From one queer “Preacher’s Daughter” to another

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I don’t usually get too riled up about reality television shows. After all, we all know that reality television isn’t truly real.  Though the shows are unscripted, situations are manipulated, and footage is edited to create the most drama possible. Like train wrecks, they are horrifying to watch and yet, you can’t look away.

Yet, when I watched the first five episodes of Season 3 of Preacher’s Daughters, I noticed something more disturbing than the usual cat fighting and drunken hook-ups that seem to be part of every reality show these days. Among the eight young women, ranging in age from 18-24, there are a few of them who are grappling with serious issues such as depression, drug and alcohol addictions, and the trauma of being sexually abused.

kristiana001Kristiana Flowers

One story that personally touched me was that of Kristiana Flowers. Kristiana is the 18-year old daughter of Reverend Kenneth James Flowers of the New Greater Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. In the first episode of the Lifetime series, Kristiana confessed that she has “struggled with sexuality” for a while. Kristiana, who confirmed that she has “been with a girl,” told the other preacher’s daughters that struggling against something that she doesn’t have a choice about contributed to the depression that led to her being hospitalized. The other girls say that they don’t know why people think Christians hate gay people. They say that God still loves her and so do they. Tyche Crocket, of New Orleans, LA, takes this moment to come out as bisexual. All the other young women in the house offer their support. Well, all but one of them.

tyche001Tyche Crocket

Cierra Vaughn, another preacher’s daughter who seems to have her own sins to worry about (drinking, cursing, losing her temper) tells Kristiana that being gay is a slap in the face to God and that she will ultimately go to hell if she doesn’t change. Worse yet, Cierra suggests that the fact that Kristiana was sexually abused as a young child may be the reason why she is gay.

cierra002Cierra Vaughn

There are so many things I could say in response to Cierra’s comments. As a preacher’s daughter myself, I could go scripture for scripture for anyone who wants to try to assert that Christ would condemn anyone in the LGBTQ community, when in fact Jesus Christ didn’t say one word about homosexuality in the bible. Yet, it doesn’t seem worth it to have a debate about the bible with those who are too close-minded to listen. Instead, I’d like to share some words of encouragement for Kristiana Flowers and other queer Christians who have felt like their sexuality was at odds with their spiritual beliefs.

PDs support Kristiana

1) Being a Christian and being a member of the LGBTQ community are not mutually exclusive. 

A Christian friend once told me that I could either be gay, or be a Christian. In her narrow interpretation of the bible, I couldn’t possibly be both. Unfortunately, I believed her for quite some time, and I too became very depressed believing that since I couldn’t pray away my sexual orientation, I would have to stop praying all together. As a preacher’s daughter, giving up the church didn’t just mean giving up services on Sunday morning. It meant giving up the community and culture that I grew up within.

Then another Christian friend of ours said something that changed my life. She told me that only Christ himself could determine who is a Christian and who is not. At the end of the day, it is my relationship with Christ that matters, not my relationships with other people.

Soon I realized that there were many people of faith who also identified as gay, lesbian and bisexual. It was a stereotype to assume that all Christians were anti-LGBTQ, just as it was a stereotype to assume that all LGBTQ people were anti-Christianity. This is where intersectionality comes in.  I can be both black and a woman. I can also be both queer and a Christian.  In fact, there are many people who have the same intersecting identities.

2) Well-educated theologians and religious leaders agree that the passages in the bible that do address homosexuality, such as the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, have been widely misinterpreted.

Furthermore, the focus on homosexuality in this bible passage as opposed to rape and incest speaks more about our prejudices as a society than God’s law.  More and more churches are open and affirming, including the Episcopal Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) The United Church of Christ (UCC) and to some degree the United Methodist Church, to name a few.

3) To God, You are Perfect.

There is nothing wrong with you. You are not sick. You are not damaged. You do not need to be saved from your sexuality because no one person or experience made you gay. The American Psychiatric Association stated in its May 2000 website fact sheet “Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues”:

“[N]o specific psychosocial or family dynamic cause for homosexuality has been identified, including histories of childhood sexual abuse.

Sexual abuse does not appear to be more prevalent in children who grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, than in children who identify as heterosexual.”

That was in 2000, people. It’s now 2015. Can we finally put this hurtful myth to rest?  I mean who are you going to listen to when it comes to biological and psychological matters? A religious organization with obvious bias or the American Psychiatric Association?

Whenever someone implies that God may be disappointed by the fact that I am queer, I remember that their disgust only reflects their own personal issues and biases. They do not and cannot speak for God. When I begin to feel hurt and upset, I take a deep breath, close my eyes and imagine the scene in Love, Actually, when the dude holds up the sign outside Keira Knightly’s door. “To Me, You are Perfect,” I imagine God saying. And he would know, since he made me in his image.

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At the end of the first episode of the season, Kristiana Flowers wisely said that that she doesn’t see her sexuality as a problem. She obviously knows that she is a child of God, made in his own image, and as my father would say, “God doesn’t make mistakes.” My hope is that throughout the season, Kristiana will remain confident in both her spiritual beliefs and her God-given sexuality. I encourage Kristiana, Tyche, and any other queer Christians struggling with acceptance in either the religious or queer community, to continue to let their light shine. There are more of us queer Christians than you know probably know. And, we’ve got your back.

Preacher’s Daughters airs Friday nights at 10/9c on Lifetime.

 

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