Church Dread & Reclaiming My Faith

A formerly lapsed Catholic’s struggle with identity and religion

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Photo by twinsfisch on Unsplash

Why in the world should I think that an expression of love would be wrong?

I’d come out as bisexual just a few months before. I was involved in my school’s drama program, a common and beloved haven for young people coming to terms with their identities. I was fond of hopping friend groups, not attaching myself to any one group in particular, which meant I heard a lot of perspectives, understood a lot of voices, regardless of whether those voices agreed. I really didn’t date in high school, but plenty of my classmates did. I thought nothing of their casual affection, and I freely gave my own friendly, platonic affection all the time.

But every time I tried to go back, I remembered.

Before that evening at my youth group, I had been very active in my parishes. Army families have all kinds of ways of feeling at home no matter where military orders take them, and we had two major tactics: find the scouting troops and find a church. Boom. Easy. We suddenly had friends. We were part of the community. This also meant that the more we involved ourselves in those activities, the more at home we felt.

If I was going back to church at all, it was going to be a Catholic one.

It was slow. It was bits and pieces at first. I wandered around a bookstore and among the shelves of fantasy and mystery, someone had misplaced a book of Psalms. I cleared through an old box of knick knacks and there was an Our Lady of Guadalupe prayer card I’d gotten at one of the Christmas fairs. I walked through the neighborhood and saw a statue of Saint Francis I hadn’t noticed before, one that reminded me of my Dad’s.

I, in all of my queer harlot glory, belong there, too.

Well, this priest was eighty if he was a day and had the greatest resting bitch face I’d ever seen, but the moment he opened his mouth and called Jesus a “homeboy”, I started to relax. My church dread started to dissipate. My stress levels sank. I didn’t take Communion that day. I wasn’t there yet.

Writer, Runner, Baker, Mother. Over caffeinated with my nose in a book.

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