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When Did You Know?


If you're fortunate enough to be born into an easy placement in the dominant paradigm, i.e. straight and cis-gendered, you may never have heard this question. I hear it quite often.

I invite you to walk with me and imagine yourselves in my loafers - feel and think about how different your life might be if this was your experience. Ask yourselves: Where will I go to find out about God? What church would have me? Can God still use me?

I knew when I was three years old that boys and girls weren't the same. I also knew that I felt like a boy. Being a child of the church, I believed in miracles and prayed fervently for God to "re-align" me - change how I felt or change my body to match how I felt. When puberty came along, I felt that God was punishing me - because I was already attracted to little girls and because all I'd ever heard was that I was just wrong, broken, an abomination.

As I grew up, I was mystified by my feelings - I was clearly attracted to girls, but didn't feel like "lesbian" felt accurate. I remember asking my girlfriends if they would still love me if I was a boy. They didn't understand why I was asking and, truthfully, neither did I. Also, I would periodically get major crushes on boys and when I had an opportunity to date them, realized that I didn't want to be with them, I wanted to be them!

When the first of my friends transitioned, I had a mix of emotions - exhilaration, anger, fear, grief. I was thrilled that I could actually "become" the man that I felt on the inside. I was angry that I had difficult life choices to make - life as a black man in the  US isn't exactly an exalted position. I was sad to imagine that many of my friends in the lesbian and women's communities would no longer see me as a trusted ally. I was fearful of telling my mother and losing her love and support and I was dismayed at the thought that my life couldn't begin until she passed on.

I knew I had to have the courage to transition - I didn't want to wish for my mom's demise on any level and I knew I would only have peace when my insides and outsides matched. I had the advantage of having a Pastor that I could turn to with my concerns, including the biggest of them all - telling my momma!

Over a decade has passed since then. My mom and I are closer than ever and I am at peace. I also received an unanticipated gift - finding a purpose and call in God. In this place - the intersections of gender and affectional orientation - my ministry has been revealed to me! I am grateful to serve God's people in the margins - those who are seeking the "who-so-ever" love of God!

Note: This reflection also appeared on the blog of the Association of Welcoming Baptists in April 2013.


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