One of the parts about being homeless that I enjoyed was that I had to share a room in the shelter with other young women around my age, and some of those women were gorgeous. I desired them and became more aware of my sexuality while sharing a room with them. There was one young woman who worked as a stripper professionally. I loved seeing her naked or strutting around barely dressed ready to go to work. But these attractions were sinful, according to the church. There was another girl that was a little younger with whom I tried to handle my attraction by mothering her somewhat. She had her own skeletons and her own lies well ingrained in her life too, and one day she just disappeared from the shelter. From what I had heard, she wound up in jail.
There was another girl who I was sort of in a relationship with but only to a certain point because I did not want to cross the line of being in an actual relationship with her lest God kill me and send me straight to hell. We did, however, make out in a nasty, drug filled apartment with two bedrooms and seven residents, on a mattress on the floor behind a sheet that had been hung as a privacy curtain. But as long as we were not technically in a relationship, I hoped that God would overlook it. Or something like that.
While I was homeless, I was also in my first term at the local university. I started going to the Christian club that was available, but they were way too liberal and probably not even Christian in my eyes. I did look at the books, though, and there was one that was about a woman from Sydney who said she had been a lesbian and it was the story of how God healed her and she became heterosexual (I do not believe it is possible to change your sexual orientation, my guess is she was either bisexual all along or will one day date women again). I so wanted to not be an abomination to God, so I stole the book from the Christian club so that I could have it to read again. Yes, I see the irony in committing a sin in order to obtain a book that was supposed to help me stop sinning.
From the homeless shelter, I moved into a co-ed college dorm that was not on-campus, it was in the city. That wasn’t a problem because the city dorms were cheaper, and I had a car. Besides, the manager there had said that I could live there for cheaper over the Christmas holidays as long as I fed myself instead of eating the meals that were supposed to come with the dorm living. I agreed to those conditions, and so I moved in there after six months or so in the shelter. There was only one other woman in the hall, the rest were men. I really, really wanted to prove that I could turn straight, and so I got as flirty as I knew how to get with one of the men, who acted like he was interested. He said that he and some of his other male buddies had been able to secure a house and they were going to be moving there soon, and that I was welcome to be a roommate if I wanted to be. But I knew that it would be deemed a sin by the church if I moved into a house full of men, and so I turned the guy down.
In her book Pure, Linda Kay Klein describes this feeling also: “It’s the story of me – a sixteen-year-old girl in her first real relationship. Willing, no, wanting to be tested so she could prove to her God, her community, and herself that she was good.” (2018, p. 3, italics in the original).
I also wasn’t supposed to drink, and I don’t think the men in the dorm ever did figure out where their stolen vodka cruisers went. I was just curious about the taste. I got drunk one night and of course I never told anyone because that was sin and I was deeply ashamed of it anyway. I know that the one guy would have jumped into bed with me if I had wanted to have sex with him, and I desperately did want to have sex with him, so that I would finally be straight. Except that pre-marital sex was a sin too so there was no way I could win in this situation.
Klein, Linda Kay. Pure: Inside the Evangelical Movement That Shamed a Generation of Young Women and How I Broke Free. 2018: Touchstone.