She describes herself as having been soul-raped.
Mary was raised in a Catholic home, but was tempted by the flashy-fun youth group at a neighborhood Charismatic church. She is a natural leader, and her involvement there grew until she was part of the inner circle, planning events and regularly meeting at the pastor’s home. She was comfortable in this world of Jesus Saves and We Love
Everyone. Too comfortable, perhaps. For she felt compelled to confess to her youth pastor that she was having feelings for another girl. His response was to tell her to view porn and allow the boy next door to feel her up.
I kid you not.
Mary ignored this brush with her lesbianism by dating the boy next door. She went on to attend a Baptist Bible College. Still, she could not suppress who she really was, and as time went on and she again became comfortable in her world, she allowed her feelings for another woman be known. This time the response by her church leaders was worse. They barred the door and tried to pray the demons out of her. She was enrolled in Exodus International. Her nightmare there was so horrific that I know little about it. Her reflections back describe it simply as soul-raping.
By the time I met Mary, she was removed from the Baptist College, but still held the credentials as a youth pastor. I was on the committee to hire her in this capacity, as Religious Education Director at the UU church. I loved her from the first seconds of her interview. Her head of crazy curls matched her personality. Her stint as a UU may not have been as disastrous as her time as a Baptist, but still it wasn’t good. Toting around a red leather careworn bible made her suspicious, and new ideas were not well received so her time there was short and painful. We lost touch for a year or so, but something-I don’t remember what now- caused our paths to cross again.
We are close, or as close as one can be with someone they hang out with electronically. We text, and chat on Facebook. She is sitting in the middle now, attending an “artist-friendly” Baptist church (publically affirming themselves as gay-friendly would incur wrath from the Baptist Powers That Be) and works at a UU day care. She is very active online, and has built cyber communities of people who have survived the Ex-Gay Movement. I see her struggle with her “spirituality.” She loves Jesus, but hates the fundies. She talks about something called qi. She calls herself Spiritual But Not Religious. She desperately wants to love god in spite of her experiences. And even more, she wants god to love her back.
I’m just going to sit here and do it for him.