Posted for a friend:
My journey of self discovery as a queer person has been slow and arduous, hobbled by the shame and guilt drilled into all of us who grew up on the Hof. Bodies, sexual interest, exploring one’s self, I remember all of those things being taboo. Either completely ignored, or villainized. It took me years of mentally and physically punishing myself for having urges, or daring to act on them, before I could outrun all of that guilt, all of that shame. And I only experienced it for a relative few years of my life. But now that I’ve left all of that behind me, now that my brain has developed, now that I’ve left any semblance of organized religion in my past, I’ve been able, over the past 5 years, to figure out who I actually am. And wonderfully, I’ve learned that who I am is who I’m made to be, and that I’m worth loving.
I think I came to this place by very deliberately and very thoroughly pruning away what I grew up believing, one poisonous branch at a time. First went the belief that sexuality is something to fear. Then went the conviction that only married people should share their bodies. Then off came the gnarly, prickly branch that said that anything other than man and woman was abhorrent. I spent several years exploring my gender identity and expression, and finally managed to unwind the binary vine that was choking me to death. Ultimately, I established for myself that my body reflects my mind, but I freed myself in that process to grow and develop and evolve, which is what people do all through their lives.
Here I am, now, nearly 20 years gone from the Bruderhof, and finally able to love and accept myself for who I am: a queer woman, capable of loving people of any and all gender identities and expressions, choosing to share my life with a wonderful woman, leaving ourselves open to loving others as well. Here I am, able to demonstrate to my child that there is no “normal,” there is no “right way” to be a person, there is no “good” way to love. I don’t believe in God or gods. I don’t believe in souls. I don’t believe in any myths or mysticism. But love, in every expression, is sacred to me. Love is holy to me. Sharing your life, your heart, your hopes and fears and flaws and failures, cherishing those of others, that is love, and that is more powerful and meaningful to me than any sermon or scripture. So I’ve crawled out of a place of shame and self-loathing, and discovered that I can love myself, and out of that, I can love others infinitely.
It is painful, it is a huge challenge, it is exhausting to escape what was inflicted on us as children. It takes years, or decades, or a lifetime to leave those burdens behind, and to replace them with the things that you want to carry. But it is possible, and it is so worth the struggle.