For many of us, talking about sexuality can be difficult, but talking about this in the context of faith can be very challenging.
Lois is the Diocesan Project Support Worker for the Children Changing Places Project. She grew up in a fairly traditional Christian home and attended an Anglican church. She says that she “never really knew anything different. Church was ingrained into my psyche and it wasn’t until I was a bit older that I thought ‘what is this actually about; why am I here?’.
“I had that revelation when I was 15 or 16. I felt empowered by this love of God.” And around that time, one of Lois’s best friends came out as lesbian. For Lois this was just a normal thing. However, when her parents sat her down and said that this was ‘not alright’, this really challenged her.
“‘Please don’t tell me that my friend is wrong. This is not what the God I know would want.’” Even though there were no specific discussions around LGBT people in her church she says: “There was a subconscious narrative that LGBT was ‘other’, was not good and was sinful.”
While she was at university Lois experienced an unrelated but traumatic experience, one which forced her to look within herself and to try to understand what was going on. She realised that she had been suppressing a huge part of herself for years
“The moment that I accepted the fact that I was attracted to men and women, my whole world transformed. This whole wave of calmness came over me. But then I thought, ‘Oh God, you hate me now’ but then it was ‘No, absolutely not! God made me this way and I am loved.’”
Lois’s whole perspective on Christianity exploded. Now it was not just a set of rules, but a set of people, people with differences, different thoughts and feelings. “And God loves every single one of them.”
“If you don’t first love and embrace the person and try to understand what they are saying then this can have a really negative effect on their faith. For me it’s very important that I am here, that I am visible.”
Attending the interview for her job at Church House, she was told “’There are people of different faiths and different sexualities who work here and you would be very welcome.’ That really just lifted my heart to God!”