As it’s Easter, it seems an opportune time to discuss Christianity…
Like many in this country, I was indoctrinated in the Christian faith. I didn’t have any say in it – I was Christened long before I could speak, sent to a Christian school not long after I could walk, and sent to Sunday School not long after that.
When I got to Secondary school, I was sent to a Roman Catholic school. They instilled in me the idea that I was a sinner and would need to repent to get to Heaven. School assemblies were regularly formed around asking for forgiveness from “The Lord”, for which we would need to say the required amount of “Hail Mary”s and “Our Father”s.
It wasn’t that I was trans or had homosexual feelings – such matters were never discussed at school. No, I was a sinner because mankind was sinful. So sinful, in fact, that “our saviour”, Christ, had been crucified on the cross for our sins.
My parents didn’t care about any of that. They weren’t religious – St Mary’s was simply the best school they could get me in. So they were surprised when my best subject at school turned out to be R.E.
“Are you going to be a priest?”, they teased. No, I just liked the lessons.
As I grew older, I stopped going to Sunday School, didn’t go to Church, and peer pressure made me see that religion was, in fact, silly. But I never had any real problem with it. Religion was just a phase I went through and I wasn’t really sure I ever believed anyway.
Then, in my mid to late teens, my sexual and gender identities began to develop. This regrettably coincided with Section 28, and the tabloids have never been slow in publishing the damning views of religious folk. It was only then that I began to grow a resentment towards religion.
Regardless of my resentment, these views clearly settled into my mind somewhere because many years later I had a panic attack outside a gay nightclub because I was sure I was going to hell.
“Come on, you’re not that religious!”, my friend exclaimed. I had to admit that I wasn’t and told myself to stop being silly. I was also doubly adamant that I was going to have nothing to do with religion.
So about a decade and a half rolled by until last August I turned up to Liverpool Pride expecting to march with some friends but the friends were nowhere to be seen. So then I bumped into the folk from St Brides, who I’d met before but certainly didn’t really count them amongst my friends. Having no better options, I marched with St Brides and, as I did so, I had what I am embarrassed to call a ‘religious experience’. Suddenly things made sense and it felt like my life had lead me to that moment – it was time to open the door and let Christ back in.
As I look back, I recognise that Christ has been with me my entire life but that I shut him out for a good part of it. The reason why I did this is because I came to fear what he’d bring with him. But I had no reason to do so. The opinion that I am damned because of my sexual and/or gender identities is just that – an opinion. It is not fact.
If anything about Christ is true, it’s that everyone has an opinion about him. These vary wildly but I can relate this to myself very easily. Everyone will have a different opinion about who I am and what I represent, dependent on their relationship with me. The same is true of Christ but, as the saying goes, “it takes two to tango”. When the only constant in these relationships is Christ, I believe opinions about him are a reflection of the opinion holder – not Christ.
The upshot of this is that I no longer wish to be influenced by other people’s opinions. So I take little heed of what it says in The Bible (a book of other people’s opinions), and I try to have as little as possible to do with the rituals of the Christian church (which were formed by other people’s opinions). Lessening these outside influences, I find I am much more able to form my own relationship with Christ that means something special to me.
So the message I want to share on this Good Friday is that it is entirely possible to be Christian and trans (or LGBTQI+). Furthermore, it’s infinitely better to meet Christ on your own terms than anybody else’s. This is your relationship to form.
Article written by Claire Hornby, 14th April 2017