Shhh. Don’t tell. I’m a gay Christian.

jesus-christian-gay-wedding-easter-ecards-someecardsI’m a gay Christian. There, I said it. I’m officially out of the closet. Though I’m forty-seven years old, it’s taken me this long to come to terms with my faith and the fear of backlash against it. But I remain optimistic. I’m counting on the societal shifts on issues like gay bullying and gay marriage and hoping they translate to gay Christianity too. Is there a place for me? I’m still not sure. To many evangelical Christians, Catholics, and Protestants, I’m an oxymoron. On the flip side, many of my gay brethren scoff at my determination to be affiliated with religions that rejected, condemned, and scarred us. We don’t need Christianity, they tell me. It’s an outdated and oppressive institution. I’d be more accepted by my own kind if I decided to become a Log Cabin Republican than a church-going lesbian. I understand their confusion. Why would I want to belong to a belief system that caused me so much harm?

I grew up gay and Catholic in the Texas Bible Belt. My devout mom and dad, both educated at Catholic universities, held the Church in the highest regard, and my mother once told me that AIDS was God’s wrath against homosexuals. During my teen years, our parish brought on a charismatic priest who sported a Tom Selleck, Magnum P.I. mustache and energized our youth group. He made going to church fun, and I might have felt included—if I was a boy. I envied my male classmates who spent private time with Father Kos and got invited to sleepovers in the rectory, until a decade later, when one of them committed suicide, and Kos fled the state amid charges of sexual abuse. It’s an all too familiar tale now, but our Dallas diocese became the first to pay out a major settlement for knowing about this priest’s actions and covering them up. After these things came to light, I remained a believer in God, but a little less so in the Catholic Church, which used our parishioners offerings to fund their legal defense.

Fast forward to 2010. I am with my partner of over a decade and our adopted son who is four. I have a house in town and a mortgage and a nice life. I am happy, and I am still Catholic. My partner and I enroll our son in Sacred Heart of Jesus School in the liberal haven of Boulder, Colorado. We ask the director of the school if there will be any problem—if our son will be penalized or ostracized in any way—because of us—because he has two mommies. We are told no. Our son enjoys his teachers and classmates in the pre-school Teddy Bear room. We want our son to know God and have that foundation of faith. Months later, the priest calls me into his office and lets me know that they will be expelling children with gay parents from the school. How can a child be blamed for whom his parents are?

CNN covers the controversy. Joy Behar does an expose. Parents (mostly straight) protest outside the Church. But in the end, nothing changes. Except for me.

I left the Catholic Church in 2010. I realize now that I somehow thought that if I could win the Church’s approval and acceptance of our non-traditional family, I might win my parents’ too. When we go to church now, my partner, son, and I go to the First Congregational United Church of Christ. It’s an open and affirming church that allows us to be complete and full members without judgment. And yet, at times it hasn’t felt like “real” church to us—because at the end of the day, I still can’t shake the feeling that a church that accepts gay people into it, isn’t much of a church at all. This confession says volumes about me, my self-loathing, and the ongoing evolution of my faith.

Regardless of what others think or say, I am a gay Christian. I want to live in a world where we bring others closer to God instead of driving them farther away. And finally, I ask that the world allow me to be what I am, a gay Christian, and let God be the final judge.