(for those who don’t know, I was a moderator for Jeremy Camp on his message board. He is a Christian musician and I loved being able to support him, his music, message and other members on the board. This open letter chronicles my coming out experience)
“Several years ago, I was one of the few in my area who would attend every local show you did here. I was there at the first show in Rancho Cordova when the power blew, I was at the shows at the huge church in Roseville. My brother and I went to the shows together, he even took photos at the show at UC DAVIS and hung with you and the crew backstage.
These years and moments were a huge part of my life. I worked tirelessly to promote you and the events, to attend them, to share the word and your music with others.
Not only that, but I was also a moderator on the message board. I loved it. I loved being there as an inspiration, a supportive person and to encourage others. I had late nights shutting down the spammers, I worked with other admins to dissolve drama. I shared my story, my testimony and my struggles.
I truly felt welcome, loved and supported there.
That all changed in an instant.
I started seeing so much hate on the board toward the LGBT community. It was shocking. Appalling. It blew my mind. For a group that felt called to love and support others, these members were doing the exact opposite of that. Instead of embracing everyone as Christ had, they turned their backs and spewed hateful words towards the community.
It was a personal blow.
For weeks and months I struggled with this. I spent nights crying, days trying to find a way to avoid the hate yet still be a moderator. I tried to show that love, compassion and acceptance Christ had. I was one of the few who did.
Eventually, it came to a breaking point. These members needed to see that a gay person was not some kind of monster. They needed to see that people of the community were normal, loving people who led normal lives and worked with so many in various communities.
As one of the main moderators in the Sisters in Christ board, I chose to come out as lesbian.
I couldn’t stand seeing the hate these members were spreading. They had to see they were damaging one of their own, hurting me down to the bones.
I knew that the post would be hard to swallow for many. I knew I’d likely face backlash from it. But Jeremy, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. They needed to know that I’m a normal girl who loves Christ, who loves encouraging and helping others.
I posted it, and shortly after, signed offline for the night – partly out of anxiety and because I’ve always struggled with chronic illness. I took a deep breath and knew that I had done what is best for me. I had to do this.
By morning… I woke and all hell had broken lose. While I had a few long time friends on the board supporting me, encouraging me and letting me know that while they didn’t agree with my “lifestyle”, they still cared about me.
Unfortunately, the bad outweighed the good.
Members of the message board started to harass me. I was threatened. I was told that because I was gay, I was going to go to hell. I was told that I could be stoned to death because I am gay.
Worse was members of the admin and staff team lying to me. They told me they had sent an email explaining their stance and actions, but I never got that e-mail.
Even worse than that?
The main admin of the board, C (as we all knew him by), took to the general part of the forum and publicly humiliated me. The actions of the team made it very clear that I was never welcome on the board – the humiliation continued as members stalked me on forms of social media, sending me harassing messages. I had been publicly humiliated on a board with thousands of members…
All because of what I said. Yet, he (and others on the team) took that step to humiliate me. That? Jeremy, that’s what still stings the most. How is this showing Christ’s love? How is this loving others as He loved us? Jesus took the time and spent time with people no one else did… yet his followers, they did the exact opposite.
The situation came at a time where I was depressed. I was struggling and so much. The situation nearly pushed me to a suicide attempt. How was I supposed to feel like I am loved, cared about, and supportive when people who claim to show Christ’s love can act so cruelly?
It’s been several years now since this all happened… some days are better than others. Some are not. What remains is how hurt I am. It shows in the panic of coming out to others, to stepping foot into a church. It shows in the nights where I’m in bed crying.
What happened to me on the board should have never happened. The moderating team and admins should have treated me as a human being. Instead, I was lied to continuously about that “email”, I was publicly humiliated. I was stalked and harassed.
I am writing this because I need you to know what happened. I can’t get this closure without you knowing what happened. Maybe you already do, I’m sure you heard bits and pieces several years ago.. but I wanted you to hear it from me. I wanted you to know how hard this has been for me, that it hasn’t yet healed.
Since then, I have really struggled with my faith. I don’t feel welcome in a church. I’m scared to come out to people involved in church or the Christian music community. I still carry the weight and scars from the experience because people who claim to follow Christ quite literally made my life a living hell.
You may not even remember me, or even read this email, but I need to you know what happened, and how it has affected me over the last few years since it happened.”
Was this easy to share? No. In fact, I am anxious and terrified that some of these same people will come back into my life and start the same issues as they had when this situation first unfolded, but I also know that it is my time to speak up about this.
I won’t stay quiet anymore. I will speak up. I will encourage others. I will support others. If you are struggling with coming out and/or the aftermath? I am here and so are many others.