Home > Uncategorized > The First Step

The First Step

I decided to create this blog because it’s time that gay members and former members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo create a community (albeit virtual) so that they would never again feel alone in their struggles to reconcile their sexual orientation with their religious beliefs. I have observed that some of my gay Jewish or Christian friends were able to connect with other gay people of their respective religions. Why can’t we, current and former INC members, do the same?

Having been born into the church, I left INC in 2004 after deciding that I could not be part of any religion that deems homosexuals unfit for heaven. However, my severance from the church was a calculated effort, not immediate. The process started in February. On the days when I attended service, I purposely did not turn over my name tag. I wanted the deacons to think that I always attended but just forgot to turn over the plastic that had my name inscribed on it. That way, on the days when I didn’t go to church, they would be conditioned to believe that my forgetfulness got the better of me.

In February, I missed one service. In March, two services. By May, I missed half of the services, and my overseers finally called me to find out what was going on. Of course, I never picked up the phone. (They had only my landline number, so they were never able to reach me via cell phone.) They called again in June and July. I don’t remember the exact date, but one Thursday in early July was the last time I ever set foot in the building called “The House of Worship.” The experience was liberating and devastating at the same time.

About 80% of my social network was the church. When I decided to leave, I also decided, painfully, to let go of this network. The INC members were really very nice people. But I couldn’t tell them what was ailing me. I couldn’t reveal that I was gay. I just had to leave on my terms, quietly and discreetly.

Over time, I made new friends in the secular world in which I had chosen to remain. I wanted more gay friends, so I made more of an effort to find them (though my natural shyness made the effort a bit difficult at first). While I am much happier now, I admit that Mom and Dad still don’t know that I left the church. They do know that I’m gay, for I told Mom in December of ’04, and she, in turn, informed Dad. The whole family and my relatives know now. (In my family, once someone finds out something, the whole family tree starts to shake its leaves.) I believe that if my parents found out that I have not been attending services for five years, they would feel many times more pain than they did upon learning of my coming out.

Whatever problems that you are trying to resolve, be rest assured that many INC people are in similar predicaments. You may not know who they are. You may not know who I am. But you certainly have my support. Please comment if you like. I hope that we can finally establish a small community for ourselves.

-ICS

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Samuel Alcoran
    July 25, 2013 at 1:51 am

    I am a former member of Iglesia Ni Cristo. I haven’t been going to church for over 10 years. I must say that I am at the Waipahu location right now and have been thinking about returning to church for good. I have gay friends. What the bible says is the truth. I wish there was another way but i can not deny what it says in the bible about being gay or lesbian. I did not create those rules. How we accept it is up to us. I’m a sinner and that’s the truth about me. I’ve come to realize on how hard it was for me to understand that there is what I must do and what I want to do and they are not always the same. I have never been one to condemn anyone for being who they are so on that note I can not understand why good Christians would just cut anyone off or write anyone off just because they are different. However I would be lieing if I said that the bible is not felling the truth. What we want and what God wants is not always the same. However no one has the right to judge anyone who is gay or of a different sexual preference. All the judging is up to God. In this life we all struggle. All of us have different personal problems and I can honestly say its not good to be alone facing heavy problems. I feel your struggles even though I am not gay myself. Just remember, never stop praying and never give up hope.

  2. Tim
    May 28, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Hello ALL: Reconciling your religion and sexuality is a challenge in itself. I only have a select few church friends and relatives that accept me for who I am. Im also not one to flaunt my sexuality. Luckily, I’m also in a congregation where there are a LOT of unmarried people (in their late 40’s, 50’s and 60’s). Also, there are a lot of independent, and established singles as well. So I fit in perfectly.

    Family. My immedaite family knows. I made the official announcement via a phone call when I was living in the East Coast. I was prepared for whatever reaction they would have, and to my surprise, they were very understanding. My mom even told me she’s known since I was 10. Though they’ve met my partner (and ex-es) my mom still coimes to terms with it. They too have a similar “coming out” experience but in terms of acceptance. It takes time.

    Office. As an organist, a lot of my emotion and expressiveness comes through when I am performing. It is my personal and spiritual link that can never be replaced. I’ve been to many locales, and a lot of the choir leaderships that I’ve been on were informed on an as-needed basis.

    Social Life: I don’t usually hang too much with the brethren. Over the years, I’ve noticed that my relationship with fellow brethren/officers is trivial and we talk about trivial things. I’ve had relationships with fellow gay INC members in the Philippines. uinfortunately, they were the kiss and tell types and drama/gossip ensued. With that said, I usually put up a lot of walls when meeting new people. I’ve learned that even in spiritual matters, I am not serving any mortal person, but to God alone. I’ve also been accustomed to having a life outside of church as well.

    Reconciliation: I’ve come out at work and my external network of professionals and friends. Though often times I see and feel the conflict that comes from the doctrines. I accept it. As hard it is to believe, I feel this is my sacrifice when I serve Him. Though the Bible says one thing, and is interpreted and preached one way, I can only be appalled at what comes out of the mouths of certain ministers IN THE WORSHIP SERVICES…this is simply ignorance on their part and not delve into it. My personal beliefs on the Biblical interpretation of homosexuality especially in the Old Testament is that in that ‘story’ sodomy was commonplace in revelry and orgies but also as conquerors on the battlefield, one way it was used is akin to rape and conquering the emotions of the conquered. WHat they are missing is the love shared by two same sex couples, the genuine love that is shared between two people regardless of their gender.

    Homosexuality is diverse in itself. Gender Identity & Expression and Sexual orientation are two separate terms. I am a man, who knows he’s a man, expresses as a man, and likes men. On the opposiute, there are men, who feel they are female, express themselves as female, and so forth…

    FOr those that have left or are contemplating leaving the church, do you still belioeve in God? Would you attend an all-gay church? (there are many here in San Francisco) WOuld you choose to leave faith altogether?

    • May 28, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      Tim — What an insightful and intelligent post! Many gay members are having a difficult time reconciling their sexual orientation with their membership inside INC. It seems that you have found contentment with your choice to stay in the church.

      Frankly, I don’t care what gay members decide to do about their INC membership. I just want them to be genuinely happy with their decisions. It’s unlikely that I will return to the Iglesia, and I’m not sure yet if joining an all-gay church or gay-friendly church is necessary (although I have contemplated it). Even though I have left the Iglesia, 28 years in the religion have made it hard for me to shake off the belief that God exists. And I’m sure that my sense of ethics is influenced, in part, by my years in a religious organization. Some questions that still linger for me are: Can you still believe in God without having religion? Is a belief in God necessary in order to lead an ethical life? These questions are easy to answer for people who belong in a religion, any religion. But what about the rest of the population?

  3. coke
    August 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    It is only my mother’s health is only keeping me from going to church because I’m afraid this would lead her to depression , my mom Is so religious she has ” tungkulin” and so is my sisters and father I am afraid I will be the cause of I don’t know what will happen if I would do such an act . Owh life

    • August 13, 2012 at 3:43 am

      Dear Coke– Thank you for finding and replying to the blog post. I am Filipino, though I live in the northeastern region of the United States. I had the same fears when I considered telling my parents about me. I thought Dad would have a heart attack and die, and that my family would blame me. I thought my family would disown me.

      I was 28 when I finally came out to my mother. I did it over the phone, two weeks before my planned visit to my family in the West Coast. By the time I called her, I told myself that I needed to accept the ramifications. Luckily for me, I was in a different place than when I was 18 years old. I was no longer financially dependent on my parents. I was living 3 time zones away. I had come out to my sister 7 months earlier, and the result turned out very well. Although the initial reaction from my mother was of shock, in the end she said that she still loved me. I am still loved by my family, and I visit them often every year.

      With that said, I want to stress that I risked a lot by coming out to family. It’s hard to know what the aftermath will be. I think you need to consider the potential consequences and whether or not you are willing to accept them. Also, ask yourself these questions:
      ** Do you still live with your family? Are you dependent on your parents? (If they throw you out of the house, do you know where you could safely stay?)
      ** Do you have a network of accepting friends and family outside of INC? If not, you may want to start developing non-INC friends.
      ** Is there an organization- in your neighborhood or at school- that helps people with the coming-out process?
      ** Are you prepared to sever ties with the Church and with the only God whom you have ever known? If you have close friends at the Church, are you prepared to lose them as well?

      You don’t have to make any decisions today. Just start thinking about your options and then plan accordingly.

      – I.

      • coke
        August 13, 2012 at 9:58 am

        Yeah i got your point . Good for you hmm anyway I think I will wait by the time I am independent na . But what is the hardest thing about my fture decesion is that I used to be “handog ” or I was blessed when I was a baby. How about you ? I was also discourage by some choir singers inside the inc , almost 1/4 of them are pregnant without a father … I can’t bare to look at them infront . Anyway I love the rest about the inc. Esp.my experience when I was younger before . .

      • coke
        August 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

        I wonder if there is someone willing to deal with this issue and enlightened them by reality that gay’s are born biologicaly and not by choices . I really am hoping someday that INC would accept gays in the future . After 48 yrs hahaha

  4. coke
    August 12, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I salute you for what have you done , but in my case it’s like I am waiting for someone or whoever in inc to change what the bible said.. And I am not as brave as you are , I am afraid of my parents and loved ones reaction if I will leave inc. . What about us gay ? And lesbian? We are humans ? This is reality ?

  5. coke
    August 12, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Hi , I saw this post while I am googling. I am having the same problems as yours I live in philippines, 18 , almost all of my relatives are inc , I can’t talk to anybody. I am planning to move on and want to stop worshiping , since they don’t allow homosexuality . Can u help me with this , I need advice from sa “nakaktanda” do u understand filipino ?

  6. jay
    February 23, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Hello there I and J Im not sure if this chat is still active but like you guys I am also a gay church member and like J, I stopped attending the worship services for almost 2 years now.

    • March 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Jay,

      Wow, this is surprising! You’re the second person already this year who found and responded to the old post I wrote in 2009. Nice to hear from you. This isn’t really a chat (I don’t think J knows that you posted), but I suppose I could create something someday, especially if more people find the post.

      Sorry for taking so long to respond (work is just very busy right now). I hope you are doing well. If you would like to include your story on the blog, feel free to send it to me, and I’d be happy to post it.

      Thanks,
      I

    • J
      March 5, 2012 at 3:57 am

      Hi Jay,

      This is quite surprising. It’s good to be able to hear from others about the very same situation. I too would like to know your story and a bit about yourself, albeit anonymous.

      J

  7. J
    January 30, 2012 at 3:08 am

    I don’t think my last reply posted. However, as I mentioned, I would most probably come out to my dad first as he has been the most supportive of me. My observed views of gay people from my brother and sister is a mixed bag so if I at least have acknowledgement from my dad, I would hope that they too would accept me. I don’t think I would initiate coming out to people other than my family unless word spread, they asked, or if I introduced a potential partner. I did have a brief relationship but we didn’t progress further because of my situation which really tore my heart apart. We were both closeted and had religious families. We still remain bestfriends, but know we can’t have each other just because of the church–that is the only reason. I would consider counselling, but I don’t know if they would truly understand my situation. And that is how I found your blog after so much heartache.

    As a matter of asking, may I know how old you are? And how old were you when you came out to your parents?

    Thanks,
    J

  8. J
    January 28, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    Hi. I was doing a bit of soul searching and came upon your blog. Like you, I’m in the same situation and I’m finding it difficult to live my life. I’m hoping to be able to contact you and discuss our similar fate.

    • January 29, 2012 at 5:08 am

      Dear J,

      Thank you for your comment. This blog has only one post, which I wrote two years ago primarily because I thought there must be other former/current church members out there who are going through similar, if not parallel, situations. I wasn’t sure if anyone was going to find the post, but I’m glad you did. Writing the post also helped me to heal a little, even though I still harbor the secret of not telling my parents that I no longer attend church.

      There are many ways to deal with situations like ours. It’s important that you think through what courses of action you might take (leave or stay in your religion, come out or stay closeted, etc.) and the potential ramifications. Are you ready to lose friends or family? How will you make new friends? Is there a support group in your area? Will you choose to still believe in God, and if so, what kind of relationship will you have with God? There are no easy answers, but if you are comfortable (or at least make peace) with your decisions, then perhaps you’re headed in the right direction.

      If you would like to post a story on this blog, I’d be happy to include it. Hey, maybe one day we’ll have a slew of stories from people just like us.

      Best,
      I

      • J
        January 29, 2012 at 7:48 am

        Thanks for replying so soon. I thought since it was written a few years back I wasn’t sure if I’d get a reply at all. I’m actually glad I found it because now I know I’m not alone.

        To be honest, I’m at a loss at what to do. I’m reaching my prime where most of my friends are getting married except for me. Like you, I was born into the church so leaving would be very difficult as it is so deeply rooted in me. However, I would rather come out to my parents before anything as I feel that they would be fine with it (albeit a bit disappointed not having any grandchildren. Alhough I do have siblings who will fulfill this. But in hindsight, I think they might suspect anyway). By the way, how did your parents react when you told them? I don’t have a large group of friends, so the close friends I keep should be fine with it also. Living in metropolitan Sydney also helps in that it is quite liberal in that respect. I do have a friend with whom I’ve spoken to about my whole situation so I know where to go if I need support. As for my relationship with God, I don’t know. Which is where the most conflicting part of it all has brought me to depression and unhappiness. I can be in the church, unhappy and alone, but somewhat spiritually satisfied, or out of the church, happy with someone, but spiritually lost. I feel I can’t win either way and because of my fear of the unknown and what will happen, I find it hard to let go. Not to mention the scrutiny that will come with either choice.

        As for posting a story on this blog, I would be happy to, although I don’t think my story is finished just yet. I too, hope that others will find this and post their stories as well as it would feel quite liberating for all of us in this predicament.

        Thanks,
        J

      • January 29, 2012 at 1:09 pm

        Hello J,

        Reading your recent comment reminded me of the compound struggle we go through as gay people who grew up in the INC. It’s not just about coming out; it’s also about our relationship with God and the church in which we were raised.

        I live in the Upper East Coast of the U.S. First I came out to friends. Then I told my sister (who lives in the Midwest) in May of ’04 over the phone. That turned out to be an easy call, because she said that she already knew. Then late in the year, I called Mother (who lives in the West Coast) to tell her. She didn’t believe me at first, citing names of several girls in the church whom I used to “like”. Then she thought I was going through a phase, going so far as saying that these days, it’s fashionable to be gay. (Think Queer Eye, Will and Grace, Ellen.) She was incredibly calm over the phone, but later I found out that she cried deeply afterward. As far as I know, my sisters all accept that I’m gay, my Father and brothers think that I’ll change, and Mother vacillates. With that said, we don’t talk much about the gay issue these days. There are other, more pressing, family issues to deal with anyway.

        Although it’s hard to predict the future, it sounds like your parents will still love you even if you tell them. It also sounds like you have a pretty strong support system. The church is the big issue. Can you come out to certain people and still be part of the church? Would coming out in public mean that you have to leave the church? If you find someone you love, how secretive about the relationship will you want to be? These questions are heavy, and I’m sure there a lot more questions to deal with. So take your time in making your decisions.

        When I talked with a therapist about my church issues, I told him that even though I left the church, I could never really let go of it. The teachings will always be a part of me. So it was just a matter of learning how to make use of the teachings to craft a decent, responsible life outside of the church. I have things to work through, for sure, like whether to tell the parents that I’m no longer going to church. But 7 years after coming out, I’m confident in saying that I’m much happier today than I’ve ever been.

        Feel free to contact me again if you need to talk… or vent. Oh, and I’ll wait for your story, so I can place it here. :)

        I

      • J
        January 29, 2012 at 6:37 pm

        I,

        For some reason I would most likely tell my parents first. I’ve seen the reactions that my brother and sister have toward gay people and it’s a bit of a mixed bag so if I got my parents acknowledgement first they may accept me as I am as well (I would tell my dad first because he’s the one who’s always supported me the most in everything). We are a tightly knit family as we don’t have much relatives in Australia, so they’re pretty much all I have and I couldn’t imagine losing them. I don’t think I’d come out to others unless they asked (or if I introduced them to my possible partner). I was in a brief secretive relationship but because of my situation, we couldn’t progress further and that’s what really tore my heart apart. I probably should seek counselling, but the idea that the church is true doesn’t feel the same talking to just anybody (which is why I’m so glad I found your blog). Do you think you’ll tell your parents you no longer go to church? If you don’t mind me asking how old you were when you came out to your family? Also, I’m guessing you don’t act effeminate either?

        Thanks,
        J

      • February 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm

        Hi J,

        My deepest apologies for not responding sooner. Work has become very busy as of late, and I also got sick last week. (In fact, I’m working right now.) So I have been a bit MIA in email responses.

        I’m not sure if I will tell my parents that I’m no longer going to church. They’re in their 70s, and Dad is not healthy, so sometimes I think it’s not even worth discussing. Also, I live in the East Coast, which so far has allowed me to maintain my secret more easily than if I lived in the West Coast. I have thought about returning to the West to be closer to my family, but I always stop short of any real action because moving back would mean having to confront the church issue head on.

        I was 28 when I came out to the family. (I will be 36 later this year.) By then, I had lived independently in the East Coast for 3 years, and I wanted to make gay friends as an openly gay man. It was, simply, the right time for me.

        I have some effeminate mannerisms, though I don’t try to act/appear like a woman in the traditional sense. I like dressing up in regular guy clothes, and I enjoy working out at the gym and doing yoga. I don’t wear makeup; the only thing I put on my face is moisturizer. I’m a short guy with a slim frame. With that said, I have nothing against effeminate gay men. I think what makes gay male culture so interesting is that we are more diverse than our straight male counterparts. As you may have (or will) learn, that same diversity lends itself to discrimination within the gay world, but it is up to us to rise above it.

        Best,
        I

      • J
        February 6, 2012 at 4:50 am

        Hi I,

        That is totally fine. I just thought that it wasn’t sending for some reason, but I apologise for the numerous responses.

        As I have done so much searching online and reading the bible, I think I’ll be holding on by staying in the church for a little while. Regardless of whether I grew up in the church or not, I always had a notion that when you die that is it, you’re dead. So I don’t think I have anything to lose whether I’m happy or sad now because in the end I wouldn’t know any better when I’m lying down 6 feet under. I understand that does seems rather depressing considering how long life can be. But I feel my conscience and my heart will always make me feel guilty no matter what decision I make (especially when the question I ask myself if I should continue to live this lie). I can’t shake that off despite being a total wreck ever since I lost the love of my life and I can’t bear to go through it all again, so this March (for HS), I’m going to try and give it all up and see where I end up in life. I am only human.

        When my parents start asking and pestering me about why I’m not getting married, I think that’s when I’ll tell them. My family isn’t very affectionate, so when it comes to discussing any type of emotion, it is very difficult (we all get along well, we just don’t talk about deep feelings, relationships, sex etc).

        I never really understood why such a minority fighting for the same rights can be so vicious to each other in regards to the way they act. Just like any other person, I treat them with respect provided I’m respected in return. I’ve been told that I don’t come off as effeminate when it comes to first impressions, though I don’t act “manly” in other instances when I begin to open up to others. But sometimes I wish I was never born, never gay or never knew religion..

        Do you think you will ever return to the church?

      • February 8, 2012 at 11:50 pm

        Hi J,

        I don’t think I can return to the church. If I did, it would be disingenuous. I just can’t be part of any religion that condemns homosexuals. With that said, I completely respect my parents’ love of the church. It makes them happy. When I visit them, I take them to church and attend the services with them. Ironically, I no longer harbor any hatred or discomfort when I attend; I almost feel like a visitor. Have I forgiven the church for its beliefs? I don’t think so. I think I simply don’t care anymore.

        When you say that you’re going to give it all up in March, do you mean that you will voluntarily separate from the church and see what happens? Or are you going to give up trying to reconcile religion with your sexuality and simply stay in the church? Whatever decisions we make will have ramifications. We just don’t know what they are, and that’s the scary part. But if, by taking a risk, we stand a chance at more clarity in our lives (and even some happiness), then maybe the risk is worth it.

        Your last comment struck a chord. When I was really struggling with church and sexuality, I once said those 3 “wish I were never” statements. It took a lot of mental therapy, but now I can say that I’m grateful that I was born, happy to be gay (it’s simply a part of who I am and doesn’t completely define me), and glad that I knew religion (because it helps me understand a little better about the struggles of gays of all religions). I really want you to be happy, and I think it can happen. You just have to be willing to tread through a dense forest that doesn’t provide a direct path to a solution.

        I

      • J
        February 9, 2012 at 7:17 am

        Hi I,

        I guess it would seem a little counterintuitive. Life just seems so much easier to be heterosexual. I don’t know if I’ll every marry. I would be lying to my wife if I kept it from her and she would be the last person I would want to lie to. I guess I can only be content if she knew but then how can I love someone I’m not physically attracted to? Sometimes I wish the world would end or I died, whichever came first, but I would choose the latter because that would be selfish.

        I don’t harbour any hatred or discontent. I don’t know what God is thinking, but I feel he knows my situation, and everytime I read a line in the hymnal book that relates to how I feel, I always burst out in tears because of this conflict that I hope and pray I would be free from. I sometimes wish that maybe he could change his mind on the issue..

        I’m going to try and reconcile and stay in the church. I’m really worried about what the future holds since I’m always questioning the existence of anything. Having religion gives me hope regardless of whether there is a God or not but that also creates a double standard.

        I’m also afraid of disappointing my parents, I feel as though I can’t leave especially since they hold offices. My bestfriend told me to stop worrying about making other people happy and worry about making myself happy because he hated seeing me so upset all the time.. But I’m so scared.. I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid that if I don’t make a move now, I’ll be much older, alone and still unhappy. But I’m really at a loss for what to do. But thanks for your concern. I hope one day I can be. But for now, I feel I cannot find true happiness in this life. If I do, I’ll let you know.

        Thanks for letting me rant,
        J

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: