denise-serna.md

Denise Serna

LGBTQ

I found the theatre before I found Christianity. My entire life has been spent around those creative types: the awkward, misunderstood, and the kids who never really found a place to fit in. And those people were my friends, my cohorts, and my soul mates. I never questioned who I was. I liked to read, and act, and talk a lot.

As I got older, it seemed like bad luck that I went from super deep friendships with girl after girl. I was definitely the girl who was devastated when her best female friend got a boyfriend, or moved away, or you know, didn’t call back. I thought I just really, really wanted a best friend, and none of the girls could handle that. I thought all girls felt that way.

When I became a Christian in high school, I was under the impression that in order to be a Christian, you must hate gay people (well the sin, anyway). I pushed away some people I loved very much in just a couple short years. The safe place we had in the theatre was marred by my newfound disapproval for half of my friends. And the feelings I had for that girl in my youth group were no longer a normal part of who I was; they were the secret part.

By the crazy hand of fate, Cedarville was the only school I wanted to attend. My four years there were academically and professionally successful. While there, I met some of the most compassionate, amazing, and intelligent people I will ever meet. I was forced to actually read the Bible, not just repeat pastoral platitudes.

While the general air of Cedarville is one of ultra-conservativeism, I find that was hardly the case with the people I encountered and associated myself with. I was engaging in real conversations about what it means to love God and love people.

I was once again part of a small, artistic, intellectual community where we were all a little strange, and everyone was free to be whoever they wanted to be. And I knew there was nothing wrong with us. I pursued and enjoyed my ministries, the gospel choir, my jobs and my major, ashamed of the couple years I had convinced myself that I was broken.

When I was suddenly, not surprisingly, in love with a woman, it didn’t really matter. Senior year, aside from normal senior year stuff, was absolutely wonderful. I was honest with who I was, I was in my first relationship, and friends with the kind of people who supported my health and happiness.

When I told my parents of my relationship, I was met with little surprise, and no condemnation: only love, support, and understanding. They continue to support me and have never expressed anything but love for who I am.

I know that this isn’t the case for most of us. My situation, my Cedarville experience, is not the norm for most members of this group. Most of the LGBTQA students of Cedarville have much to fear with embracing who they are. Expulsion, shame, being cut off from family and friends, self-loathing, and a whole myriad of things I cannot even fathom. This grieves me so much. Please know that you aren’t alone. Who we are is enough. We are beautiful, and we are whole.