ONA is the embodiment of my fourteen year old self’s hopes and prayers. I have shared my story with anyone interested in listening. Growing up in a Catholic family made it very difficult to feel comfortable coming out. My family did not receive the news well and I immediately felt isolated. Although my friends were supportive, I felt like my family was using their religion to hurt me. My faith in the faith community was diminishing. One day when I was 16 I had a distraught conversation with a Catholic Priest. Crying, I expected him to continue the shaming but surprisingly he lifted my spirits and gave me hope. Ultimately, however, I knew that the Catholic community as a whole was not what I needed to be the best version of myself. I lost interest in going to church for many years.
One Sunday in the spring of 2015 I remembered a church on MLK blvd that had a large rainbow banner. I decided to visit it with an open mind curious of the juxtaposition: LGBTQ and faith? After the first service I attended (and while holding my then girlfriend’s hand) I was hugged and greeted by complete strangers as if I were family. I was so blown away by the openness and love at United Church of Chapel Hill. Learning about ONA and its mission to keep LGBTQ advocacy at the forefront of the UCCH platform is what keeps me motivated to be an active member of a church that looks out for me. Although with other communities I still wonder whether who I love isolates me, I now know that I have found a faith community that accepts me, welcomes me, and still fights for me.