My Gay Christian Coming-of-Age Story
Beaming Books, 2021. 270 pages.
Review written May 8, 2023, from a library book.
Still Stace is a memoir about an earnest and devoted Christian teen girl who found herself attracted to other girls. She was told by her parents, friends, leaders, and even a Christian counselor that this was disgusting and sinful and she needed to change. Stace tried and tried. She prayed about her "struggle" for years. In fact, she sprinkles her story with prayers she wrote in her journals at the time. She desperately wanted God to change her, to give her victory over her desires. Over the years, she was told if she just prayed harder, she'd change and be okay.
Then when she went to an Exodus International event, hoping to become ex-gay, and met a girl who flirted with her and made out with her -- she concluded that being ex-gay wasn't possible. At the same time, her best friend confessed she was falling in love with Stace.
So she entered another relationship, but continued to feel guilty. And she hated hiding who she was from her parents.
But I love the chapter where she came to terms with how God saw her and how God made her. It involved a week-long retreat of praying and seeking God. In the end, after much agonizing, God answered her questions and flooded her with peace.
Full, soft, healing . . . peace. In that moment, I finally allowed this truth to enter my heart and resonate deep within. The fears in my head and fears of what God's people thought of me were no match for the perfect love of God himself.
God said to me: I made you. ALL of you. Fearfully and wonderfully.
And the story continues as she experienced God's abundant life, as the person she truly is.
This book is beautiful and was hard for me to stop reading. It's not a graphic memoir, but she's an animator, and fills the pages with wonderful illustrations. I grew up in an evangelical church and went to an evangelical university. I didn't have the same struggle as Stace, but I had her same heart for following Christ and believing that meant following the rules I'd been told. I remember the struggles and shame once I did get a boyfriend, trying to not give into temptation. We solved that difficulty by getting married. And when I learned that some friends were gay, I was so sad for them. It all helps me begin to imagine what she must have gone through and have sympathy for her agonizing.
Now, I've since that time come to understand that what we read in the Bible in English today isn't necessarily even close to what it meant to the Hebrew and Greek speakers when the Bible was written. But what I can trust in the Bible is that God created us. And God loves us. And I love the way Stace's story reflects that same message.