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Susan R

Nice First Time Experience at Church as Me!

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Susan R

For those who don't know me, I'll give you some of my religious background before I tell you about my morning.  I was raised Catholic...strict "never miss a Sunday service" Catholic.  You can see why it took 56 years to embrace my identity.  I'm not putting down Catholics...just the parenting I received and lack of accepting me as me.  The Catholic Church, while not accepting of people like me, was not the issue.  


In my teens, I fell away from the church and the whole idea of organized religion.  At 23, I had an opportunity to embrace my feminine side and stayed away from those who would not accept me as me as I moved further away from family and all my old friends.


After 8 or 9 years of living mostly female (except at work), I felt like maybe through prayer, I could "get fixed".  I even went as far as going with my then girlfriend to a huge non-denominational Christian church for awhile and presenting myself as male.  One evening, my girlfriend and I set up an appointment, went to the church and had the pastors pray over me.  I thought for sure, this was it for Susan.  Well, that was short lived as I almost immediately fell back into to being myself again.  A few years later, one of my younger sisters asked me to attend a Southern Baptist community church with her.  It was a wonderful church..non-affirming but very nice if you were a cis person.  I attended presenting male and I fit right in.  Of course, I came home and immediately became myself again and continued to live my dual life, hiding Susan from my church.  I lived like that for 5 years.  I was plugged into the church completely and was fully accepted as someone I wasn't.


Shortly after meeting my future wife online in Aug. 1996, I decided it's time to put my femininity to rest for good.  I purged everything and got married 2 years later but eventually fell away from that S. Baptist church too.  I started seeing all the hypocrisy in it and finally left.


I went 15 years with no church, congregation, or group of people to worship alongside.  My wife and I in 2014 started and hosted our own Sunday "share group & bible study" in our home.  It started out casually with just a few neighbors.  And then a few more came so I set a regular time each week to meet.  I was a wonderful experience and continued on until April of this year, a month before I finally came out to the world.  I ended the group in preparation to coming out.  I knew that some would reject me and the group so I said I was taking a break knowing it would likely never continue again.  Most of the group still talk with me and accept me as Susan but I am not ready to lead it again right now until the dust settles a bit.  Time will tell where that goes.


My wife has been attending a her own very strict Pentecostal Christian church since 2013.  I attended a dozen or so times but never felt 100% comfortable because of me being transgendered.  She told her two pastors about me and they fully understand and accept her embracing me and staying in the relationship.  But when she asked if I could ever attend a service, they stated, "We can cross that bridge when we come to it."  Well that bridge ain't coming for a very long time.  That's not affirming to me in any way shape or form.


This brings me to today.  My wife went to her regular non-affirming Pentecostal church this morning and I decided to check out the LGBTQ affirming Episcopal church just 2 blocks from my home.  They have LGBTQ affirming rainbows everywhere in their signage and I found them conveniently online when I first started my medical transition 9 months ago.  I signed up for their e-newsletter...kept up with their "goings on" ever since but never felt the urge to go.  I read in their e-newsletter that the longtime pastor there was going to serve her last sermon today so I woke up with my wife and I decided to finally attend.  I put on one my finest outfits and strolled a few blocks and was greeted so kindly.  I sat in a middle pew and followed along with the service very well.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had most of the prayers still memorized from my Catholic upbringing.  It was very similar.


I felt completely comfortable as I saw several LGBTQ community members among the congregation and the pastor was wearing a brightly colored LGBTQ Hawaiian lei around her neck as were a few dozen other members.  The sermon was spot on and dealt with real issues regarding acceptance, love and understanding.  I'm not sure how they knew I was coming but it was wonderful.  After the service, everyone came over to me to greet me and spend a few moments talking.  It felt longer than the service itself.  I not sure if anyone knew I was transgendered but truthfully, I really didn't care.  It was such an affirming group of people, I just took it all in and enjoyed myself in the moment.


TLDR:  My childhood, teens, young adult and later life were all non-affirming but today I had a wonderful experience attending an affirming LGBTQ church service!


Thanks to those who took time to read it all,

Susan R🌷

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Just now, Susan R said:

 I'm not sure how they knew I was coming but it was wonderful.  

One of the signs that you were in the right place at the right time xx I am so glad you have found an affirming church, and one so close!

Just now, Susan R said:

I just took it all in and enjoyed myself in the moment.

Any worship service is supposed to allow you to be in the moment as it is a real union between you and God. The church is meant to be the practical working out of Gods love on earth - it is where the overflow of the love we receive through Christ first starts spilling out into the world around us. The sign of the cross + is an excellent visual representation of the connection that exists up to God and out to others. 

I am really, really happy for you Susan.


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Susan R

Thank you @DeeDee for your comments.  The experience felt directed at me specifically but I know the service was helping many others as well.  It's Pride month and it was a just great time to attend.  It's the first time in my life I was being my true self worshiping God openly in public.  Not a single stone was thrown.  Imagine that!

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Here in Los Angeles, the LGBT Ministry of our Episcopal Diocese conducted a Pride Mass and had the Trans Chorus of L.A. doing special service music for it.  Being a member of both the Chorus and the ministry group does have me involved and I love it so much.  I am so glad you found the parish you did, and as Dee said above, the idea of the church is to make you feel at home as yourself and thereby open to the real purpose of worship which is to bring highly diverse people together where the fear of strangeness can evaporate and communication can begin. 

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