I’ve written an angry version of this article, months ago. I’ve thought a lot about this ongoing conversation I’ve involved myself in between my queerness and my religion. I’ve been angry, I’ve been jubilant with justice, I’ve been anxious. I’ve engaged with so many made-up bigoted people in my head that I’m worn out.
There is a place for anger. There is a place for hurt. I’ve found my footing in those, but I think it’s time I let myself experience and express the love I have for this space.
I began the search for a good seminary with nothing but the gut feeling that I’d end up there – at a seminary.
Four years ago, I tossed aside any hope for intellect with religion. It wasn’t in my churches. It wasn’t at my Christian school. It wasn’t anywhere I felt free to be and explore myself.
I’ve always felt disfigured, in one form or fashion. First, it was the scoliosis, then it was the anxiety and paranoia. Then, it was the queerness – what Jewell’s environment didn’t mind was a wrecking ball for almost every other aspect of my life.
I learned I was disfigured personally as well as physically. Something gross. A queer. A disappointment. A hard, chalky pill to swallow. Someone who needed to tone themselves down, make sure they were tolerable for others.
I know there has been some healing for me with religion, in the background of my growth these past few years. I know this will likely continue, just as I’m sure there are more scars I’ll collect.
But what surprised me about that moment, a year and a half ago, was that I was near-certain, almost immediately. There wasn’t doubt. I’d find a seminary, and I’d go there. That was it.
I didn’t tell anyone, save a few friends. It felt like a precious new part of my life, a secret thing growing inside me. I knew where I wanted to go after I graduated, and I knew that I would be undertaking a daunting personal task: wrestling with a text that I consider just a text. Fixating on ideas and concepts of a deity. Solving, even if only for myself, what it means to believe in a God, how I can best respect the earth I share with others, and how I can best fight bigotry – especially bigotry the Christian Church itself enacts and encourages.
Every moment since I knew I’d go to seminary has held a quiet, beautiful anticipation. At first, I was so giddy, drunk on the delight and anticipation that I worried I’d lose my ability to be mindful of the present.
The joy slept, dormant, waking every few weeks to leave me randomly ecstatic.
So much of this experience has been joyful. The first seminary I researched happened to be the one I visited, applied to, got accepted into and am attending in the fall.
I had no idea how to break this to my family, during the months that led up to my subsequent seminary visit.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m prone to extremes, and leaving my Christian high school left no doubt in their minds that I’d never trust a religious institution with my personal or intellectual growth.
I didn’t know how to tell them that I just knew. That there was a logic to it, but what attracted me more than the logic was the gut feeling. There has never been a deep doubt in my mind about this decision.
Everything about the process of applying, interviewing, visiting and waiting calmed me.
I’m going to continue celebrating my personal healing and the next portion of my life.
I hope that everyone can find healing, whether that does or does not involve any religion for you. I hope that, above all else, all of my fellow students find a future for themselves that gives them hope and happiness.