I think I might be gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer, but I don’t know for sure. What do I do??
Don’t panic! Grab yourself some tea, or another calming drink, take a few breaths, and let’s talk. There are two really important things to remember as you’re exploring your identity. First—you are not alone, and there are thousands of other Christians in the world who have felt these feelings. The second thing to remember is that you are loved—that God is holding you close as you go through this process, and God’s not gonna let you go, no matter what.
It may be comforting to know that the answer to the question “what do I do?” is entirely up to you! Some people who start to question their sexuality or their gender identity seek out a trusted advisor who they can talk to about their feelings. That may be a pastor you know who’s affirming of LGBTQ+ folks, or it might mean a psychologist, or a close friend, or a family member. Sometimes it’s really helpful to get an outside view of things, and letting yourself just talk for a while can help sort out the thoughts that have been buzzing around inside.
Other people may not feel ready to talk about their feelings with someone else yet, and that’s totally okay too. Many people in this stage just want more information, which is where your local library and the Internet can come in pretty handy. Sites that include stories of other LGBTQ+ Christians, like the ones found on the Resource Page can help you get a sense of what other people have gone through, and what they’ve learned.
But isn’t there some kind of test I can take to find out if I’m REALLY LGBTQ+?
That sure would be a lot easier, huh? Quite a few queer folks over the years have asked that question, and many people have tried to create such a test. We’ve looked at behavior, brain chemistry, life experiences, hormone levels, and just about everything else, but there’s just no laboratory-style way of determining someone’s sexuality or gender identity. The truth is that no test is going to be able to read your mind and your heart. You’re the only one who knows for sure how you identify. Well, you and God, of course.
Does God already know how I feel?
Yep! Check out these verses from Psalm 139:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
One of the great things about coming out as a queer Christian is that you never have to come out to God. Sometimes we get scared, thinking about how friends and family members will react to the news if we tell them, but we never have to worry about God. God already knows, and God’s love for you hasn’t changed.
It can be a little scary to think about God knowing our inmost thoughts, especially when we’re not sure whether we want to admit to those thoughts ourselves, but at the end of the day, it’s good to know that we’re not alone when we finally find our voice and speak our truth.
Audrey White, Believe Out Loud,
“How Breaking Bread With Queer Christians Helped Me Rediscover Radical Love“
Ashley Birt, Believe Out Loud,
“After Years Of Hiding My Bisexuality, Here’s How I Finally Found Hope“
Austen Hartke, Transgender and Christian: Being Known
Matthias Roberts, “A Reminder“
How can I find other LGBTQ+ Christians to talk to about this stuff?
If it’s possible for you, a great way of coming in contact with other queer Christians is to find an affirming church. Different denominations have different catch phrases that signify that a community is supportive of LGBTQ+ people, like “welcoming” or “affirming” or “reconciling.” Believe Out Loud has a great map for finding a church near you, and Gay Church also has a search function.
Another great way of finding community is to find the nearest LGBTQ+ support group—chances are some of the folks there will be people of faith who also want to talk about their experiences. If you’re not sure you want to go to an LGBTQ+ group, you can always check out a PFLAG group meeting, which is for parents, family and friends of queer folk. Because people at PFLAG meetings are of many different orientations and identities, including straight and cisgender, you don’t have to worry about outing yourself by attending.
Am I too old or too young to be figuring this stuff out?
Nope! There’s no perfect age for coming to understand more about ourselves. We grow our whole lives, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and this is just another way of growing. Some queer folks say that they’ve felt different, or “known,” since they were small kids, but others figure it out in their twenties and thirties, in their fifties, and even in their eighties. There’s no one map that everyone has to follow—we all have different journeys.
I don’t think I like this feeling of uncertainty and in-between-ness. I feel anxious about my journey.
That’s totally normal. Even though coming to understand more about our gender identities and sexualities can be a really important and defining time in our lives, it can also feel stressful. It can feel a little bit like wandering in the wilderness—like we’re lost, and trying to come home to ourselves.
If that’s how you feel, you have a lot of good company in the Bible. The recently freed Israelites of Exodus are the most famous wanderers. They traveled from Egypt to Palestine over the course of forty years, and there were times when they were lost, both physically and spiritually. But throughout their wanderings, God was with them—first in the pillar of smoke by day and fire by night, and then in the presence of the Arc of the Covenant. God filled Moses with courage when he didn’t feel like he had the power to speak truth to Pharaoh. God rained down bread for the wanderers when they felt like they didn’t have the strength to go on. God led the people to a new home—a home flowing with milk and honey and the promise of freedom—and the Israelites were amazed. They had never imagined life could be so good.
No matter where your wilderness wandering takes you, God will be with you, too. Keep an eye out for those gifts of courage and strength in your prayers, and in your relationships with others. No matter what your final destination looks like, when you come home to yourself, God will be there.
Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama, “Gay Curious”
Everyday Feminism, “I Think I Might Be Trans“
Sarah Prager, “Every LGBTQ+ Person Should Read This” (2015)