**Sorry this is through fb but I don't have everyone's address and this is the quickest way to get in touch with everyone...**
Hey Friends/Family/Other people that I love
About one year ago, I posted an article on Facebook entitled"Getting Real about Ref 74."
(links to: http://welcometoagape.blogspot.com/2012/09/getting-real-about-ref-74.html)
It stated why I, as a bible believing, conservative-born,Eastern Washingtonian, practicing evangelical Christian, support marriage equality. This was not a casual overnight decision, but the product of years of prayer and personal struggle with God and the bible. At the end of it, I approached God, I believe, without an agenda beyond seeking His truth and loving people the way He calls me to. I was/am not looking to push a secular agenda upon the church. I stated, in fact, how important it is that the church remain separate from secular politics and maintain a standard based on biblical principles of love and holiness.
The feedback I received included applause, concern, and(sadly) public shaming. But I was generally encouraged by the support and love I received from the Christians in my life, even those who disagreed with me. It Makes me proud to be part of my Christian community.
What I did not include in that article was my personal journey from a by-the-book Christian to a very outspoken and very Christian LGBTQ ally.
Years ago, God placed a heavy burden on my heart for the entire LGBTQ community. The truths I had been taught about same-sex relationships got caught in my heart and curdled there. It wasn't right, didn't fit. I had never felt so strongly that I needed to challenge the prevailing views, because there was no way I could continue to believe same-sex relationships are a sin and still be a follower of Christ. I've never considered walking away from my faith before or since that moment. Honestly, it scared me; it tore a hole in my chest because, if you know me at all, you know that I deeply love my Jesus. It took years of prayer and reflection to get to a point where I could accept that I could love Jesus and still be true to what I believed in my heart.
My political, and faith views were very much informed by my own personal struggles with my sexuality. Let me be clear, I wrote that article as a gay ally, not a gay person. I'm not "gay," I don't identify that way. My sexual struggles are more complicated than that, or at least a different kind of complicated.
I always felt different, but not in a "gay" way,just...weird. I had only ever loved a man and never pursued a relationship with a girl although I found them understandably much more attractive. But, I mean,who doesn't? Women are lovely, lovely creatures! I didn't have a word for how I felt. I felt like a failure as a woman: oversexed and impure, for one thing, emotionally underdeveloped, arrogant, analytic and critical for another. Hardly the picture of the kind, loving, giving submissive woman that dominates Christian pedestals.
But even that was not the "real" problem, I know plenty of strong-minded, dominant Christian women who also break the mold, and yet I still felt different. Weird. Off-kilter with everyone else. Slowly, with the help of a wonderful Christian counselor, I was able to understand that being different, whatever that meant, was not only okay, but a good thing. I was shaped and molded by God to be my weird, off-kilter self.
Around the same time, I started to realize that same-sexattraction is not a " check the appropriate LGBTQ box" sort of thing.It is nebulous, varying, and largely undefinable, thus far. The spectrum for same-sex and other-sex attraction is very broad and I realized that was not at either end. I wasn't even smack in the middle. I was like a little electron buzzing along the scale at the speed of light (which is an appropriate description of me, if you think about it). I had told a few of my friends as we discussed this "issue" that I felt that I had the potential to fall in love with a man or a woman. It was an exciting time of self discovery. Still, I never felt the need to make some kind of declaration or label myself because it was not really relevant to my life. I was single. I wasn't in love. I'd never met a woman that I was compelled to bewith romantically which, to me, was the defining characteristic of attraction.At that point, It was all theoretical to me.
Then one day all of my fearlessness and conviction melted into a hot soup of distress and confusion in the center of my gut. Because I met someone. An awesome girl with a beautiful, fascinating soul who made me feel things I hadn't felt in almost a decade. All my convictions turned gray and muddy when I turned them in upon myself. The fear, self-doubt and insecurity I had banished years before came back with even greater strength then before.These, coupled with my normal (for me) emotional turmoil that comes with having feelings for someone, turned me into an emotional wreck.
It was a horrible time, I was sick and scared. I lost weight. I stopped talking to my friends and family, confusing and hurting them, which added more guilt to the swirling mess clogging up my heart. But slowly, with some amazing support from strangers, my loving and patient friends, and my amazing family, I found my feet again. I found a way to accept that what I was feeling was real and didn't (doesn't) change who I am.
And I found a friend.
A beautiful, fascinating soul who, miraculously, cares about me too. As difficult and painful as this journey has been, I'm a richer and stronger person because of her and everything she's taught me (and continues to teach me) about myself, about love and life and acceptance. It would be a lie to say that meeting and falling for her didn't have a huge impact on the course of my journey to understand myself, but it certainly didn't set my course. Caring for her, made it possible for me to know myself better. Or rather, impossible for me to ignore the truths about who I am. But she didn't make me this way,she just revealed another layer of who I am.
No doubt this is very confusing, surprising, or even upsetting. Trust me, I have been living it for some time, I know firsthand how confusing it is. Maybe it doesn't fit with the person you have always believed me to be, it might be hard to believe that "all of a sudden" I could"turn" gay. To be honest, this has always been a part of who I am and if you take the time to hear a few coming-out stories, I am sure you'll realize that there is no formula for this process, no standard definition of how or when someone realizes their sexual orientation. And I hope that, in time,you'll see just how much this does not change who I am.
You are probably asking yourself what exactly this means. If I'm not gay, then what am I? What is my label? Honestly, the best I can tell you is I am Sarah Elizabeth Brewer. Like most of us, I don't fit tidily into a pigeon hole and really I don't care to. A very smart redhead I know likes to say that labels are for soup cans. And, trust me, the people who actually DO fit into a particular label or category are in the minority. If it helps you process, I've latched onto the word "queer" ("Q" in the LGBTQ alphabet soup). I know there are some historical implications to the word, but it actually fits me very well. I'm just weird. Queer. And I really like it.
Why am I telling you this? The primary reason is I hate feeling like I'm hiding. I have been vaguely but intensely ashamed of myself for most of my life. This is the first timeI've felt proud of who I am, that God truly loves and accepts me, all the parts of me. He is proud of me, created me to be the person that I am. Of course I'm changing and growing (being renewed day by day) but I'm (finally) comfortable with me, including my "weird" or "queer"sexuality.
Another reason is I have a really amazing person part of my life now and I want everyone to know what she is to me, and what she's done for me. Even though this is about me and my personal journey independent of any love-interest, she still deserves that recognition for being an important part of my journey and my life. She's awesome, I hope you get a chance to meet her someday, I guarantee you'll love her.
Finally, I am writing you because I want you to know that I am taking ownership of my sexual identity(nebulous and undefined as it is) and my relationship with Christ. In the past,people have tried to strip me of both because I did not fit their definitions of a Christian person or a queer person. I have fought hard to maintain who I am and will continue to do so. No one has the right to take that from me. If you love me the way I believe that you do, I can guess that you might want to help me overcome this "problem." While I appreciate your heart and your concern for me and am happy to answer your questions, please know that Iam not open to that kind of help. I will take your prayers with gratitude, but I ask that you respect my autonomy as a thinking Christian person and refrain from trying to "re-save" me or listing the verses in the bible regarding homosexuality. I actually already know them and have spent quite a bit of time studying them. I do love a good theological debate, but this is such a personal and private subject that I'm not willing to debate it. Pray for me, trust my conviction to the Holy Spirit and I think we'll both be a lot better off.
Also, although this is private, it is not a secret. Don't feel like discussing it with friends/family/mentors is any kind of violation of my confidence. I trust you to keep my best interests in mind. If anyone asks you a question about me that you don't feel comfortable answering, feel free to send them my way.
Thank you for enduring this ginormous letter. And thank you for loving me enough to be someone I wanted to send it to! I am sorry this is not a face to face conversation, but I express myself much better through writing and it's just not possible to have this conversation with all of you. I am praying that your love helps you navigate this process and that I'm still as much a part of your life as always.
Sarah Elizabeth Brewer