Shifting Focus

By Katie | Nov 28 2012 12:42AM

In the seven days since I last wrote for Heart Work, I spent four of those days back home for Thanksgiving break. It forced me to face the reality that in two and half weeks, I’ll be home for a month. This was the first time that I’ve been home for more than 48 hours since late August when I began sharing this journey with you. Even just looking at the past fourteen entries, you can see how much has happened.

The Katie from three months ago functions just fine at home. The Katie today doesn’t know how to anymore.

It used to be that all spheres of my life pretty much had the same level of openness. I was equally as open at home as I was when I was at school. But my life has shifted a lot since then, and I live day to day with a different level of openness now. There’s very little that I hide when I’m at school, and that’s just basic privacy boundaries. The problem is that my level of openness at home has not caught up to my level of openness at school. There’s an imbalance where they didn’t use to be, and it gets progressively more noticeable each time I go home.

I’m not out to my mom. She’s pretty much the only important person in my life that I’ve yet to tell. She knows about my life here, and is fully aware of my internship. She’s supportive of my involvement with Pride and the crossover with my faith. She just assumes I’m doing it as a straight ally. I’ve done as much as I can to try to place hints so that it won’t be a huge shock when I come out. Still, I’m in a place right now where I really can’t predict how the conversation will go.

I had planned to come out to her this weekend, but it didn’t happen. The timing didn’t feel right. But I can say definitively that I do not want to start spring semester without her knowing. I have to tell her over winter break because I can’t do this anymore. I’ve always had a close relationship with my mom, and I don’t like the feeling of not telling her things.

I hated the invisible weight that pressed against my chest when I referenced a “friend” of mine on a topic that related to our conversation, when really I was talking about the girl I dated for a month and a half. I hated that she still had no idea.

I enjoyed my holiday weekend. I really did. But I also know that I can’t live for a month with the feeling I had for those four days. The feeling of a small invisible string wrapping around my chest and slightly tugging until it constricts in a subtle yet constant cage.

It’s not unlike how my sexuality affected my faith. Sure, it was only one aspect of who I am. But the effort to suppress it affected all the other areas of my life and my relationship with God. My efforts to hide my sexuality are beginning to affect how I interact with my mom in general.

So even though I’m still at school, and there’s still a bit of the semester left, my focus is shifting. You’ll notice it very soon, because I’ll be blogging from home for a month. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the shift in environment, because I think it’s going to be harder than I might have assumed.

I had a conversation several days ago with another one of the interns. He asked me if I was planning to return to the internship for the spring semester. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn’t really imagine doing anything else. As much work as it is, and as much as it can be stressful sometimes, I’d miss it far too much if I left. And my work to establish a support network for LGBTQ Christians has only just begun. So I’ll be submitting my application next week for re-acceptance to the internship team.

Until then, I’ve got some interesting and very unpredictable weeks ahead. There’s only a few days left of normal classes, and then finals begin. Before I know it, I’ll be at home. I need to consistently remind myself of this, because I want to be ready.

I love going home, don’t get me wrong. I love my family and we get along well. But that doesn’t mean going home will be easy. I’m shifting focus, and doing so will likely be quite difficult if Thanksgiving break was any indication.

Heart Work

Hi, I’m Katie.

I grew up in the southwestern United States and am currently in my junior year at a university in the same part of the country.

My sexuality isn’t even something that crossed my mind until I got to college. I attended small schools for my entire childhood, and my high school was predominately a conservative Catholic culture. However, I still enjoyed high school. My graduating class was the anomaly grade, where only fifty percent of the kids were Catholic and we had a more equal distribution of political views. They gave me that initial confidence in myself, but my school as a whole gave me a hetero-normative mindset that carried with me to college.

I was raised Catholic during my childhood, and my family transitioned over to a non-denominational Christian church when I was in my early teens. That was really when I started to deal with my faith and my beliefs for the first time. I began identifying as a Christian during my sophomore year of high school.

So in freshman year of college, when I began to realize that I am also attracted to women, I had absolutely no idea how to handle it. I knew it was something that I hadn’t chosen, and I knew it was something that wouldn’t just disappear, but I had no idea what it meant for my life. I was a dedicated Christian who was now hyperaware of her bisexuality.

I spent most of my freshman year of college pretending that my bisexuality didn’t exist and clinging to my faith-based environment on campus. It wore me down mentally and I found that ignoring my sexuality was doing far more harm to my faith than good. Sophomore year began and I confronted my sexuality head on. I admitted to a few close friends that I am bisexual and began to get involved in LGBTQ events on campus. As a result, the exact opposite of my freshman year happened. I embraced my sexuality and pushed my faith into a corner. I constantly felt disconnected, even though I felt more comfortable with myself than ever.

Now I’m here at my junior year, and I’m starting to feel more at peace. This school year will be my learning experience about how to begin embracing both in my life. I will be heavily involved in an on-campus ministry, while also interning with the LGBTQ organization on campus. I’ll be acting as a sort of bridge between the two communities, trying to break down prejudices and also provide support for LGBTQ Christians.

This blog will be like a journal, a place to share things that I’ve learned and new things that I’m learning every day. If you’re looking for someone to breakdown the Bible and confront biblical principles, you’re in the wrong place. I’ll be addressing some of those things, but only through the context of my own struggles.

Christian faith and acceptance of sexuality are constantly set against each other in our culture, demanding that you choose one over the other.

I’ll be blogging about what my life is like now that I’ve chosen both.

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