I was excommunicated because of my sexuality, but now I’ve found a church that celebrates who I am.
Our girls were christened last week. Now if you'd asked me a little over a year ago if this day would ever happen, I'd have said absolutely not.
You see, I went to my local catholic church. I plucked up the courage to meet with the priest to ask him to baptise our girls. I knew I would have to come out and explain our family to him, but I braved it because I wanted the girls to be baptised. A few days later he called and said he could baptise the children and both of our names would appear on the baptism certificate. But I wasn't prepared for what came next. I was told I was no longer allowed to receive communion at mass. What?! I was being excommunicated. I asked why and was told it's because they know the relationship I am living in and it's not accepted by the church. What a blow! I was shaking with upset and anger and I also felt humiliated that I had been scorned by the church.
After sleeping on it I knew there was no way I could accept these terms. When my girls are older and say, "Mummy why aren't you getting communion?" and I have to respond with, "I'm not allowed to as the church don't believe that your Mummies' relationship is right". I couldn't do it. This is telling them that our lives are wrong. We are not sinners we are just a couple in love who have children they love. Nothing else.
Utterly devastated, I wrote to the priest and the bishop. I didn't expect to achieve much but I needed to get it off my chest. They were not being very good Christians. Do you think God really cares if someone is dating Arthur or Martha? No! All God wants is for people to be happy and to treat people well. Simples. My mum even said they give communion to those convicted in prison. So they can be forgiven enough to receive communion but me, the average person who likes to help people whenever I can, who teaches my children right from wrong, who lives in a loving and committed relationship, can not. L was angry. She isn't religious but she supports me with my faith and I knew she was hurting because I was hurting.
So I'd given up hope that the girls would be baptised until I started going to a toddler group based at the local Church of England hall. I came here with a friend and really enjoyed it. People here were nice (not too nice where they were annoying and in your face) but the nice where they were friendly and kind and they also lost it with their kids from time to time; so normal folk. As a bonus they also had the best cake ever and endless amounts of tea which was needed as it was a post-nightshift-with-the-kids event.
I liked it there and the kids liked it there. The vicar would arrive with his guitar and we would all gather round and do a singsong and usually a story or prayer and the girls really enjoyed it. It left me thinking maybe this group of people was more inclusive and maybe more accepting. I did a bit of research on C of E as I was brought up in the Catholic faith. I didn't know what they accepted and didn't. I was over the moon to read they accept people to receive communion from other faiths as long as you are confirmed. It sounded too good to be true and I was still too hurt to explore it any further until one day I thought sod it I've got nothing to lose.
So I met with the vicar and spoke about what had happened, what my concerns were and how did our family fit within this church. I was blown away with the response. He was very understanding and sympathetic to what I'd been through. He gave me the opportunity to come and try a few services to see if I thought it was for my family and me. It was great. I was welcomed right from the very first day with a lovely smiley face inviting us in for drinks and pastries (as if L and I needed much more encouragement after that!).
It's surpassed any expectations I had and has literally changed my life. I feel elated and accepted and my life is even richer than before. The benefit is now I can share all of this with my family and even L likes to come along to some of the events. I really feel that we have made good friends here already, which I can see blossoming over the years to come.
So seeing my beautiful girls being christened was a dream come true. The service was beautiful with fantastic music played by a local family really personalising it all. The girls looked stunning and were so well behaved, especially when they were at the font, so I'm wondering if that was God's magic and their Nana working on them from above or if they were just thinking, "What on earth is going on?!"
Who knows if they will choose to continue in their faith as they get older but we've given them the opportunity to do so if they wish and we will cherish the memories from this day forever. Sometimes things are just meant to be but I am I glad I chose not to compromise our family values to please a religion which wouldn't accept me.
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