Letting the Light In

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen

I realized I was queer in a church. Which is incredibly on-brand for me.

Actually, what I realized was that I couldn’t hide anymore.

In my head, I’d been planning on quietly dating whoever I wanted and never telling anyone, and I’d changed the settings on my dating app accordingly. But standing and listening to the liturgy of the Table, something inside me cracked. I realized that I couldn’t come to the table to receive Christ’s body and blood as anyone other than myself- whole, complete.

When I was little, I had an illustrated children’s Bible. In the story of Jonah, it depicted Jonah trying to hide from God in the hold of the ship- but God finds him there, as the light that shines through the small porthole into the dark room. On that page, the Bible simply said, “But God found him there.”

One Sunday, the choir was singing my favorite hymn, and my new community was moving forward to receive the Eucharist. And I sat in a pew shaking, because God had found me there.

//

I’m bisexual. That’s the “B” in “LGBTQIA,” and it means that I’m attracted to both women and men. (There’s no percentage system here, like I’m 50% lesbian now- I am all bi, and always attracted to both men and women, all the time.)

I could tell you how I’ve always known this, deep down. I could tell you how hard I fought to pretend I was only attracted to men for twenty-one years, trying to fool myself more than anyone. I could tell you how the first time I said the words, “I think I’m bisexual,” I was drunk in my friend’s kitchen, scared to death because I was leaving on the World Race in a week, scared of who I was and what even saying those words meant. I could tell you about my gay friends whose nice, Christian families rejected them, and how terrified their stories made me of ever acknowledging my sexuality.

I could tell you how I came out to my roommate, and his face cracked into the widest smile, and I knew things would be okay.

I could tell you about the stacks of books and articles I read and hours of conversations I had in college, rethinking my theology, re-learning what it means to love LGBT people, going back and forth around Scripture and context and the original Greek and Hebrew.

I could tell you about the shame I carried for so long, convinced that there was a part of me that God would never quite love.

But in all of these things I could tell you, there was the light trying to get through.

//

I didn’t want to come out on the internet. On top of the fact that it’s super cliche, and literally anyone can read this post anytime, and it’s attached to my name forever- on top of all of this, my sexuality should be none of your business. Should be.

But existing as a queer woman is a political act. Like existing as a a woman, as a person of color, a trans person, a disabled person, is a political act. Our very lives are a threat to the powerful, and our freedom is bound up together.

So, as a queer, female Christian, I felt the need to publicly come out to my communities.

Most of my communities are in the South, the region Flannery O’Connor called “Christ-haunted”; and this Christ-haunted Southern spirituality is woven into who I am and how I understand Jesus and the Bible. Several of my communities are in the Methodist church, and the UMC is currently struggling with how to fully accept LGBT people- people like me. The people and churches who shaped me with their love, their presence, and their faith deserve to know me in the fullness of who God created me to be.

These communities always taught me the mission of the church is bound up with freedom for the downtrodden. Where there is brokenness and cries for healing, there is the Spirit.

And when our response to the cries of the LGBT community is rejection, or silence, we are complicit in their suffering.

Sharing our stories, living together in the wholeness, breaks open the darkness.

Hatred, fear, anything other than love and acceptance- it flees at the light that finds us in the darkness, even the darkness we make ourselves. And so I am trying to push the door open a little wider, let a little more light in, exist in spaces I have not been welcomed to.

//

I didn’t want to write this post, because this shouldn’t be anyone’s business.

But I needed to write this, because I cannot come to the table as anything other than who I am. And this is me- bisexual, feminist, left-handed, semi-Episcopalian, Gryffindor. Child of God. Loved, as I am.

Over and over, God has found me hiding, and claimed me yet again.

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7 thoughts on “Letting the Light In

  1. You are a brave girl, Carrie. Although it shouldn’t take bravery to be exactly who you are, which is awesome by the way! And you are right, who you date is none of my (or anyone’s) business as long as you are happy :o)

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  2. “To thine ownself be true.” William Shakespeare. I believe that it is absolutely essential to one’s mental, psychological, and physical health to recognize and embrace one’s authentic self. By doing that, as frightening as it may have been to do so publicly, you have also “let the light in” for other people who may not know they have anyone in their life who is different from them. We all deserve to be embraced and supported for our authentic selves, and the dialogue must continue if we are to break through ossified prejudices and perspectives. I believe we are all God’s creation, all made in the image of God, and that we mere mortals cannot understand or begin to comprehend the magnificence of that image. Hold your head high, honor yourself, and walk tall. Love is to be cherished regardless of our partner.

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  3. I realize this took so incredibly much to write and I wanted to say that you are so brave – and as always, your words have great power. I hope you are doing well up in Seattle. It’s always great to read your words.

    On Thu, Oct 27, 2016 at 12:04 PM, A Rebel Table wrote:

    > Carrie Surbaugh posted: ““There is a crack in everything. That’s how the > light gets in.” -Leonard Cohen I realized I was queer in a church. Which is > incredibly on-brand for me. Actually, what I realized was that I couldn’t > hide anymore. In my head, I’d been planning on quietly da” >

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  4. Carrie, I love you, for your honesty with yourself and the rest of us. God already knew. Yes, sexual life shouldn’t matter to anyone but you, but unfortunately something about people makes some of them want to pry. Tolerance is a gift that some are short of. Their problem. Thank you for Leonard Cohen. I once had a Siamese cat who howled when he heard one of his songs.

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