Where I Stand
I moved 18 times before I turned 18 years old. I lived everywhere from Seattle to Philadelphia to San Francisco. The place my parents chose to finally settle down was right in the middle of the Central Pennsylvanian “Bible belt.” I didn’t mind moving because that is what I was used to. It didn’t bother me that I never had a home or a community to call my own. My parents were divorced. The life that I knew was disjointed but it was normal. My parents are liberals who, as far as I knew couldn’t stand religious fundamentalism. I thought I would never understand their decision. We went to church here and there but, like everything else, it was never routine.
In this small town religion permeated everything. Being a Christian even meant that you had to be a Republican. In tenth grade on the first day of my political science class we were supposed to split up, Republicans and Democrats. In a class of about 25 I hesitantly moved to stand on the side of the classroom empty except for two of us who were definitely not up to the task of defending our immoral and radical beliefs. More than anything at that moment I was not intimidated, I was jealous. In that moment everything that had never been normal in my life seemed like an invisible barrier between me and group across the room.
I thought I would never be able to forgive my parents for the making me live in place where the public school sponsored the Bible Club and I was ridiculed because I went to the wrong church. I had hoped that even if I was a young liberal democrat, I went to church regularly and that would ‘redeem’ me in the eyes of my peers. However, it had at one point, a gay couple in its congregation and from then on it was known as ‘the gay church.’
I am in college now, attending a liberal university right in the middle of a metropolitan city. I had constantly told everyone I couldn’t wait for college, to get out and never look back. During my senior year of high school I came to the realization that I was happy. I was getting my picture taken at prom with all my friends. They filled up the whole staircase of the terrace in the garden across the street from the hotel. I suddenly felt so blessed; they were the kind of kids that went to church every Sunday, got good grades and above all respected their parents and God.
I realized after all those years of moving I had found a home and a community in a place where I least expected it. I embraced being different but also found in many ways that I was the same as my friends. I learned how to have conviction, most importantly faith, and to blend that with the tolerance and compassion that my parents taught me.
I believe in God, in community, humanity and the importance of being happy.
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