Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Marcus High School's Online Newspaper

The Marquee

Running from religion

“If you don’t convert to God, you’ll be sent to hell after you die.”

Religion had never played a big role in my life until I was told this at age 11. From my knowledge of horror movies and those insane religious billboards you see on the highway, hell was a place filled with eternal suffering and torture. I remembered the words swimming through my mind.


Convert. God. Die. Hell.


It was bad enough to start questioning my sexuality in middle school, but it’s even worse considering that I lived in the South. I constantly heard stories from others about kids my age being kicked out of their house after coming out to their parents, as well as anti-LGBTQ+ hate crimes being covered on the news. Fearing for my life and what my friends and family would think, I tried to push my feelings away. 

I was young and impressionable, and believed everything anyone told me. I knew that many saw homosexuality as a sin, and I didn’t want to go to hell. Thus began my rocky relationship with God.

I started with the Bible. I sat down and forced myself to read as many pages as I could. The words blurred on the pages, and I finally quit after an hour of reading. I could tell my heart wasn’t in it.

But I didn’t want to give up. I begged an old friend to take me to church with him. Forcing myself into the crowded room with gospel music playing in the background for an hour just didn’t seem to be my thing.

I kept going though. For a year after, I forced myself to pray nightly. I had assumed that all of that praying would somehow magically make me straight, but my feelings stayed the same. All it did was make me more ashamed of myself for the way that I felt.

It took me too long to realize that the only reason I turned to religion in the first place was because I was ordered to. I was told to fear hell and what would happen if I didn’t follow God, and I was forced to hide who I really was just so I could make others happy.

So I reverted to agnosticism, much to the confusion of certain people. I was told the same speech over and over again: that I was sinning and I was risking an afterlife more painful than death. Sadly, I still hear this now.

My main issue is when people cherry-pick their religion, so that they can have a reason to be hateful of something that they don’t understand. One of the main points of Christianity is to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” according to Matthew 22:37-39. 

But when I came out to a family member as queer, the first thing they told me was that it was just a phase and that I’ll settle down with a man one day. That it’s the way God wants it to be. 

I’m sick of being told that I just haven’t found the right man, or that I’ll go to hell because of the way that I live my life. I’m tired of the side-eyes I’m given when I talk about my celebrity crushes or the silence that follows when I out myself to someone. And now I find it difficult to find comfort in any religion where its followers deem me a sinner or ungodly because of who I am.

But despite this, times are changing, and I see places of worship becoming more open and diverse. I have religious friends, and they have always been open to who I am, even if others aren’t. There will always be those who shun my existence but I know that instead of focusing on the life that they want me to live, I should instead follow my own path. 

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About the Contributor
Lex Paull
Lex Paull, Online Editor
Lex (she/her) is Online Editor and is super excited for her second year on staff. When she’s not working she loves to binge-watch horror movies and listen to music 24/7.

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    Kristy HundtOct 31, 2023 at 8:58 pm

    So proud of you