A former youth leader at a Toowoomba church said the church’s actions forced her to come out to loved ones. The church also pushed her out of her role because she was gay. Katie James told the Toowoomba Chronicle she put her entire heart and soul into her role as a youth leader at the Humeridge Church of Christ.
The young woman served as a youth leader at the Toowoomba church for several years. However, Katie James also struggled with her sexual identity during her last years of high school. Witnessing the bullying endured by a fellow classmate at the Christian school over their sexual orientation exacerbated her struggle.
“I discovered I had an attraction towards girls that was different from a friendship in my senior years of high school.”
Katie James said she prayed to God to make her straight. But she then began a relationship with another female youth leader at the Toowoomba church. The pair kept their relationship secret for about a year.
“I wasn’t ready to come out, but rumours started, and someone took it upon themselves to tell people in the church that we were dating.”
Books about celibacy
Katie said the church first called to ask about the rumours and then asked for the pair to attend a meeting. They were asked if they were involved sexually and offered books about practising celibacy.
The church told the young women if they couldn’t live up to God’s standard, they would need to step down.
Katie James said members of the church stopped speaking to her. Others started to treat her differently. With all her friends and family involved in the church, Katie had no choice but to come out. She described the decision as taken out of her hands.
Although her family struggled to come to terms with her sexuality, her parents continued to love and accept her.
Katie said it took her over three years to feel comfortable in herself. The recent Citipointe College controversy prompted her to share her story. She hoped it would help other young people in similar situations.
“What some people don’t understand is this is the reality for members of the LGBTIQA+ community, this isn’t new and it’s happening here.”
Katie posted to Facebook yesterday, “It has been a massive and tough journey, but I am still here, strong and queer.”