Rediscovering Religion When You're Gay

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

That’s the journey this reader went through:

When I was 12, I figured out this gay thing wasn’t going away and I had a choice. I could remain in the faith of my father [Catholicism] and hate myself, or I could stop believing. I stopped believing and became an angry teenage atheist who would have adored Richard Dawkins if he’d been present in that role at the time.

It wasn’t until I moved to Seattle and met religious people who weren’t your stereotypical fundamentalist nuts that I realized that it was possible for people like that to exist. Then I met my college best friend, who led me back to religion in the weirdest way.

She spoke French. I’d learned German in high school, so we had no shared private language to talk to each other on the bus. We agreed to study a new one together and settled on Hebrew.

After the first year, I spent a summer in Israel studying intensely. Then I changed my major. Then I found that Judaism was a gentler faith, Reform Judaism was accepting, and the ancient ritual appealed to me, largely because of my Catholic upbringing.

I gained my faith back and converted. My husband converted as well, and our son is at temple each week.

My parents are happy with this. They’re sad their grandson will never be baptized and they don’t understand a lot of what we talk about, since their Jewish best friends aren’t terribly observant. But they appreciate that their son and grandson are deeply involved in a religious community. It would have been theirs if the church weren’t so traumatizing to gay kids.

Earlier we heard from a reader who agonized over staying with the Catholic Church because of its stance toward gay marriage, but in the end she stuck with her church community. If you had any similar struggles, let us know.