Weeks 6 and 7: Discover the Secret That Will Transform Your Life
“Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.”
(1 Peter 2:2)
I was still in the pre-encounter weeks of Life Class in this Christian church when I discovered I was bisexual. And when it happened, it wasn’t a surprise to me. Some of the things that happened in the past suddenly made a lot more sense when I realized that I was also attracted to girls.
In 8th grade, I had a friend named Jen. She wore black rectangular glasses, had mid-length hair that went a little below her shoulder, morena or tanned, and she had a mole on the left side of the bridge of her nose. She looks chinita when she’s not wearing her glasses, but when she does, they make her eyes look a little bigger, and she looks really cool and smart.
I was fond of her and wanted to get close to her. I felt happy when she invited me to come to her house. I watched the anime that she likes, begged my mom to buy me eyeglasses because she also wore them, and I even tried to get close to her barkada or her friend group. I wanted to make a good impression on her friends, something I never really felt the need to do with other people I wanted to be friends with. There were also times that I felt an unreasonable annoyance that I couldn’t explain or understand whenever I saw her going home or hanging out with other girls. I think I might have had a crush on her then because I remember asking myself if I liked her, but I can also recall telling myself, “There’s no way I’m a lesbian” because I was still attracted to men. So, I convinced myself that what I felt was simple and pure fondness. I didn’t know anything about bisexuality back then.
I knew that I was not going to tell this to my spiritual mother, and Rica agreed with me. Again, cell groups ideally work like a family, so it is encouraged for a disciple to introduce the person that they are dating to their spiritual leader. Rica didn’t have any problem with sexual preferences; she was actually supportive. Our visits to church also became more frequent as she had a lot of problems at home and in her love life, and I was also too busy with school and extracurricular activities.
Despite the disappointing homily I experienced with the pastor that Rica had told me about, I still wanted to go to church, and I still wanted to give it a try. And so, I attended the Sunday morning mass.
“We have three testimonies, three people transformed through Christ, amen!” the pastor said, and the crowd replied with a cheer, “Amen!”
When the third clip rolled, the screen showed a person wearing a black t-shirt sitting with the back facing the camera. I watched as the camera moved toward the front of a person showing a girl about my age.
Everyone in the room was silent, and all our focus was on the clip. The person introduced her name, and at the end of her introduction, she said, “And I was transformed through Christ.”
The next parts were interviews with her. She was talking about how she had a relationship with a girl. I remember her using the phrase, “niabot ko sa point,” like it was a negative thing. She called her old self a lesbian, saying, “Tomboy ko sa una.” And then she proceeded to say that because of the bible, and when she started coming to church, she realized that what she was doing was wrong. At the end of the video, she opened the church doors wearing a white dress.
They made her wear a white dress.
“Wow! Isa na pod ka tao ang nabago ni Kristo! Amen!” the speaker happily announced that another person had been changed through Christ, and the audience replied with an amen.
“Naa ba siya diri?” the speaker asked if the person in the video was present.
I searched around the room, and in the right corner of the church, just a few rows in front of me, people started to point their fingers.
A girl wearing a simple white shirt and denim pants stood. The people around her started tapping her back and her shoulders as if saying that she had done a good job. Everyone cheered and kept on saying, “Amen,” like the pastor. She still had her boy-cut hair, and from my point of view, I could see that she was smiling but slightly bending down like she was embarrassed by all the attention and slightly nodding at all the people that were looking, smiling, and cheering for her.
She was young like me. With how the church works in expanding its numbers through invites, I just had the feeling that she was a newcomer. Also, the people beside her were teenagers like us, probably her friends. So it must be that she was an invitee and not someone like Rica, whose whole family goes to the church.
And then the pastor talked again, saying praises to the girl and to how great the Lord is. But one word that struck me the most was that the girl had been “cured by Christ.”
I was stuck in my seat. I didn’t know what to feel about everything I saw and heard from the screen and the people around us. I didn’t want to make assumptions that the girl was not being herself and was merely manipulated by the church. But I knew it wasn’t okay. I, someone who was also romantically and sexually attracted to girls, just watched a video about a lesbian being converted into a straight girl in a room where everyone was cheering about it. I just listened to everyone glorifying how she had been cured.
But there was nothing to cure about her. She was totally fine. I am fine.
That’s when I made up my mind that I would never be welcomed there. I will never be able to be my true self, and if I am not, I will not be able to express my faith and love in God freely.
And that was the last time I went to Buhangin Community Church.
Weeks 8 and 9: A New Beginning
And Ruth says to Naomi, “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
(Ruth 1: 16-17)
When I was in 1st year college, I met Yel. We were close when we were in senior high, and she was also the first person I told when I realized I liked girls. Yel is also bisexual, and she came out around the same time as I did. It has been almost a year since I last saw her.
As we sat down and waited for our order, she immediately perked up as if she had just remembered something important.
“I told my mom about you, but I didn’t say your name. I just said that I have a female friend who’s also dating a girl.”
“Girl, she wasn’t pleased and told me, ‘I hope you’re not doing that.’”
I kind of understood her mother’s reaction because when she came out, her mother told her that she might have been just confused.
“I told her that she knew I’m gay, and she told me that it’s okay to be gay as long as I’m not acting out on it like dating the same sex,” she continued, her face and tone showing her annoyance.
I chuckled because that answer wasn’t surprising.
“Kaya nga gay, di ba, because we like the same sex. Ambot ni mama, oy,” she said, looking defeated.
It made me think about the lesbian who made a testimony. I wondered if she was still going to that church. And I wondered if she really did change. I hope she’s in a better and safer place now, wherever that may be.
As for me, I don’t think I ever will go back to church hopping or even enter church except for weddings, burials, baptisms, or when my whole family forces me to.
I have stopped church-hopping and trying to find a ministry where I’ll be able to fit in because I have learned that I don’t have to, and most of the churches I tried to get into made it very clear to me that they see homosexuality as a sin.
I thought that if I stopped attending, the only times I would hear or see people’s homophobia would be from my extended family, the news, or social media–but that was me being too much of an optimist. Because just this year, as I and my girlfriend Lally were walking along Roxas Avenue, we saw a woman with a megaphone yelling bible verses and preaching on the street, saying, “Panghinulsol namo sa inyong mga sala,” repent for your sins. She was the same woman that I and a college classmate once saw on our way to a bar.
I remember her telling me that the woman was homophobic.
And so, as I and my girlfriend went past her at the corner along the pedestrian lane just in front of Ateneo de Davao University, I told my girlfriend what I heard from my classmate.
“Should we lock our hands and kiss to see if it’s true?” she asked as she laughed. I knew she meant it as a joke, but I did take her hand and held it as we crossed the street. We giggled as we walked, and we were almost at the entrance of the City Triangle, a distance from the woman, when she kissed my hand out of habit. We could still hear the woman preaching, but we had forgotten about the whole kiss thing because we started talking about something else. And then suddenly, we heard the woman’s voice getting louder behind us.
“Ang mga tomboy, bayot, pangundang namo ug panghinulsol! Kamo mga hugaw sa kalibutan!” she yelled at her megaphone, obviously making her voice even louder, maybe for us to hear. She must have seen what my girlfriend did, or maybe she saw another queer couple on the street that made her say that we are the filth of the world and must repent.
I turned my head towards my girlfriend, and she did the same, and we burst out laughing.