Easter morning stands out in my mind from all the collected memories of my childhood. My parents would take my five siblings and me to church. In a sense of quiet reverie, we would listen to the grief of Jesus’s rejection by mankind, and how his ultimate love overcame it all when He rose from the dead. As I sat in that hard pew, fully embracing the love I felt from the story of Jesus’s resurrection, I dedicated my heart to always being full of love and acceptance like Him.

This dedication in my heart has been the reason I am able to overcome a destructive belief that LGBTQ-identifying individuals are somehow “sinners” — from certain Christian perspectives — and the reason I have been able to accept myself as an individual attracted to the same sex. Ironic, isn’t it? That faith and love can overcome religion? I can continue in this dedication of love only because I have first received love for who I was. I accept myself and others because I have been accepted by this love. This is my Christianity. Some call it Christianity with a little “c”, some call it spirituality and some call me religious. However, for me, it is Love. It is what I want to receive and what I want to give away.

I didn’t fully understand what love meant until I felt hate, and I didn’t fully understand acceptance until I felt rejection. I knew I was gay since I was 17 years old. It took me four years to accept this part of who I am. Though my religion told me I was sinning to accept my identity, it ironically supported me and helped me accept myself. This contradiction changed the way I thought about religion and Christianity specifically. The same heart that surrendered fully to this God I’ve come to know was the heart that knew it was falling in love with a girl. The same heart felt His love and acceptance.

The word “intersectionality” was used throughout the winter semester in my Women’s Studies class. I believe I didn’t fully understand the wisdom of the word ‘intersectional’ until recently. The day my mom told me, over the phone, she would not be attending my wedding, I felt I could identify — if only a little — with minority individuals battling the majority. It was only after that week that I understood intersectionality. An individual cannot be “partially” accepted. A Black woman cannot be accepted as a woman without being fully accepted for being Black. An LGBTQAI-identifying individual cannot be accepted as a white person without being accepted for their sexuality. Who we are is not divisible. All the books I read and the movies I ever watched about minority groups experiencing rejection seemed to float through my mind that week: the civil rights movement, women suffrage, the entire LGBTQ community — all brought to mind an understanding of the rejection of minorities simply because of one factor that was “not acceptable” about them, according to society. Some are the wrong color, some are the wrong gender and some love the wrong sex.

If I went to get a tattoo today, I would tattoo the words “fully known” from 1 Corinthian 13:12. It states: “For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known”. I find it incredible that God fully knows us, yet also chooses to fully love us. Love chooses to see beyond external characteristics, to not be afraid of individuals who are different, and to embrace the uncertain. Love does not fear. Without fear, I am free to be who I know myself to be. Because of love, and because of God, I am able to allow myself to be fully known without the fear of rejection. The love may come from those around us — or may not for now. However, by choosing to stand in the open, and live according to who I am, I believe it will give others the courage to do the same.

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