Many people might not know this, but I was raised quiverfull. Probably wondering what that means, right? In short, it basically means that a family is radically pro-life in the name of Christianity. It’s a concept that has spread through many English speaking countries, and through many different branches of Christianity, but the main idea is that any attempt at contraception is refusing the “gift” of a child. Vyckie at No Longer Quivering has a much more complete explanation, if the concept interests you.
What this meant for my childhood was first, that I had six siblings. Being one of seven children on a single income (because if our mother worked, she’d be disrespecting our father) was its own struggle, but one of the worst parts was that there was a huge focus on continuing the family line. As one of the oldests, I was expected to court and marry when the time came. Obviously I didn’t do that.
Instead, I wandered off to college and shaved off all my hair. I didn’t really officially come out, I just started coming home less and less. When I was officially out, however, here are a few of the things I noticed right away.
- News spreads super quick through the community. I wasn’t a lesbian, but that’s what was conveyed, because anything beyond that was a little too complicated for our sheltered community. I remember first hand how it worked when the eldest son of another family came out as gay a few years prior; my mother baked his mother a casserole, which is something our community did in the event of a tragedy or illness. I can only assume my mother got her own share of casseroles when I was out. Anyways, facebook friends started melting away, and families stopped including me on their annual Christmas cards. I got a few offers to pray away the gay, but after a while, people just left me alone. I was lucky, since I had already surrounded myself with a new community of accepting people at college, but I can only imagine how difficult this would have been had I still actively been a part of that community.
- It feels like a weight off your shoulders, to finally stop being seen as a prospective bride. Now that no one wanted to marry someone branded queer, my parents stopped trying to help me be a better wife. Granted, they assumed I was throwing away my life, but it gave me the freedom to run off and do as I pleased. I moved across the country with my best friend, whom my parents still think I’m definitely having sex with, because he’s a man. But like ripping off a band-aid, now that I’ve completely disappointed them by being queer, their judgement of my living situation doesn’t even bother me.
- People from the community start to show you who they really are. There are so many conservative people I grew up with who reached out to me with compassion. Not “I’ll help you pray this away” compassion, but “I don’t understand what you’re doing, but know that I still love you” compassion. This small group of conservatives with big hearts redeemed Christianity in my eyes; for over seven years, I had felt I couldn’t believe in God, couldn’t participate in a church, and it was just too painful to consider living in a way that was being untrue about who I really was. Now, I may have left the church my parents and friends are in, but these friends have taught me how to embrace faith again. I’m currently exploring other churches to find one where I can be at peace.
Overall, my journey from closeted quiverfull child to who I am now has been tumultuous and speckled with moments of sorrow and joy. I am grateful to be where I am and who I am today, even if it wasn’t always a pleasant journey.