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I Have Hope: Entering into Conversation


I Have Hope: Entering into Conversation

Cheryl Folland

by Cheryl Folland

Just over a year ago, I came out as bisexual to those who know and love me. But for the sake of Christian connection, I put myself back in the closet in order to avoid hard conversations, criticism, isolation and the potential loss of relationship. It hurt. I started to lose myself. I became judgmental, defensive, angry, and isolated. All the things I’d been afraid of.

Friends and family tried to reach out to me, to be close with me. They called, texted, and emailed regularly. I shut them out. I kept telling myself, “They won’t understand” because I knew they couldn’t accept me—at least not the real me. What I was forgetting is that many of these people already love and accept me. Always have. Always will. What’s more, many of them suspected I was struggling with something bigger than my anxiety.

I’ve been a part of The Gay Christian Network for almost three years now, and at GCN, I’ve found people on all sides of “The Great Debate” as they call it. There’s a spectrum from allies and parents of LGBTQ+ believers to married and committed same-gender couples. There are opposite-gender couples in mixed-orientation marriages, trying to make it work. There are celibate Christians who take a literal approach to scripture. And there are dating LGBTQ+ Christians.

Here’s what there isn’t: judgment. There’s no inquisition. No need to defend one’s existence or choices.

There is room to ask questions, to find answers, to work through this stuff with each other and with Jesus. There is love and support. It is community.

What does that leave me with? Hope. I have hope for reconciliation between the marginalized and the church at large. I have hope for me, that I have a place. I’m not a leper, and I don’t have to have it all figured out. I have hope for the kids who are holding back from relationship with Jesus because “Christians hate gays.”

For most of the last year, I’ve been silent because I didn’t want to argue. I don’t want to have to defend who I am. But now, I think I’m ready to talk. What about you?

Maybe we could talk about how to support people who are marginalized. Hurting people. People who need us.