Equal Time Fall 2019

Page 32

What happens when the closet feels safer than a confessional? Story by DANNY DACUS | Illustrations by SOPHIA HAUTALA

The intersection of religion and sexuality is consistently an area of contention. Looming fears of conversion therapy, disownment, and disdainful Leviticus quotes conflict with the affirmation that “God makes no mistakes.” Churches have made headlines both for accepting and rejecting LGBTQ+ individuals, but no two experiences are exactly alike. For many people, religion and sexuality are deeply personal aspects of their identity. Take Syracuse University freshman Audrey Liebhaber, a Reform Jew from a fairly religious home. Until two years ago, she kept her sexuality hidden from her family. She came out to her sister first, who wasn’t surprised. But she says that her parents, while supportive, took it much harder. Luckily, they’ve become more accepting over the years, something Liebhaber is grateful for. SU sophomore Jennifer Kim was also hesitant to tell her parents. She came out to her dad as he dropped her off at college her freshman year and was pleasantly surprised when he took it well. “My parents aren’t homophobic at all, my roommates are gay and bi, and they never questioned it with my friends, but I always felt they probably wouldn’t like it if their own kid was bi,” she says. While coming out to her father turned out better than she expected, 30 | EQUALTIME FALL 2019

Kim says she’s still not out to her mom. “I lead a double life with my sexuality,” she says. For many, religion is a place of solace, but for Kim, it’s one of worry and doubt. Her home life centered around religion, as she grew up in a Korean Catholic household with parents who were heavily involved in the church. “My dad was even part of the church council and handles a lot of the stuff in our church like budgeting and projects,” Kim says. “We have crosses in our house, and we go to church for holidays like Christmas and Easter. We also have had our priest over for dinner a lot.” Kim says that many kids in her parish, including those her age, are fairly accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals. But she never discussed LGBTQ+ affairs with any adults, much less came out to them, aware of the fact that they would likely be homophobic. “I was generally just scared of bringing up LGBT-related topics in church because the Catholic church is notorious for being problematic, especially with homophobia… I don’t think it was actively preached, but I knew Catholicism generally looked down on homosexuality,” Kim says. After coming to terms with her sexuality, Kim felt less attached to the Catholic church’s teachings; she now