I was at my college's queer/faith group today and felt kind of bad because I said something like, "I'm not from a religious background and I came to God through being queer so it's really weird for me when people see gay + Christian and imagine that I have some sort of conflict or that this has caused trauma for me." (Or even imagine that I realized those things in the opposite order from when I actually did.)
This seems really privileged as if I think that the reason people see gay + Christian and associate that with a really terrible set of experiences is just some anti-religion bias. I mean, the people who've said this to me are atheists so I do feel a little bit like they're stereotyping Christianity and religion in general and failing to understand that at its core there's nothing that would inherently be my enemy as a queer person. And I kind of like expressing how much that isn't my experience because my type of experience is so rarely expressed.
At the same time, it's a very rare experience. I grew up with liberal atheist parents and I go to a college that is primarily liberal atheist--that is a tremendous privilege for a gay person. So for me to be like, "Yeah, God and I are buddies, why wouldn't we be?" is kind of a dick move. It's actually kind of like the way I feel about queer people who have overcome certain things, that I can't overcome as easily due to being disabled, and act like all queer people can overcome those things.
I know a lot of people's experience is one of religion being forced on them. But mine is one of being expected not to be religious and even feeling uncomfortable as a religious person in the spaces I tend to be in, and once having someone compare the fact that I believe in God to unusual stuff I do that's related to my disability. Which is really not cool.
This also applies to disability. My disability has been (cognitively and emotionally) a huge barrier to my ability to participate in things like church--largely because church is unfamiliar. So I'm very jealous of my liberal atheist and otherwise non-Christian* friends who had a sort of upbringing where they were brought to church, confirmed, etc., and the fact that they went away from that wasn't such a big deal to their families but it was just kind of how they did things as they were growing up. Because that structure would have been really important and my life would be totally different if I'd had it. I'm really lucky that my dad is as supportive as he is or I would never have (finally) been baptized and would have even less experience going to church than I do.
*(not that atheist=non-Christian but I'm thinking of people who are agnostic or "spiritual but not religious"--not people who have converted to another religion or heavily identify as anything.)
When I was a kid I had a babysitter who was Catholic and would pray with me when she put me to bed, against my parents' wishes. I'm extremely grateful for this because it gave me familiarity with prayer and the knowledge that it was an option. I still pray the way she taught me, every night. But I know what most atheists, and even many Christians, would think of her decision. And I don't know how to reconcile that with my gratitude.
I'm looking for a job next year and I'm interested in a particular facility for kids and teenagers with disabilities, which is Christian. It would be really wonderful for me to work in an environment that's Christian and I do relate being staff to being Christian (I don't mean this the way it probably sounds, but it's a huge other thing to talk about--it has nothing to do with me being better than the people I serve). But I feel creeped out also because, while they write on their website that the people they serve have a choice about being Christian or going to church, religious education, etc., they use the word "encourage."
In my experience, some people with disabilities have been taught to be compliant to the extent that if you "encourage" them to do something, or even ask them if they want to do something, they perceive it as an order.
I mean, I also have known people--and actually, this doesn't just mean more severely disabled people who I've been staff for, this also includes me, and maybe this includes me more than anything in terms of religion--who have a very hard time saying they want to do something, asking to do something, even saying "yes." My camper Stephen from this summer would say no to everything, including things he had previously shown he liked; after bringing up the subject again and again, you might be able to find out whether he really didn't want to. Sometimes this didn't work and you had to put him in a position where he had to make an effort to opt out, instead of to opt in--this was generally how you found out for sure what he really wanted.
I'm not saying this in terms of the facility, because that word encourage really does bother me and I'm not applying there until I can figure out what it means. But when it comes to religion, I am a great deal like Stephen. Which is very confusing for me and which, I'm afraid, often results in me saying things that ignore the very nonconsensual and/or negative history that a lot of people from my communities have with religion.