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November 05, 2014 - Image 10

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-11-05

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w w V







Wednesday, November 5 2014 // The Statement 7B
Personal Statement: Falling in love behind closed doors
by Carolyn Gearig

from the pews: the evolution of my Methodism

C oming to college, I shoved United
my religion forcibly to the ist minis
back of my brain. For once ordinati
I didn't have to look for the twinge tials aft
in my father's eye as I declined his his own
grey slacks, button down and trips another
to church with our grandmoth- three ph
er, and in turn ate his eggs on an trial in
orange ceramic plate, balancing on United
my bare knees, curled up in the cor- Church's
ner of the couch. Council,
I watch many of my friends pack was de
up their backpacks at 9 p.m. on violating
Sunday nights to leave the library ral vows
and walk to church service. Every later a
week, parentless, rule-free college panel of
students prioritize their faith over cials ove
their studies, over their sleep, over decision
an extra hour of late night conver- comed h
sation with friends. his role.
But this summer, noise around case at
homosexuality in the United that lac

ster, lost his
on creden-
er marrying
gay son to
man. After
hases of his
front of the
Methodist -
s judicial
frocked for 4
his pasto-
. Six months
an appeals
church offi-Y
rturned that u
and wel-
im back into J
This is one IX
ks fluid consen-


Methodist Church compelled me sus. Some bishops punish
to return to 10 o'clock service on clergymen and women who have
a 90-degree morning, to join indi- openly performed gay marriages
viduals who believed our church's with preventing them to work for a
mission statement should change, day or a week. Other bishops revoke
and propelled me to examine the their credentials entirely, shaming
finite meaning of how I stand as a them and stripping them of the job
Methodist. they passionately believe in. The
The United Methodist Church differences in their approach to the
today is at a crossroads. Among issue are immense and incoherent.
all participants, from individuals My church's motto, "Open
sitting in the pews, to pastors of Minds, Open Hearts, Open Doors,"
churches, to clergy of the Office which had been engrained in every
of the Bishop, the discipline is pamphlet, Sunday school activity
being scrutinized and changes are and sermon growing up, did not
manifesting in some of the largest, hold true. In Ann Arbor, I found
most tangible ways. The advocacy that the Wesley Foundation, a
group, Reconciling Ministries University of Michigan campus
Network, is mobilizing United ministry of the United Methodist
Methodist Churches across the Church, was worlds ahead of my
country to rewrite their mission church back home. One evening,
statements and be open and affirm- I questioned Reverend Rob Roth,
ing of all LGBTQ persons. the current chaplain of the Wesley
Reverend Frank Schaefer, a Foundation, about how his church
, sS A mostaa V transformed into a rec-
onciling one - and as I
did my own resistance
to Methodism morphed.
It didn't come from
* *the facts that stood
clear in my mind con-
sistently. There are
seven major passages in
the Bible condemning
homosexuality in some
form - none of them
are Jesus speaking, and
more importantly, none
of them speak to how
we understand homo-
sexuality or bisexuality

in 2014. Modern psychology hasn't
recognized homosexuality as men-
tal illness for decades and Method-
ism respects the science of its time.
Methodism stays consistent to its
interpretations. If we take Leviti-
cus 18:22, "thou shalt not lie with
mankind, as with womankind: it is
abomination," that would mean we
would need to take every passage,
every sin and punishment, literally. -
But where my identity evolved
was where I learned that being
Methodist did not mean stand-
ing with a list of beliefs every one
of my fellow Methodists believed.
Issues of homosexuality would not
be on that list, because Methodism,
unlike so many religions, does not
have a list. We have articles of faith
in our discipline that we respect but
we are not a confessional church.
Instead, we have a quadrilateral
scripture that embodies: scripture,
tradition, reason and experience.
Methodists, by definition, means
the person sitting next to you in
the pew takes scripture, tradition,
reason and experience in any form
they believe. We are not taught or
directed, we are enlightened and
given the opportunity to interpret.
And today, not enough have inter-
preted and understood that those
seven passages should not keep
gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgen-
der or any other humans out of the
church. We must continue to inter-
pret so others can continue to stand
as Methodists.

e W met in the student jour-
nalism office at our subur-
ban high school. She was
on the yearbook staff, a grade older;
I was an editor for the newspaper. It
was like forbidden love. More onthat
A year earlier, another newspa-
per writer and I had lost a lengthy
battle with our high school's admin-
istration over the fate of the news-
paper class. Over time, we fought
their decision to cut the class by
reincarnating the newspaper as an
after school club. At that time, I had
no idea how important this organi-
zation, the office from which it was
run and everything that came out of
it would be in my life.
We officially met on Valentine's
Day: Feb. 14, 2011. It was sophomore
year: the year I had a crush on Dar-
ren Criss, worked backstage at my
high school's production of Seussical
the Musical and took AF U.S. His-
tory. Though I recognized her face
from all of the afternoons I had spent
in that office, writing and editing
stories, we had never had a real con-
versation beforecthat day. In the years
after, I'd forget the date of everything
else that happened, but I would never
forgot that date.
Our first conversation was about
"Glee," which we both watched reli-
giously. Maybe this is an unusual
(and typically high school) way for
two people to become best friends
- but all it took was that conversa-
tion for us to connect. Suddenly, we

were texting constantly and eating
lunch together everyday in the jour-
nalism office. In no time at all, I felt
more comfortable around her than
anyone else; we shared our deepest
secrets and fears and dreams with
each other and never, ever ran out of
things to talk about. In this friend-
ship, I found a deeper level of emo-
tional intimacy than anything I had
ever shared with another person. She
was the best friend that I'd ever had.
With all the similarities that
allowed us to become such close
friends, we were also incredibly dif-
ferent. She was outgoing, where I
was reserved; she loved taking pho-
tographs, I loved to write. She was
confident and sure of herself while I
worried too much about what others
thought of me. Ultimately, the news-
paper gave me this relationship. We
bonded over the ridiculous amounts
of time we devoted to our publica-
tions. The school yearbook contin-
ued to win awards, while the school
newspaper struggled to stay alive.
Regardless, we both did a lot of our
growingup in a computer lab.
We kissed for the first time while
we were watching a documentary on
September 11. By this point, Iwas fill-
ing out college applications and had
been promoted to editor in chief of
the now-monthly newspaper. She
was a freshman in college and had
moved several hours from home. It
seemed like everything had changed
since I was a sophomore, but our
friendship endured it all.

I'll never forget that moment. To
this day, I don't know who started it.
What I do know is that I enjoyed it,
it was completely unexpected and it
hit me straight in the head with no
The following week was perhaps
the scariest time of my life. I had no
idea what was happening: my world
was turned upside down. One week I
considered myself to be straight and
her to be my best friend; the next,
everything was different. The idea
of my friendship changingscared me
shitless. She was the only one I want-
ed to talk to, yet she was the root of
my insecurities.
So began the coming out pro-
cess: something I still can't stand. I
have never been ashamed or embar-
rassed of my sexuality - whatever
it is - but I hate the act of telling. I
feel like it is oftentimes similar to the
fact that Ihave always worn glasses:
something that is importantto me, in
some ways, but mostly just a part of
who Iam. I hate coming out because
it makes me feel so vulnerable: what
is to most people an afterthought is,
to me, deeply personal. At the time, I
had no idea how to define my sexuali-
ty, unwilling to classify it as anything
other than "not straight." I hated
it, because I felt like I had to define
it, though I wasn't sure what that
definition was. I hated it, because of
my friends never had to come out as
straight. Coming out to each person
presented a unique, complicated bat-
tle with myself.

After a lot of discussion and deep
thinking, we decided to make our
relationship official, but I had no
one to share the happy news with.
Instead, we started together on a
path to self-discovery. I realized
more and more, as every minute went
by, how strongly I had felt towards
her. Though I previously had crushes
on boys, it was nothing compared to
the way I felt when she walked into a
room. Everything I had ever done, I
wanted to do with her.
Our relationship didn't survive
my senior year of high school, but
sometimes I wonder if she would
still be in my life had we been in a
boy-girl relationship. The pressures
that came from falling in love while
keeping it a secret and coming to
terms with my own sexuality were
immense. This put pressures on our
relationship that no one should have
to face. And being several hours
apartonly made it that much worse.
Looking back, all the signs were
there. We were close in a way I had
never been with any of my friends.
But I had always identified as
straight. Coming to terms with this
change in my identity was a process
I still struggle with day in and day
out. I have learned that sexuality is
a spectrum and is not as black and
white as I previouslythought.
Luckily, I had several people
who stood by me throughout the
ordeal, and for that I cannot thank
them enough. I am blessed with
open-minded friends and family who

accepted and loved me for who S am.
Without these people, S don't know
how I would have made it through.
For those who I didn't tell until after,
the fact, S was sorry. Trust me wllW
S say that keeping it a secret wasn't
what I wanted.
Ultimately, am I glad it hap-
pened?orfour months ofhappiness
meant more than I can say, but losing
her assa friend because of it was sad-
der than IScan possibly describe. But
in the process,Slearned an incredible
amount about who I was and what I
wanted from the restcofmy life.
Now, I work 20 hours a week
for a newspaper with a legitimate
budget and a circulation of 15,000.
I'm dating a boy. My high school
self wouldn't recognize me now. I'm
happier than I've ever been but I am
often reminded of how much easier
my second relationship is over the
first. I've never hesitated to hold his
hand in public and I don't have to
think twice when telling new friends
and acquaintances that IShave a boy-
friend. I'm more aware than ever of
the privileges S have when ISam with
him, and they are mind-blowing in
comparison. And it makes me sad.
Keepig her a secret hurt moretflM
If we were yien a chance, who
kows what would have happened?
She might still be in my life; we
might have been happily ever after.
But what remains is a new sense of
strength and confidence in who S am
Now, S am unafraid.

T H E statement
Magazine Editor: Photo Editor: Managing Editor:
Carlina Duan Ruby Wallau Katie Burke

Deputy Editors: Illustrator:
Max Radwin Megan Mulholland
Amrutha Sivakumar Editor in Chief:
Design Editor: Peter Shahin
Amy Mackens

Copy Editors:
Mark Ossolinski
Meaghan Thompson


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