no want me in the church. I am so heart broken and have fallen into depression. My family still goes back to church and I feel so left out and heartbroken. Playing music for God has always been my way to show my love to God. Now I feel alone, self-hating, and don’t feel happy with how Churches treat gay people. I don’t know what to do. I can feel myself falling back to the world and even angrier than ever. I’m Lost can someone help me with some guidance or advice?

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