I didn’t know there was a lesbian couple right in front of me keeping watch. The head of Christian Ed was a woman that had lived with the first head of Christian Ed, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Mears. Henrietta Mears lived with Ethel Mae Baldwin until her death and then Ethel Mae took over and no one ever thought that they might be in a relationship but after Henrietta died, Ethel May moved in with Adrienne. Ethel Mae was evidently keeping watch over me and I think she knew pretty early on about me. She is the one that encouraged me to start camp counselling at Forest Home, the camp church had founded.
Year after year I did it, starting in 9th grade and until I started working full time at the YWCA camp. She always gave me the kids that were going to be a challenge in some way and one time I asked her why and she told me that because I had been the kid that was a challenge she knew I could handle them with love and I did. It wasn’t until I came out many years later and she was gone I realized just how close an eye she was keeping on me considering how big the Sunday School had grown but she did know my mom and dad.
The first year I came home from working at the YW camp I had changed. I had created different person to be. I was more out going, I knew what I liked and didn’t like and I had learned to stand up for myself. I wasn’t as shy and retreating. So I came back with the first inklings that I really, really didn’t fit. The only place I felt safe and where I felt holy and sacred was outside and church was feeling like a prison. And I was oblivious to men. When the married choir director hit on me someone else had to tell me and since he had known me since I was little and mom worked for him it was more than a little creepy. So I ignored it.
Working at a Girl Scout camp after 2 years at the YW camp, I was beginning to be sure I liked women but I would be in the closet for 4 more years. I went to women’s music concerts with my friends but until I fell hard in love couldn’t take the step. Meanwhile my parents were freaking out that Cam was gay and I was still invisible. Although mom did ask one of the ministers about lesbians and he told her there was no such thing. Right, his daughter was a dyke. At that point every single minister had a kid that was exploring gay behaviour in some way. All but one came out and stayed out.
But I was really struggling because church was making it clear gay people were evil even though I knew several men were in choir, I was the lone lesbian. I literally lay awake many nights knowing that if the people I had known all my life knew my heart some of them would hate me. I lived in fear that people would know by looking at me and it appeared some did when my brother finally asked if I was because the gay men in choir had been discussing me. This was not helped by a male friend in choir was making shy overtures to date me and I was trying to figure out ways to avoid it. I had no desire to hurt his feelings but the quiet ones always seemed to think I was date material. I prayed so hard to be straight, guess what? the Gods and Goddesses don’t care if you’re gay.
But I kind of wanted to be caught because I cut my hair off very short and only wore t shirts, jeans, boots and flannel shirts. But finally the fear and the stress got too much and I walked away from my church home. And the minute people found out why, my parents lost friends.Some people who had known me since birth decided Cam and I were evil and that my parents had raised us wrong. Church friends gave my mom books on how to straighten us out.
Mom tried to trick me into going to the church psychs by driving her to her alleged appt and she wanted me to go in with her and I told her I had a good book and I refused to get out of the car. So she went in and came back out again and we went home. Mom being a severe narcissist did not take my coming out well at all because it reflected back on her.
I did not see any of those people again for over 15 years at my dad’s funeral where my mom had the minister give an altar call because of me and the pagan friends that came to support me. I was so furious and none of them came to my brother’s funeral, they did come to mom’s and barely spoke to me.
So I lost the place where I did a lot of growing up, where I thought people loved me and found out I was mostly only loved if I didn’t step out of line. They should have known something was up when I was 9. The first time I went to church camp in the third grade we had to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up and they sealed it in an envelope. When we closed up my parent’s house when dad died, I found it in mom’s dresser. I had written in crayon, “I want to be a minister”. When I had said it at camp it was one of the few times in my life I was told that girls couldn’t do something.
Joke was on them. I’m a priestess of the Goddess and an Arch Druidess and I’m a dyke.
Note: the church I grew up has now voted to be part of the retrograde Presbyterians that want nothing to do with gays. You would think as many of us that grew up there would have changed a few minds but I guess not