Ever since my church got a new pastor at the start of the year, I’ve actually been enjoying church. I started attending church more regularly this summer, and I’d even venture to say I’ve become more religious about being spiritual.
In a weird sort of way, this has caused me a lot of anxiety these past few months.
I’ve contemplated anonymously calling my new pastor to see his stance on “The Gays.” There is nobody at my church who is openly gay. While I remember there being a lesbian couple who had their children’s Christening at our church years ago, I haven’t seen that family since. I can’t even recall anyone mentioning the word “gay” at church during my entire childhood. While I don’t think my religion would frown on homosexuality as much as other religions, as I’ve done extensive research on Wikipedia, I just don’t know.
So, when I became engaged to V two weeks ago, I knew I would have to face my questions and concerns eventually.
The church I’m a member of is very important to my family. It holds a lot of meaning in our family, as it was the church my grandparents had raised my mom and her siblings in, the church where my parents got married, and where each of my siblings and I had our Christenings, First Communions, and Confirmations. My grandparents were always active in the church, as they were practically founding members, and it was even the church where my grandpa’s funeral was held.
I took my Grandma out to dinner this week to talk to her about how I’ve enjoyed going to church, and how I only wear my ring on the weekend so I wanted to know if she’d be comfortable with me attending church with it, that I didn’t want to put her in an awkward position. She got teary eyed, grabbed my hand, and told me “Grandma loves you, and would never be embarrassed by you! Show off that ring!” I then explained to her that I wasn’t worried about embarrassing her, but rather I was worried about her being put in an awkward position because I’d be coming out and sort of forcing her to come out too.
Fast forward to yesterday.
Yesterday, on her own, Grandma called all of the conservative, religious extended family members I have only seen once or twice in my life to say, “Hi! Kailynn’s gay…and ENGAGED!” in one breath. She was met by a bit of confusion, but mostly happiness because my Grandma isn’t the sort of woman you want to upset. She did, however, get a lot of questions like “Do her parents know?” and “Are her parents happy?”
Today, I went to church with Grandma. I’ve never been so nervous to come out in my entire life– I was actually shaking more than I did when I came out to my family. Maybe it’s the stereotypes of religion + The Gays in my head, but I was inexplicably nervous about being potentially frowned at by my church.
HA. This is what I looked like on the day of my Confirmation, almost 10 years ago.
The first person who noticed my ring was my youth group leader from my teen years, and she got a big smile on her face, and asked me who the lucky fellow was. I stumbled and said, “Actually, I’m lesbian, I’m engaged to a woman. Her name is V.” My youth group leader looked a bit taken aback and then declared, “Well, it’s legal in New Jersey now! Do your parents know? Are they happy for you?” After chit chatting with her and assuring her that my parents and Grandma were happy for me, and that Grandma actually seems to like V more than me, the Big Gay Church Parade moved on. My aunt and uncle oogled over my ring, and then the service started. Afterwards… well, Grandma got to work.
Grandma literally dragged me around church and shoved my ring finger in a few people’s faces as she said, “Notice anything about Kailynn’s hand??!” When they would say “Who’s the lucky fellow?”, she would grin, giggle, and nudge me so I would say, “I’m a lesbian. I’m engaged to a woman.” I was met with looks of surprise, which my Grandma recognized as shock, but I recognized as shock, potential disapproval, and feigning happiness with no clue of what else to do to make the situation socially acceptable. Then the church ladies got to work and I was asked questions about how I met my friend, what she does, and typical questions about the wedding date, dress, etc. At one point, a man who both of my grandparents were close with seemed floored, and my grandma said, ”Put it in a pipe and smoke that, ‘Bob’!”
Needless to say, by way of my grandma– and the inevitable church gossip– I’m out to the church. I’m not sure how to feel about this. I didn’t get the chance to talk to my pastor, but I’m thinking of doing so via email just so he can be prepared if anyone has any backlash– or conflicted thoughts– about the homo in church. Most of the people my Grandma ambushed today are older and old-fashioned, and I’m sure the church gossip has just begun. I don’t know how my church, religion, or Pastor feel about “The Gays,” and, much like how I felt in high school, I am the only person in my church who knows the emotions I’m feeling of being engaged, happy, and being unsure if my love is accepted by my religion.
I guess it wouldn’t be a proper church outing if I didn’t leave thinking about religion, huh?