Queer Christian Grief
By Laura Jean Truman
I sat and cried at the East Atlanta rainbow stairway today.
It had been a rushed kind of day. The latest Desiring God article RE: “The Harvest in the Gay Community” (y’all, we are not parts that you harvest like aliens coming for our kidneys) put me in a grumpy, anxious mood. And I was just a little bit behind, a little bit late, and a little bit rushed when I took the shortcut down the side street and ended up at the rainbow stairs off Memorial Drive.
It’s a little brand-new staircase, chirping #PrideMonth and winding its way up from yellow to pink to blue, brilliant against the surrounding grey cement. It was so joyful.
I pulled over and cried.
It was a full gasping torrent from my gut that I had no idea was waiting for me. I got out of the car and sat on the yellow bottom step and touched the chipping paint, and cried from my stomach on the rainbow stairs by the cemetery.
It hit me, all over my body, that there is a well of queer Christian grief that is always full, always there behind the Church’s crisp white walls.
On the rainbow steps, I cried for all my Christian LGBTQ friends who were hurt so deeply that they will never go to church again.
I cried for all my gay friends who still talk about Jesus wistfully, like a high school sweetheart that they will never see again.
I cried for lesbians who showed up eagerly to Bible studies, who endured whispers, side-eyes, and finally, a coffee date with the leader to talk about their “lifestyle.”
I cried for gay kids who thought that they were loved unconditionally by their Christian friends, but discovered that they are youth group projects, targeted for “preaching the Gospel”—a gospel of Straightness.
I cried for the trans women who have been called abominations.
I cried for the bisexual men who have been called whores.
I cried for LGBTQ people who didn’t grow up in the Church and discovered Jesus like spring after a long winter—who then spent months of frustration on church websites, hunting for policy clarity, then weeks on the phone with pastors. And who, after months of driving for hours every Sunday to the nearest affirming church five towns over, wearily gave up.
I cried for every queer boy who has wept behind their steering wheel after leaving a lunch conversation with someone he used to think was safe.
I cried for all the trans college kids who out of deep love for Jesus faithfully showed up to Christian therapy and their accountability partner because they believed that they could root out this sin like they rooted out gossip, greed, envy, and selfishness. I cried because they can’t fix what isn’t broken, and I cried because in trying, they are breaking their own soul.
I cried for every closeted gay pastor who is trying to shame himself into being sexually attracted to his wife.
I cried for every gay worship leader who is so scared that Jesus is as disgusted by him as he is.
I cried for the beautiful, profound, wise, queer women who took their beauty out into the world after the Church discarded them, who are now thriving, bent but not broken—leaving a Church that is broken without them.
I cried for the Church. Because every day that she keeps this community out, she loses a piece of her soul.