LGBTQ+ community shares coming out stories surrounding faith

The Coming Out in Faith Monologues are a refreshing and inclusive showcase of faith in the LGBTQ+ community. Oftentimes, it is difficult to find a balance between faith, gender identity, and sexual identity, but once this balance and inner peace help individuals to flourish.

In the monologues, performers in the LGBTQ+ community share their coming out stories particularly in regards to the struggles they felt with faith. Their stories are extremely personal and each is a gift for the audience, as well as those who cannot or have not yet come out. The final performance takes place Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 at 7:30PM (doors at 7:00PM).

The monologues were held at Hillhurst United Church, an affirming church in Calgary that had a change in core values 7 years ago and has since become an inclusive environment for those who want to practice their faith. In a statement included on the program for this event, the church said, “we strive to accept each other as we are and welcome the ministry and participation of all persons regardless of age, gender identity, health, race, sexual orientation, differing abilities, religious, or ethnic background or economic circumstance.” They believe anyone can have a relationship with God.

The performers have very powerful messages to share. In the first piece, “Mega Christian,” Bryan David Sandberg discusses how everyone around him viewed gay people as scum, and how it made him feel like he would not be able to come out not only because of the stigma surrounding being a gay Christian, but also because of the way he felt, “so fully horrified by [his] own being.” His story was powerful,  inspiring, and at times humorous. Using his sexual identity as his secret identity that he kept buried under Mega Christian, Bryan illustrates the struggle he went through while closeted. Since finding his true identity, Bryan relishes in it.

Bridget Foursha came back for her second performance at the Coming Out in Faith Monologues. With her piece, “The Push,” she discusses how God pushed her to come out as a trans-woman and take the steps necessary for her own happiness. She opened up about how she felt that God embraced her with open and loving arms and that all faith should be the same way.

“That Which I Carry On My Heart,” by Michael Newsom contrasted the emotional baggage he used to carry with the baggage he carries now. His old bag was full of fear of being insulted and ridiculed if he were to tell people he were gay, while his new bag is full of items that have a special significance and help him to tell his coming out story. 

Jackson Tse performed his piece “Liz,” about how he was inspired by another to come out and view the world differently. The monologue deals with what it felt like to be trapped by his religion. In the piece, Tse discusses feeling the need to rid himself of his sexual identity in order to practice his faith. With a sunny disposition, Jackson told the audience about how he learned to hear, see, and feel God in everything around him, rather than where people told him to look.

In her piece “Embrace,” Brynn Burgess touches on the hypocrisy she faced from many in her conservative Christian church. Her piece was similar to spoken word poetry and discussed her struggle to find peace with Christianity. After rejecting God completely for a short period in her life, she felt lost with a, “God shaped hole,” but was soon able to find peace between Christianity and her sexual identity.

June David Marcus Bennie is a transgender woman who struggled to find her voice and figure out who she really was. In her piece, “I Used to Sing Alone,” she discussed how she would watch others for clues on the proper way to act because her inclinations were not the same as theirs. Strumming on a soft guitar, June opens up about how she was always envious of her sister’s voice and wished to sing like her. Now, June embraces her singing voice and her identity.  

Overall, these monologues are some of the most raw, telling, and intimate stories that the performers can share and it is an extremely special and inspiring thing to be a part of.  For many who are in the closet, it is extremely inspiring to hear the stories of others. Often, this is a helpful boost toward feeling comfortable in their own skin.