The final paragraph in this reader note from Amy is the most powerful, showing how she was able to embrace who she is without rejecting religion altogether:
I grew up at a Southern Baptist church in Louisiana, where I was homeschooled and then attended a fundamentalist evangelical high school. Religion was never a choice there, starting the day that a Sunday School teacher said that if I didn’t have Jesus in my heart, the afterlife would be like putting my whole body on a hot stove—forever. What 6-year-old would choose that?
In middle and high school, I realized that I was a lesbian, but I managed to hide it until college. It also didn’t make sense in my head that I could be gay, because my church only showed us videos of crazy adults at Pride Parades that apparently hated God, and that wasn’t me, so how could I be gay?
Although I attended a Southern Baptist university, it was a moderate one with plenty of nonreligious students (and even a fairly large Muslim population). [CB: Many more readers talked about their same-sex attraction at Christian colleges in this Notes thread.] So I had the choice to go to church or not, and I chose not. Because my entire worldview was shaped by fundamentalism, I couldn’t be a part of a religion that pointed to hell if I fell in love.
But the biggest decision wasn’t the decision to come out and date a woman.