I rarely listen to podcasts, but I have just listened to Queer Freedom: How can we be both held and free? by Glennon Doyle after it was recommended to me. I would definitely say it is worth listening to.
It is about having faith and being gay, something that is still contentious even in 2022.
I admit that I am not someone who would describe themselves as religious as I have grown up seeing the negative impact it can have on the world and society which I think is a shame. At the heart of faith is a shared belief that can create strong community bonds but with that it would appear that there is often a price to pay.
I think I have always wanted to feel a sense of belonging, but I realise that I have never truly felt as though I belong. Growing up I liked the idea of being a part of a church because of the sense of community and I liked the idea of what having faith should stand for. However, I soon became aware that you would only be welcomed with loving arms if you followed their rules and lived your life how they expect you to and even as a child this didn’t sit right with me and so, I became sceptical of religion.
The bible has been interpreted in so many ways by so many different people and then these interpretations have been fed to thousands of people who like sheep have followed what they are being led to believe are the ‘rules’ of life.
I wonder if these people truly believe what they are being told whether they crave belonging to a community so much that they will overlook certain aspects or whether they may find it easier to live their lives in accordance with certain expectations and rules rather than having to think for themselves? I can see how any of these options could appeal especially as it can be hard and scary to be different, to stand our ground or fight for what we believe in, and I know only too well that people have a desire to belong.
I know that we can all be ignorant at times, particularly if we are completely unaware of something and sometimes, we are not aware of our actions or the impact these can have on others. To some extent I could forgive people for not knowing what they are doing but I would hope that if people were aware of their actions that they would alter their behaviour towards others even if it was something they didn’t necessarily understand or agree with.
One thing that Glennon says is that ‘we’ll never be ok if we don’t talk’ and she’s right. When I was listening to the podcast it really struck a nerve with me when she talked about how taking children to a church which is openly homophobic and not having the courage to find a different church or stop going allows children to soak up the shame and hatred and then it’s too late, the damage has been done.
I’m sitting here wondering where I picked up on religion having such rigid rules and this feeling of churches not being as accepting as they are made out to be at such a young age? I’m also wondering where my fear came from when it came to being gay? I spent years feeling ashamed as if I had done something wrong and that I had to hide it. It took me until the age of 33 to fully accept my sexuality and not worry about people knowing.
Fortunately, I have now got to an age where I am no longer prepared to be judged for who I am…it is my life, no one else’s and I believe I have a right to be happy and to embrace who I am, as does everybody else. Don’t get me wrong, I still have niggles…I sometimes wonder if people are looking or judging me as I walk hand in hand with my partner but equally it makes me happy to do that so why shouldn’t I and if people are judging I don’t actually care.
It saddens me that society and religion have a lot to answer for and that many people have felt that they have to choose between religion and themselves. As Glennon says, it shouldn’t be a choice between god or love, nor should we ever be told that god won’t love you if you are gay.
Yet so many churches still reject the idea of homosexuality and even if they appear to be ok with it, they still expect you to live your live by certain rules. People have had to make difficult choices to leave their church and their community which can be incredibly painful, but they have been left with no other choice but to remove themselves from a toxic and traumatic environment in order to put themselves first so that they have a chance to grow and be true to themselves.
It is sad, because undoubtedly the vast majority of Christians are kind-hearted people who genuinely think that they are doing the right thing and if they knew how much harm they have caused they would be mortified. I think I find it hard that people of faith can be so lovely and supportive towards others but at the same time they can’t let go of what they really believe to be true about sexuality.
The podcast talks about how we are allowed to disagree with certain things such as climate change but that we do not get to disagree with someone’s identity, instead you are rejecting someone. It is our choice to love someone or to reject them and it is not Christianity that stops you from loving others because of who they are.
It talks about how those who reject our identity and those who have homophobic beliefs (even if they are private believes) contributes to homophobia. Sometimes it may be through ignorance or fear of others’ opinions, but that fear rubs off on others and I think that was probably my experience growing up.
I loved it when Glennon said that we have to stop being afraid of small minded people – it’s true. Why do we let these bigoted people have so much power?
She talks about how we need to create a world where we don’t have to throw away what we need and that we can have faith and also be gay and be true to ourselves. That if anyone or any organisation asks you to abandon yourself or those you love, you should cut those ties.
Despite knowing all too well the damage that religion has caused and how heart-breaking it is to know the pain it has caused someone I love, I would be open to becoming part of a community of faith that is open and accepting of homosexuality.
I really admire Glennon Doyle for keeping her faith whilst being an activist for gay rights and modern Christianity.