Growing up, I never thought I would question my sexuality or my beliefs. But then one thing (questioning my sexuality) lead to another (questioning my beliefs) and now I’m left in limbo, mentally torn between the two and uncertain of how to reconcile my situation.
As painful and overwhelming as it feels to rethink everything I ever believed about myself and how the world works, I’m not angry. If I had never experienced my own queerness or tried to understand it, I would still believe that being gay is inherently wrong. My deeply-ingrained beliefs would still buy into the idea that being gay is “just not natural,” without taking so much as a second to reexamine the prepackaged rhetoric I’d been carrying around my whole life, and draw conclusions from my own experience.
Most alarming, though, is that I would still believe that I could love and accept my LGBTQ+ friends, while secretly condemning them for their actions in my mind. And I would wonder why they distanced themselves from me, or told me that I hurt them with my version of "meet-you-halfway" support.
Sure, I might cheer them on from afar, but once we inched too close to the reality of me fully accepting them for their experiences, their “lifestyle,” and for expressing themselves honestly, I would back away. Although it truly sucks to have your world turned upside down, it also forces you to think hard about what right side up means in the first place.
A little about my background: I was raised as a Mass-on-Christmas, Cafeteria Catholic in a small town in Pennsylvania that is predominantly Protestant. Although Christians were certainly no minority where I grew up, my particular flavor was rare. I was constantly having to defend and explain my beliefs, and, despite being seen as weird and different to my non-Catholic friends, I firmly stood my ground. Even though my beliefs were something I’d been handed at birth, without any choice of my own, I still felt like an independent thinker for believing in something that was outside the Protestant box of my hometown.