Room for Consideration: A Story of Atheist Queerness

Growing up a white, middle class, Christian, cisgender, straight, healthy, athletic, average-looking, American female in a small town in Virginia basically guaranteed that life would be easy for me. I was well-esteemed in my circles in high school, graduated with an effortless 4.2 GPA, and naturally relocated to college where I would continue to easily exist in all my privilege.

They say about privilege that you don’t fully realize you have it until it is threatened or lost. This is why my loss of faith came as such a shock and shook my world more than it probably should have. Suddenly, I started identifying with words like “victim” and “minority,” and painfully, my conservative mind was dragged through liberal realities. I felt abused.

What threw me for an even more surreal loop was realizing that I had also been struggling with my sexuality. And this is where my title comes in: Room for Consideration. As I left faith, I felt like there was no room for me to consider alternate beliefs. I was expected to have one belief and all other considerations only twisted me into vicious cycles of self-loathing. Likewise, I’ve been having to keep this struggle with my sexuality inside ever since realizing that I fell in love with a girl while I fell out of love with my spirituality. It’s not publicly acceptable, and even though I accepted my atheism and shouted it from the rooftops, I was absolutely terrified to even consider that I might not be straight, let alone that I might be very gay.

I don’t want to pull everyone through my entire queer narrative, so I’ll keep this brief. I had one serious boyfriend in high school, and I can’t think of any other guy I’ve been seriously interested in since that time. I had my first crush on a girl when I was 15, but I had no clue that what I had was a crush. I didn’t have the framework for understanding that I could even be attracted to girls in that way. By the time I got to college, I only had crushes on women and never on men. Again, I had no framework for understanding my attractions. At this point, I just assumed that I was straight. I mean, I had a boyfriend in high school, and I knew I’d eventually find “the one” and that would be all it’d take. But by the time senior year rolled around and my faith was almost to its breaking point, I fell so hard for a girl that it was impossible at this point to remain oblivious to my attractions. It was more than a crush, and it scared me so much that I was able to remain in denial about it for quite a while longer.

Once I had deconverted and decided to confront this weirdness going on with my sexuality, I still didn’t want to be disingenuous to the queer community. I didn’t want to be yet another person “trying it out” – some promiscuous “bisexual” girl who winds up with a man and a generally privileged life, setting the whole movement for gay acceptance back another notch. I thought maybe I could sit on the outside looking in for a while. I could just exist without sexuality. I’m not attracted to men, but maybe I don’t need relationships. Maybe I’ll just keep my life uncomplicated and derive joy from my singleness.

Until I arrived at where I am now, which is that this stuff I’m going through is mine, and it is very real for me. Whether or not it is socially acceptable, I’m going to make room for consideration so that I can sort this shit out. I hate that this process offends people or makes people think that I’m flaky or fake. I’m an extrovert who suffers when I keep myself stored inside. So here’s one step out. I am an atheist. I’ve loved a woman, and I hope to love more.

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5 Comments on “Room for Consideration: A Story of Atheist Queerness”

  1. heidi says:

    I know exactly what you mean about there being no framework for same sex attraction in that world.

    National Coming Out Day was not long ago, and all day I just kept thinking “I’d come out if I knew I wasn’t a poser.”

    • Kate says:

      It is so good to hear that someone else understands there being no framework. I think that is the most deceptive/confusing part of the whole thing. “Gay” wasn’t an option. It was always “the other.” So of course if you showed any sign of being interested in guys, it was the default assumption that you were straight.

      On National Coming Out Day, I thought something similar, but I also wonder what my underlying reservations were.

  2. graceone says:

    Kudos to you for being open, and wanting to sort it all out. That takes courage. To me living authentically means taking some risks, not easy. It does seem to me well worth it in the long term.

    You might enjoy and find interesting/supportive these two sites. One is called “Telling Secrets,” and is authored by Mother Elizabeth Kaeton, Elizabeth is an Episcopal priest. She is a feminist and also gay with a partner of many years. Together they have adopted and parented a flock of kids, some with special needs.

    Telling Secrets
    telling-secrets.blogspot.com/

    Also, Inclusive Orthodoxy: Inclusive Orthodoxy
    http://www.truthsetsfree.net

  3. gnatseyeview says:

    Yours is a courageous journey. I’m glad you are an extrovert, or else you may not have written your story, and I would have missed out on sharing in your joy. Thank you.


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