I clicked the link to an article a couple of days ago about a woman who had her church membership revoked for being in a four year long same sex relationship. The name of the church was familiar then I realized it was that Calvary Baptist Church. I passed it every day when I worked and I still pass it on a regular basis. It’s within walking distance of my home.
The church itself is huge. The main building looms at the corner of Rossland and Ritson and it has a big enough membership to afford a huge animated billboard (that runs 24/7) and the church across the street.
Every time I’ve gone past that church, I’ve felt a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, a knowledge that I would not be accepted there as myself. I’m an atheist, asexual, and interested romantically in all genders. I’m also pro trans rights and have a son who’s transgender (even if he’s not interested in transitioning at the moment). And now I’ve had it verified that I would not be accepted at all.
It’s easy to pass the church and know I wouldn’t be accepted. It’s not a church I’d want to attend anyway. The hard part is how big that church is. How many people attend there? I’d guess at least a hundred. My neighbours? The cashier at the grocery store? The elderly couple who smiled and said hi as we passed each other outside? If I do manage to find someone to date, what would their reactions be? I feel safe walking around my neighbourhood now. Would I still feel safe if I held hands with a girlfriend?
Calvary is the church that came under media attention but there’s another church, the Embassy, to the west of us. It is even bigger than Calvary, a gargantuan church that requires police assistance to guide cars out of their parking lot after service. There are that many people. I’ve never attended there but I’ve seen some of their flyers and listened to people on the bus. It’s also evangelical. How many of my neighbours attend there? How many sermons have they heard that were against the LGBTQIA community? I feel pinned between the two churches, hemmed in by hatred.
I feel badly for the woman who received the letter. She’d been a member for years and volunteered to help with the children there. She considered it her spiritual home even though they had preached against the LGBTQIA community before. I’ve dropped some pretty blatant hints but have never actually come out, in person, and told friends or family that my romantic interests are not solely for men. I’ve been too worried. She came out to her church friends and got thoroughly rebuffed. I can only imagine how hard that must have been for her. And still she went back right until they told her she was no longer welcome.
I wish her all the best in her search for a welcoming congregation, the United Church and UU church both have that distinction. And I will continue to be friendly with the people I meet and continue wondering if they’d accept me if they knew who I’m interested in.