Is There Still a Place for Me?

Is there still a place for me?

I’ve been asking this question for a while now. I was told I would never get published. I was told my political and social views would not allow me to “make it”. And the fact I drink and cuss…like other ordinary people. And I have been asking, “Is there still a place for me?”

With Jesus? Yes.

With His people? I’m not so sure.

I am on the outside. Maybe you have found yourself there too…

So, I am going to tell you a story because I am a story teller…Maybe it’s a little like your story…Maybe not…

This is the story of an ordinary gal who found Jesus and got lost a long the way.

This is the story of an ordinary gal who followed Jesus and somehow started following lots of other people too.

This is the story of Jesus in an ordinary gal’s life, and how He doesn’t give up…even when she’s an asshole.

I went to a big Baptist church with a conversion program…a “Pray the Gay Away” program. And folks applauded it a lot. A whole lot. I was one of them. And being gay was a sin. And being ok with people being gay was a sin. And there was lots of speaking truth in love…And loving the sinner, but hating the sin. And it sounded good. And holy. And horrible too. But only if you were gay…

And we prayed people straight. And praised them going to “therapy”. And cheered their heterosexual marriages. And held them accountable. And built relationships, and pointed them to Jesus and gender roles and “healing”…a really lonely healing with heartache…

And I just fell in line…There were tons of things out there in the sex crazed world making people gay and confused. And I got on board. And I am so ashamed to write this y’all. But I just got on board.

I prayed for young people to be straight…to stay straight…to become straight…to be healed…and I prayed for my kids to be straight…to stay straight…and took notes and listened to testimonials…Strong willed women make their kids gay. Children who don’t spend time with their same sex parent don’t have well defined gender roles…God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve…and everyone laughs and laughs and then prays and thanks Jesus they aren’t gay.

I was a closeted liberal. I was the gal in church who only voted Democrat and smiled and nodded when folks talked about Democrats being against family values. I believed in universal healthcare and smiled and nodded when folks talked about not shouldering the burdens of others. I was the gal who was pro-choice (that one may get me killed in my sleep), and smiled and nodded as people protested Planned Parenthood. I was the gal who thought women deserved equality, and smiled and nodded when folks talked about women staying out of the pulpit.

I knew about institutional racism. I knew poor folks and their lack of opportunities. I believed in the separation of church and state like nobody’s business…And this ordinary gal, before Jesus, did not give a shit if anyone was gay…But then there was Jesus and His people. And in my church they were super crazy about the gay thing…And rocking a boat or asking a question was hard. And smiling and nodding was way too easy.

God won’t leave us where He found us…It’s a church thing…We say it…And typically, we say it about things like being an alcoholic or being slutty or being whatever…But it is true ya know. It’s true about being an asshole too.

People were struggling. Really struggling. Struggling with drugs and alcohol and porn addiction and happiness and family and community and “same sex attraction” and “sexual brokenness” and catch phrases everywhere…And I knew them. And watched them try so hard. And I prayed for them and encouraged them…I was not gay. This didn’t affect me, right? But man, I watched it affect the living daylights out of some wonderful people. And I smiled and nodded.

My principal was gay. Where I taught high school, my principal was gay. And she was the godliest woman I had ever met. She loved kids so big…like Jesus. She loved the staff. She talked about Jesus all the time. She loved her wife and her daughter. She was a mentor to me. She didn’t know it at the time. But she made me think a lot…About how she was gay and looked way more like a Christ Follower and lived way more like a Christ Follower than me. And she was gay. And God was good. And He did not leave me where He found me.

We were driving in her car. We were talking about a student. He was a good kid. Honors. In choir. Top of his class. People adored him. He had a scholarship to a great college. And he was homeless. Living with friends. Doing what he could his senior year. Tough love. It was what Jesus ordered. His parents cut him off…kicked him out. He was gay. And my heart was pounding out of my chest as I heard the story of this boy…this really great kid…going to college alone…And I could barely ask what church had told his parents to kick out their gay son. And it was mine y’all. It was mine.

So, this is my story. A little piece of it. Jesus woke me up in a car ride conversation with a woman I admired and the story of a boy I still have never met. This is where I say I am not just affirming, but I’m an ally. This is where I say Jesus would never ever ever love you less or differently if you’re gay. He created you. You are perfect in His sight. You are loved. And there is no changing you. And I am so sorry if anyone has told you any different. And I’m sorry if I did. You did not deserve any of this bullshit.

I am a million miles away from where Jesus found me…Come join me…and we can be ordinary people who love Jesus together. Come and know you were created by God Almighty and He smiled the day you were born. Come and know there is room for you, and there is no shame or condemnation. Y’all…come to the outside. No more smiling and nodding.

We are salt and light. Jesus said so. He said it to a bunch of ordinary people on a mountainside. He said it a long long time ago. But it’s still true today. And The Body of Christ is missing out on a lot of salt and light…a lot of flavor filled, shiny people who add so much to what Jesus is up to these days…And me personally, I cannot wait to see the doors blown wide open.

Until then, I will be having a margarita outside…I like to call it the “Patio Party”… Some of the best Jesus Freaks I know hang there. And everyone is welcome…I promise…And Jesus promises too.


14 replies
  1. Jeremy
    Jeremy says:

    My heart was racing the entire time I read this. I adore you, Jackie Hooks. I’ve always envied your spunk. I am a product of that Pray the Gay Away program. It didn’t take. Now, I’m out in the patio because I don’t see a place for me in the church anymore.

    • jackiehooks
      jackiehooks says:

      Your wife is pretty darn easy to love and ya know, I think this is just the way Jesus wanted us to love…I was thinking this weekend, as we handed out Free Mom Hugs at the Pride Parade…Jesus was with us in a mighty way…

  2. Paulette Black
    Paulette Black says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story. I am the mom of 2 wonderful gay children. Being from a very dominant Baptist background you can imagine the struggle my husband & I went through….. at first. Now we love unconditionally & with grace. Them, their spouses & friends.

    • jackiehooks
      jackiehooks says:

      I love so much that Jesus loves us all enough to make sure we don’t stay in a place of shame and guilt and shaming others and your children can live free and loved! Kudos to you for seeing enough to change…

  3. jackiehooks
    jackiehooks says:

    It really is maddening, but I think so much of it is just finding a new person to hate…And good for you for leaving that church…I wish I had had the courage long ago…


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