Hi, my name is Tilley and I am a Christian. I identify as a bisexual female, which you’ve heard a bit about from my mother. I’ve always thought I was a little different than my friends. I remember having my first crush on a girl in first grade, though I didn’t know that’s what it was until I got older. Over the years, I didn’t feel like I really fit in with my friends around me but I didn’t really pay much mind to that. Throughout my teens, I dated several boys, but never thought too much about girls.
Fast forward to about 17 years old. I met a girl that I thought had to be the cutest thing I’d ever seen. We worked together and I was absolutely smitten with her. It didn’t take long to realize that I had a super huge crush on her. Realistically, it never would’ve worked out between us, but flirting was fun. I didn’t have any reason to label myself at this point so I just kind of let it be when we went separate ways. A short time later, I started dating a friend of several years. She was cool and funny. Honestly, she might’ve been just kind of an experiment for me. I didn’t want to announce to the world that I was lesbian, bisexual, or anything until I knew for sure.
I went to my mom and tried for what felt like an eternity to muster up the courage to tell her how I felt. I knew my parents would love me unconditionally, regardless of my sexuality. My childhood included lots comments and teachings against homosexuality. The Bible preaches against it, right? My parents were doing the right thing by planting this in my head, right?
It didn’t work. Eventually, I realized that I was going to puke if I didn’t get those words out already so I just spit it out:
“Mom, I really like _____ and wanna go out with her. I just wanted to let you know about it.”
“I thought you liked boys?”
“I likes ’em both, mom.”
A couple more words were exchanged before I took off to my room to cry into my pillow for a while. My phone dinged with a text from my mom that read something along the lines of, “This doesn’t change anything. I still love you but this will take some time for me to get used to.”
Admittedly, my relationship with my parents was strained for a little while. My mom seemed to come to terms with it more quickly while my dad was struggling with it quite a bit. My parents often questioned how I justified my sexuality with my religion. Honestly, I don’t believe that involves anyone but Jesus and me. I don’t believe we get to pick and choose what we preach from the Bible. Don’t judge me for loving a woman when you’ve been divorced three times.
Unfortunately, after coming out to my family and friends, I felt tension at church. My friends stopped hanging out with me and I felt like I was being pushed away. People still smiled at me but would hardly come up and hug me or talk to me like they used to. Were they afraid to catch the gay? Were they afraid they would be less holy if they associated themselves with a bisexual? Who knows?
I felt betrayed by the people at church. They had supported several teenagers who had gotten pregnant. They help their brothers and sisters fight through nasty divorces. Some of them would be found sloppy drunk at the bar every Saturday night. Why am I the outcast? I’m not hurting anyone.
I came to terms with it when I convinced myself that I didn’t have to rely upon the church to have a relationship with Jesus. I didn’t need anybody pushing me along to participate in His unfailing love. I left that church and haven’t looked back.
My first relationship with that woman didn’t last long. Turns out, she was crazy and we wouldn’t have worked together. I’ve been with the love of my life for over two years now and she’s beyond awesome.
Several weeks ago, I received a message on Facebook from my old youth pastor. He invited my beautiful girlfriend and me back to the church I used to go to, a long time ago. I was more than thrilled to feel accepted in a church environment for the first time. They welcomed my girlfriend and me with open arms and I fully intend on going to church there every Sunday.
Back to my parents, they’ve come a long way. My mom is proud of the woman I have become. She affectionatly calls my girlfriend her daughter-in-law and treats her like part of the family. My siblings and nephews know that she’s just another member of the Brasfield Nation. My dad, who struggled with my sexuality the most has come around. He loves my girlfriend as one of his own and loves me just the same as he did before I came out, if not more. I’m more me, I’m happier, and I’d be lost without the acceptance of my parents. Family acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community plays a huge role in the child’s self-image, self-esteem, and ability to love and be loved by a partner.
As far as religion is concerned, if we are supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I believe that means we are responsible for sharing His unconditional love amongst everyone, not just the “holy.” Jesus loves me and everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, just the same as He loves you.
Note from the Editorial Team: Engaged Pentecostalism is a community that values open dialogue and respectful engagement from different perspectives. The views expressed above are the author's own and do not reflect those of every part of the community.